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“I was suffering for 360km” – Former British Junior National Champion Jacob Vaughan after gruelling Traka event

Tekkerz Cycling Club rider Jacob Vaughan admits his 2023 season hasn’t started as he’d hoped after “suffering for 360 kilometres” at The Traka event in Girona as the cycling season begins to take shape.

The Brit secured a top-40 finish at the multi-surface event, which takes place on the streets around Girona in Spain, but says it was a “mad day” after he was forced to dismount early and make several adjustments to his bike. The Traka incorporates action on roads, pavements, gravel and even ramps and staircases, which makes it one of the more unique events on the semi-pro cycling calendar.

A typical stage at one of the three Grand Tours is roughly 160km, which puts into perspective the gruelling effect undertaken by the cyclists who competed in the 2023 Traka event in early May.

Vaughan, who left Saint-Piran last season to join London-based club Tekkerz, reflects on the event with regret, but admits positives must be taken.

“My race started out well as I made contact with the front group, but I ended up losing a couple of positions when we hit a staircase. After that, I struggled through the heat and hilly terrain and found myself riding solo for a long period before I eventually found another group with around 280km of riding.

“As it started raining, I ended up splitting off with another rider and we rode together until the finish line to secure a finish inside the top 40. I felt completely exhausted when I finally crossed the line!”

That was just the start of Vaughan’s pain, however, as the fatigue began to set in hours later. “After the race, I wasn’t able to keep any food or water down, leading to a grim night of dehydration.

“I definitely pushed my body to the absolute limit and was suffering for all 360 km. It was a mad day on the bike, but it was a great challenge to complete.”

Vaughan has bounced around several semi-pro teams in recent years, but is desperate to jump up to professional cycling soon, a dream held by most of the riders he competes against on a regular basis.

“I was on the development team at Lotto Soudal in 2018 and that was a great experience. I wouldn’t say I’m ever going to be a Grand Tour rider, but it would definitely be nice to get back to winning some big one-day races and in the future my goal is to make the step up to become a pro rider and target the Classics in the early season.”

Vaughan describes himself as a puncheur rider – a cross between a climber and a sprinter – and admits he likes short, sharp climbs that allow him to burst away from fellow riders. It was on that exact terrain that the young Brit won the junior National Championship in 2016, a victory that launched his cycling career.

However, despite a spell at Grand Tour team Lotto Soudal, Vaughan now works as a customs operator at Wahoo Fitness. The pitfalls of semi-pro cycling include balancing ambitions as an athlete with a full-time job, something Vaughan is more than aware of. “It’s certainly very tough,” Vaughan reveals. “I’ve noticed I’ve really got to prioritise recovery and sometimes you have to cut back on training if you are feeling a bit flat. I sometimes have to miss a session rather than push through and then miss a whole week later down the line. It’s certainly tough but it’s not unmanageable. I’ve managed to work around it and I’m making better use of my time now.”

Vaughan, who became the British National Gravel Champion in 2022, certainly has a unique career path, and he seems to have found his niche in multi-surface racing. But, INEOS rider Tom Pidcock began his career on a similar path, and he won at the top of Mont Ventoux at Le Tour de France last year, so the sky’s the limit for Vaughan if he continues on his current trajectory.

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