The final day of the North West International Youth Tour was a circuit race on Blackpool Promenade.
With it being Bank Holiday Monday tradition dictated that the heavens opened just as racing began. The riders and spectators were treated to a spectacular display of waves crashing across the circuit, but in the tradition of cycling everyone just got on with it.
The day began with the finale of the Youth A Girls race. The early part of the race was a procession broken only by the Belgian squad showing their colours at the front. The strong headwind on the lower part of the circuit discouraged the brave or foolhardy from making a break.
With six laps remaining Abby-Mae Parkinson (RST Trigon) decided the time was perfect to launch an attack. The Yorkshire girl might have been expecting a reaction or maybe some company, but the peloton let her ride away. She powered up the short climb and with the wind behind her on the top part of the circuit she increased her lead to over a minute. Overnight GC leader Charlotte Broughton (MG Decor) had the most to lose, but sat tight in the main field. Into the final lap and the RST Trigon rider was still out front, easily taking the win 38 seconds ahead of the next rider.
Abby-Mae had ridden consistently in the previous stages but hadn't featured anywhere near the top of the rankings. Her brave attack at Blackpool catapulted her to the top of the GC making her the overall winner of the Youth A Girls race, moving Charlotte Broughton and Lucy Shaw into 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Calum Anderton (Motivo RT) blasted the Youth A Boys race apart on the Blackpool Prom. Not content to wait for a bunch sprint Calum attacked with about 8 laps remaining and rode away from the boys.
Overnight GC leader Joe Holt was sat in the middle of the main field content to let the others do the chasing. Only in the closing couple of laps did a reaction come from the chasers when Irish rider Dion McCarthy led the charge. Holt had a 15 second lead going into this final race but with time bonuses on offer for the stage winner his position was far from safe.
Calum Anderton was the stage winner followed by McCarthy, with a very tired looking Joe Holt in the middle of the bunch. After a nail biting few minutes whilst the judges did their calculations it was announced Joe Holt had retained top spot by just one second from Calum Anderton.
Dan Tullet (Hargroves Cycles) again put on a master class of bike racing in the Youth B Boys race. The overnight GC leader raced on the front of the bunch to ensure he kept out of trouble. With the weather conditions worsening as his race progressed he slipped off the front on the climb from the lower part of the circuit. The rest of the boys bowed to the inevitable and watched as he sped away to another brilliant stage and overall victory.
Jessica Roberts (Towy Riders) was also in a class of her own in the Youth B Girls race. As the girls peloton battled against the horrendous weather conditions Jessica simply rode away from them. She then went on to nearly lap the entire field, there were times when she also looked as though she could have easily caught and passed the NEG escort motorbike being piloted by David Greatorex, but sensibly she stayed behind. Jessica had the biggest GC time margin of all the races at the Youth Tour, winning by over four minutes.
In the remainder of the categories all the overnight leaders kept their winning positions. Lewis Ashley comfortably won the Youth C Boys race and GC overall. Poppy Wildman won the Youth C Girls race at Blackpool and kept her leaders jersey.
Ben Askey and Anna Wadsworth won the Youth D categories, with Daniel Wylie Morris and Awen Roberts both retaining their top positions in the Youth E categories.
The Salt Ayre Circuit at Lancaster was the venue for the second day of hard and aggressive racing in the International Youth Tour. The riders and their travelling caravan of family supporters in camper vans and tented village took over the parkland setting ready for another fiercely contested day of bike racing.
The overnight leaders, resplendent in their New Charter jerseys, were keen to keep hold of them for the duration, but the youth categories are teeming with competition and the only way to ensure top spot is to continually race at the front and cover all the attacks.
The Youth A Boys leaders Joe Holt (Welsh Cycling Project 2018) did just that. Joe managed to stretch his GC advantage to 15 seconds after the two Salt Ayre races, from Joseph Fry (RST Trigon). Irish rider Dion McCarthy moved to third overall after his perfectly timed sprint win on the second race of Sunday.
Charlotte Broughton (MG Décor) goes into the Monday stages with a slender lead of just one second from Lucy Shaw (Solihull CC). Royal London Isle of Man rider Elizabeth Holden overtook Dutch visitor Fleur Nagengast to claim third spot with Fleur still in contention. Grace Garner (RST Trigon) moved up the GC by winning the final Sunday race, but Grace still has a lot of work to do to get amongst the top three.
Dan Tulett (Hargroves Cycles) had to settle for second place on the final race of Sunday, but the young South East rider is still 10 seconds ahead of the rest on GC. William Turnbull (Tyneside Vagabonds) is snapping at his heels taking a win today, but Tulett remains in the lead as a result of his dominance so far in the previous stages. Fred Wright (VC Londres) is in third position overall, 26 seconds behind.
The Youth B Girls race is hotting up nicely with Jessica Roberts (Towy Riders) increasing her GC lead to 20 seconds over Cardiff Jif rider Sophie Williams. Jessica won both Sunday stages to maintain her green New Charter leaders jersey. The top three in this category remained the same with Lowrie Thomas (Abervegenny RC) holding onto third 28 seconds adrift.
The Youth C Boys races on Sunday had just one winner in the form of Lewis Ashley riding for Lichfield City CC. Lewis dominated the Salt Ayre stages and increased his overall lead to 18 seconds. Alfred George (Discovery Juniors) lies second and Hargroves rider Ben Tulett third at 24 seconds.
Drama in the Youth C Girls races saw overnight leader from Saturday Anna Armstrong (Border City Wheelers) get caught up in a crash in the first race of the day. Anna battled back and was awarded the same time as the main peloton of finishers, but an audacious attack in the closing laps split the field and Anna lost her jersey. Nottingham rider Poppy Wildman took the lead and increased her GC time to 8 seconds advantage by winning the second race of the day.
Ben Askey (Lichfield City CC) leads the Youth D category from Ben Peat field (Bolton Hotwheels) by 9 seconds. The leading girl is Anna Wadsworth (Palmer Park Velo).
No change overnight in the Youth E races as Daniel Wylie Morris (Abergervenny CC) leads with Awen Roberts (Towy Riders) comfortable in 1st girl position.
The whole travelling circus moves to the seaside at Blackpool for the final days racing on Bank Holiday Monday. With heavy rain and strong winds forecast the racing on Blackpool promenade will be different to the two days of sunny conditions the riders have enjoyed had so far. Only a few seconds separate the top placed riders in all the categories and the final day will be decisive.
Meanwhile, super heroes Spiderman and Superman put in an appearance at the International Youth Tour on Sunday.
Organiser and race commentators Matt Winston and Colin Armstrong dressed up to entertain the crowd and at the same time collect money for the Lewis Balackyi Fund. The comedy duo demanded money with menaces from unsuspecting race goers.
They kept up the act all day, which resulted in full collection boxes for this great cause.
After a prolonged winter and creeping spring the sun finally made an appearance on the first day of the North West International Youth Tour at Preston on Saturday, the latest round of the British Cycling National Youth Circuit Series.
More than 400 riders together with their parents and supporters were able to bask in delightful summer sunshine at the Preston University Sports Arena and enjoy some top quality bike racing.
This long established International event is run by the well-polished CDNW team headed by Ivor Armstrong and Matt Winston.
The day at Preston kicked off with an individual time trial prologue for the Youth A Boys and Girls, which helped sort out the gridding for the later circuit races and give the riders prologue experience ahead of the European Youth Olympics.
Mark Cavendish holds the Youth rider the time trial lap record of 2.04 on the Preston circuit, a record that has remained unbeaten since 2002. That is until today when Joe Holt (Welsh Cycling Project 2018) shaved a whole second off Cav’s record.
Holt showed his promise as a rising sprint star in the mould of Cavendish by then going on to win the circuit race stage with a superbly timed sprint coming from 4th wheel out of the final corner. Holt has a 6 second lead going into Sundays race.
Dutch rider Fleur Nagengast was the fastest against the clock in the Youth A girls time trial, with Charlotte Broughton and Lucy Shaw on joint 2nd. The circuit race was hotly contested and the same three girls featured in the results, but with Broughton winning from Shaw and Dutch visitor Nagengast having to settle for third.
This circuit race could be described as tactical, but for quite a few laps the pace was slower than some of the younger riders events. But for sure the sprints were fast and furious and Charlotte Broughton heads into day 2 with a 3 second advantage over Lucy Shaw.
There is no doubt that Daniel Tulett is a star of the future, the Hargroves Cycles rider dominated the Youth B Boys races on Saturday. Tulett took convincing wins in both the Preston races on Saturday and goes into the Lancaster stage with 6 seconds lead on another brilliant rider William Turnbull (Tyneside Vagabonds).
Jessica Roberts (Towy Riders) took advantage of the time bonuses on offer in the Youth B Girls races and holds an 11 second lead into day 2. Welsh riders although on different teams hold the top four places in this category, showing the strength in depth of the girls from across the border.
Cardiff riders Elizabeth Bennett and Sophie Williams just lead Lauri Thomas in fourth.
The sheer number of entrants in the Youth E,D and C Categories forced the organisers to split the races for the first time in the Youth Tour history.
The under 8’s Youth E was dominated by Daniel Wylie-Morris riding for Abergavenny RC, with fellow Welsh rider Awen Roberts (Towy Riders) winning the girls event.
The under 10s Youth D races were won by Ben Askey, and Ben has a solid 6 second lead going into the 2nd day. The leading girl in this age category is Hannah Wadsworth (Palmer Park Velo) who raced to a superb 9th overall against the boys.
Anna Armstrong riding for Border City Wheelers was a convincing winner in the Youth C girls races winning both Saturday events and leads the category with a 6 second advantage.
The Youth C Boys was also dominated by one rider, Lewis Askey (Lichfield City CC) stormed to two big wins to give him a safe 6 second cushion for the Lancaster stage.
The racing now moves onto the Lancaster Salt Ayre Sports Centre circuit on Sunday before the final stage on Blackpool Promenade on Bank Holiday Monday.
Full results from the North West International Youth Tour are on the CDNW website, here
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.