European Youth Summer Olympic Festival
Location: Trabzon, Turkey
Event: 23-29 July 2011
Whilst the Under 23s and Juniors were busy competing in Portugal at the European Track Championships, a small team of three youth boys were experiencing their first taste of an international, multi-sport environment as they donned the Great Britain cycling jersey for the very first time in their young careers.
Shot of the crit race from day two
Talent Team members Chris Lawless, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jacob Scott were the selected riders and within hours of finishing first, second and third in the National Youth Circuit Race Championships were Heathrow bound and looking forward to taking on over 95 riders from 32 European countries in three days of competition - an individual time trial, a criterium and finally a road race.
Day one was the TT. At 9km, it was a relatively short affair and on a course that posed limited technical challenges - a dead turn was it, the focus was on getting ‘everything out' physically, choosing the best lines, and getting around the dead turn super quick! The event was to provide the highest finishing position of the three days of the boy's as Tao just missed a medal to grab fourth place. Chris made sixteenth and Jacob thirty-seventh with his best day to come.
Day two - crit day. Criteriums are standard fare for the GB lads, and on what looked a technically straight forward course it would be the small things that would make a difference to all the young riders results plus possibly, the heat. It was ‘cooking' in the mid to high 30's but with all credit to the young Brit's, they just took it all in their stride and got on with the job in hand. With the heats out of the way, the final was a tough affair with no let up, and with a fair height gain each lap and tough virtual dead turns. Three riders were away in the final three laps of the 1.7km course, but with a committed ‘do or die' effort from Tao, it was all back together. A mass scurry out of the last corner saw Jacob managed a creditable sixth place over the line.
As with the previous two day's events, the road race on day three was also based downtown, starting and finishing on the cobbled streets of the main square. The finish straight was the link between the previous days courses, and this was a tough uphill section that was sure to take its toll among the weaker riders. After Chris Lawless got himself involved in some early activity, the race remained largely intact despite the numerous efforts of many of the 95 plus young riders that took to the start line.
With just 10 of the 70km remaining, Tao was to the fore and forcing a move away over the top of the climb for the last time. Without the required mix of nations included in the move, it was all back together as the race descended towards the coast road for the last time. A momentary ease of pace led to two riders sliding clear to race out the top two positions, leaving the bunch to sprint it out for the last remaining podium place. Jacob and Tao both finished in the leading bunch in twenty-first and twenty-sixth places.
Demonstrating their potential throughout the three days of competition off the back of taking the top three places in the British Circuit Race Champs, the three youngsters can be proud of how they performed and certainly have plenty to strive towards in the future.