Location: Forge Valley Community School, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Event: 13-15 September 2013
Report: George Gilbert
Held across the notoriously hilly Sheffield countryside – on the route of the 2014 Tour de France – the last day of the School Games / Inter-Regional Road Championship was always going to be tough.
With 45mph winds, gusting higher on the exposed hill-tops, and driving horizontal rain thrown in for good measure, the 3 road races (for VI para-cyclists on tandems, and teams of girls and boys from each of the 10 English Regions, Scotland, Ulster and Wales) proved to be the ultimate test of mind, body and soul.
In the tandem event, yet again the racing was incredibly close; with the gold, silver and bronze medal winning teams only separated by 200m at the finish – Joe Widdowson and Josh Walling breaking away for the others for the win.
The boys and girls road races were equally exciting and tightly fought with breaks constantly forming and being reeled back in, before a select small bunch of a dozen riders were left on the final lap.
In the girls race it was Grace Garner who broke clear on the final climb to take the win for the East Midlands and Lewis Stevens representing the Eastern Region who snuck away from the final few riders for victory in the boys.
All the riders however drove themselves harder than they ever may have expected they could and will come away with the confidence and knowledge that they can perform at a higher level and an experience of top-level road racing that they will never forget.
In the overall Inter-Regional Championship competition, the North West extended their lead over Wales to be crowned the winners for 2013. West Midlands slipped a few points back in third but over the previous days had built up a big enough cushion over the East Midlands in fourth for both teams to retain their overnight positions.
As always the battle for mid-table supremacy was very close with Ulster taking a well-deserved fifth place ahead of a tightly grouped Eastern, South East, South West, Yorkshire, Scotland and South. Rounding off the field, the North East just nudged ahead of Central with their riders hanging on to come in a few places higher in the final race.
Regardless of their final positions however, all the teams acquitted themselves outstandingly well throughout the competition. As the event builds in stature, more and more notice is being taken of the strength in depth cycling has, and our regional / national teams have risen to that challenge.
This year, watched on by CEOs and Directors of other NGBs, Sport England, the Youth Sport Trust and the British Olympic Association, our athletes have done British Cycling proud.
It is a huge credit to them, and the Team Managers, coaches, Regional Boards, officials and others who have supported them, that we can showcase the sport in this way and provide such a strong development platform for a future generation of world class talent.
Please credit www.britishcycling.org.uk and link back if you use any of our race results.
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.