Event: 24th July 2011
Promoted by: Aire Valley Racing Team
Venue: Lister Park, Bradford, West Yorkshire
Above: Chris Lawless (Maxgear RT) on his way to winning the Youth A boys race (image: Andrew Kennedy).
Lister Park, Bradford was the superb setting for the 2011 Youth Circuit Championships. The 1.85 km circuit which has in the past played host to a Tour of Britain stage finish proved a very testing course for the 350 youth riders who made the journey to the Yorkshire curry and textile capital. Wide, well surfaced park roads, sweeping fast bends and a brutal climb on every lap, the podium placed riders all earned their positions with brilliant displays of all round bike racing ability.
IMAGES | YOUTH A
Youth A Boys - Photos: Ian Hodgson
Germain Burton (Team De Ver) started this event as the one of the favourites, defending champion and with a growing reputation Burton was the man to beat. Eighty eight riders lined up at the start and on the first ascent of the climb it became clear only the very best would be able to stay in the leading group. Sprint and track specialists were going to have a difficult day at Bradford, the climb was brutal.
After a couple of laps with the main group whittled down to just 30 riders it appeared as though the main contenders were controlling the tempo and things settled down, but not for long. With six laps covered a group of five broke clear on the climb and within a lap opened a gap of 35 seconds. Led by Germain Burton the others were Chris Lawless (Maxgear RT), Tao Geoghegan-Hart (CC Hackney), Jacob Scott (Planet X) and Jake Kelly (Royal London Isle of Man).
This group of riders were never to be seen again, they worked well together to keep their lead. With four laps remaining Lawless led through the finish area and was asking the others to contribute to the work. On the next lap Lawless had opened a small gap and Geoghegan-Hart was the only one to chase him. These two riders would stay clear until the final lap, with Burton, Scott and Kelly unwilling or unable to chase.
On the final lap Geoghegan-Hart attacked Lawless on the long climb, but the two re-joined over the top. At the finish it was Otley Town Centre winner Lawless who got the jump out of the final corner, he was fading towards the line but Geoghegan-Hart had no answer to the power and sprinting skill of Lawless.
Youth A Girls - Photos: Ian Hodgson
It was emotional! The scenes at the finish that is, not the race.
With victory in the National MTB Cross Country last weekend Motorpoint rider Alice Barnes looked very confident on the start line at Bradford. The race got off to a very fast start with Barnes in the company of Bethany Hayward (Welwyn Wheelers), Amy Hill (Newport Velo), Keira McVitty (Kings Cliffe Flyers) and Emily Nelson (Halesowen) breaking clear on the second ascent of the climb. This led to total destruction of the peloton and the remainder of the race had riders forming into very small groups of two or three.
At the front Alice Barnes looked to be in total control, she was leading up the climb, controlling the pace on the descents and flat, and encouraging the others to keep working. Within a few laps Amy Hill had a serious mechanical problem on the climb and was forced to take a lap out. And with Emily Nelson dropped on the climb the leaders were now down to three, Hayward, Barnes and McVitty.
Bethany Hayward was having difficulty staying with Barnes and McVitty, and was trailing at 4 seconds with two laps to go. The Welwyn girl fought hard to get back on terms and at the start of the last lap was back with the leaders.
With the commentator confidently predicting Barnes as the winner, the sight of the relatively unknown rider Keira McVitty leading the sprint was a big surprise for the crowd at the finish. McVitty looked like a seasoned professional as she stormed down the finishing straight four lengths clear of a disappointed Alice Barnes. McVitty was as surprised as anyone at her victory and the tears flowed from her and her large following of family and friends.
IMAGES | YOUTH B
Youth B Boys - Photos: Ian Hodgson
The only large bunch sprint of the day was won by James Ireson (Wolverhampton Wheelers), with Joseph Fry (Welwyn Wheelers) and Joey Walker (RST RT) claiming the other two podium positions.
Youth B Girls - Photos: Ian Hodgson
A fine solo win by Charlotte Broughton (Leics RC), with Megan Barker (Maindy Flyers) at 33 seconds. Local girl Abby-Mae Parkinson (Aire Valley RT) led home the remainder of the field.
IMAGES | YOUTH C & D
Youth C Boys - Photos: Ian Hodgson
Daniel Tulett (Hargroves Cycles) time trialled his way to victory in the Youth C race, a massive 1 min 26 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Anthony Anderson (Kingston Wheelers CC). Hillingdon rider Charles Page won a small group sprint to claim 3rd and lead home the splintered peloton.
Youth C Girls
Charlotte Cole-Hossain, a sprinter in the making, that was the opinion of those in the know at Lister Park, Bradford. The VC Londres rider performed a perfectly timed sprint to win ahead of Jessica Roberts (Towys Riders) and Megan James (Abergavenny RC).
Youth D Boys and Girls - Photos: Ian Hodgson
Ben Tullet (Palmer Park Velo) jumped off the front at the start and was never seen again. The young man showed everyone a clean pair of heels and won by nearly a minute. Kieran Morris (Mid Shropshire Wheelers) and Tosh Teare (Royal London Isle of Man) sprinted for 2nd and 3rd, with Anna Armstrong (Border City Wheelers) 1st girl.
The organising team at Bradford can be justifiably proud of their efforts in staging the National Championships. The venue was 1st class, and the event was a brilliant showcase of what can be achieved by a dedicated team of cycling volunteers. The day had the vibe of a major sporting event, with the bonus of thousands of spectators from the local Bradford community enjoying the racing and participating in British Cycling Go-Ride activities. Only one complaint was overheard from a disgruntled rider, "they need to get rid of that climb, we don't have them at the track league".
VIDEO: INTERVIEWS WITH YOUTH A WINNERS