Noah Hobbs battled it out against Josh Tarling at this year’s SD Sealants Junior Tour of Wales to secure the overall yellow jersey.
Back to its original format of five stages after three years of disruption, the Junior Tour of Wales delivered an exciting and hard-fought battle between some of the best young riders in the country.
The Junior Tour of Wales began with the traditional short, demanding time trial stage incorporating the ‘other’ side of The Tumble Mountain. Recently signed by Ineos Grenadiers and going off last in the field, Josh Tarling representing Wales, finished clear of everyone posting a time of 13:29.66 for the 8.37km course.
Fellow Welsh teammate Tomos Pattinson came in second 19 seconds down, with Liam O’Brien (O'Leary Stone Munster) a further 0:08 seconds back.
Stage two saw a big shift in the general classification with Noah Hobbs (TEKKERZ CC) outsprinting Joshua Golliker (trainSharp Development team) to take the stage victory on the summit of the epic Black Mountain Pass. Tarling tried everything to animate the chase but found himself slipping back to 12th in the GC heading into stage three.
Pembrey Circuit saw a duel between Tarling and Hobbs as the two riders split from the bunch after just two of the 25 laps of the 1.78km circuit. The pair opened a gap of nearly two minutes, almost catching the back of the bunch and lapping several riders. Hobbs eventually took the stage, again just edging past Tarling down the final straight to retain the yellow jersey.
The race headed out of Pembrey to the village of Nantgaredig for stage four, and it turned out to be a massive afternoon for Zachary Walker and the Utmost IOM Junior Cycling Team. A masterful use of the time bonuses brought the national champion Walker back into contention, finishing the day just 51 seconds behind race leader Hobbs, who led the bunch across the line two minutes further back. The stage win went to Walker’s teammate Ralf Holden with Matthew Cole (BCC Race Team) in third.
Once again, the final 7km climb up the Tumble Mountain on a warm bank holiday afternoon would prove to be decisive.
As the leaders approached the final ascent, and with the peloton starting to breakup behind, it was Tarling and Gilkes that would attack on climb to the summit. Starting the final stage nearly two minutes behind GC leader Hobbs, Tarling knew it would take a monumental effort to close the gap on the strong Trekkerz rider.
Despite a huge effort which saw Tarling take the stage win, the finish line would come too early for the Welshman, finishing second in the overall results, 43 seconds behind Hobbs. Gilkes took second on stage five, 45 seconds ahead of one of the pre-race favourites, Golliker.
It was not to be for Tarling, after spending one day in the blue and one day in the yellow jersey, as Hobbs managed to retain the yellow jersey and take this year’s title.
Golliker ended the weekend with the King of the Mountains jersey, while Pattinson took the young rider’s award, and Fred Meredith (Holohan Coaching Race Team) secured seven points on the final stage to leapfrog Walker and take the sprint jersey.
And after another epic battle throughout the weekend the team competition would go to the Tofauti Everyone Active squad.