UK Cycling Team Visits Ford’s Testing Facility

A leading British cycling team was put to the test in unique circumstances at Ford’s Dunton Campus in Essex as it prepares for the 2024 Ford RideLondon Classique.

Riders from DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK cycling team visited Ford’s state-of-the-art testing facility to fine tune their preparations ahead of this race and other European events. It will be the team’s second appearance at the Ford RideLondon Classique, which begins on Friday 24 May.

Stage One of the 2024 Ford RideLondon Classique begins in Saffron Walden and ends in Colchester. Stage Two starts and finishes in Maldon on Saturday 25 May. The finale is on Sunday 26 May, with the race ending with an iconic circuit of central London.

DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK is one team hoping to impress at the UCI Women’s WorldTour event, having also participated in 2023. British riders Frankie Hall and Lucy Lee were part of the DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK cycling team at the Dunton Campus, where the riders were able to test themselves against extreme conditions usually reserved for vehicle testing.

The riders stepped inside Ford’s Environmental Test Lab (ETL), on its Dunton Campus Research & Development HQ, to experience the impact of cycling in controlled environments on performance, allowing them to replicate the conditions of real-life situations and locations ahead of experiencing them on the road or track. This included hot-weather training in temperatures up to 25 degrees and cold weather training just above freezing (one degree), below which races would be called off. Crosswinds were also simulated in the ETL, up to speeds of 50 kph.

Riders of the UCI Women’s Continental Team also used Dunton Campus’s banked figure-of-eight open track between sessions to monitor how training in such conditions impacted performance.

Lucy Lee said after the experience, “It was a productive day. The heat chambers and wind tunnel testing available at Ford Dunton Campus allowed us to test our responses to such conditions ahead of the new season and to see how we can respond to that when racing begins. The Classique is the biggest race on the team’s calendar. We know how important those moments are when you are racing in an event as large as Ford RideLondon and we all want to take part.”

Frankie Hall added, ”Days like this one at the Ford Dunton Campus are invaluable for teams like ours. It’s great to try new things and engage with partners of the sport. It allows us to visualise how these relationships can grow.”

Simon Howes, Team Principal of DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK said riding the Ford RideLondon Classique was the pinnacle for his team each season and he was pleased to get ahead of the competition and test warmer conditions before the season starts.

“Using the heat chamber in particular has been invaluable,” explained Howes. “It is not the warmest in the UK when preparing for races, so it is important to experience these conditions when possible and to make sure we are in the best condition possible come race day. Using closed roads is always so much safer as well.”

“The Classique is incredible in every way for British teams. The crowds are huge and far surpass any other race we do around Europe. Who wouldn’t want to ride in central London? For us, as a local team with local sponsors, it is the pinnacle of bike racing and for a British rider it can be the peak of their career.”

Lisa Brankin, Chair and Managing Director of Ford UK, added, “As part of Ford’s RideLondon-Essex support, we were delighted to welcome the DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK team to Dunton Campus in Essex for training. Our Dunton site is the home of global commercial vehicle development and normally tests vehicles, so we were really pleased to make our advanced facilities available to the team’s riders. Our ‘Park the Car‘ initiative champions parking the car for shorter journeys and cycling can be a smart alternative for those short journeys. To help promote this message we’ve partnered with RideLondon-Essex, its entrants and spectators to help spread the ‘Park the Car’ message.”

Scott Sunderland, Ford RideLondon Classique Race Director, concluded, “The Ford RideLondon Classique is one of the landmark occasions on the UK cycling calendar, and that is in no small part down to the role played by the British teams and the talented pool of British riders. We know the treasured place the Classique holds for those riders, and it is a pleasure to work with teams, including DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK, and our title sponsor, Ford, to create unique opportunities such as this. Home riders want to show themselves at their best in front of their home crowds and we consistently get that at the Classique. It was really encouraging to see some of the smaller teams be so aggressive on the road in 2023 and long may it continue! We aspire to build a cycling legacy and you only need to see how many young people are on the roadside to know that the enthusiasm for this sport is continuing to grow. Developing women’s cycling and encouraging more people to cycle come with a responsibility and I am hugely excited at what we can continue to achieve in the years ahead.”

RideLondon, the world’s greatest festival of cycling, was developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies. It was first held in August 2013 and is a legacy event from the London 2012 Olympics. The 2024 Ford RideLondon Classique is part of the UCI Women’s World Tour. The Classique was granted UCI Women’s WorldTour status in 2016. It was a one-day race between 2016 and 2019, becoming a three-day stage race in 2022 after returning following the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events. The 2024 Ford RideLondon also includes the mass-participation events: Ford RideLondon FreeCycle, Ford, RideLondon-Essex 100, Ford RideLondon-Essex 60 and Ford RideLondon-Essex 30. The 2023 RideLondon-Essex on Sunday 28 May saw more than 22,500 cyclists take part in either the 100, 60 or 30 mile events.

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