The first day of the 2014 North West International Youth Tour started with heavy skies over the UCLan Sports Arena in Preston for the first of five stages over three days.
Over 400 riders from more than 100 clubs and teams from around the country - and one from the Republic of Ireland - hoped it would stay dry, but the forecast didn't look good.
The morning started with a two-lap ‘sprint’ for the Under 8s - if two laps of a one mile circuit can really be called a sprint for Under 8s! At the end of the first lap it was Cian Jackson from Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man who lead from Finlay Tarling of West Wales Cycle Racing Team and British Cycling Youth Circuit Series leader James Brown of Palmer Park Velo - with the rest of the field string out behind them.
At the finish it was Tarling who proved the stronger - taking a narrow win from Jackson with Brown a 10 seconds back in third. Carys Lloyd finished sixth, 40 seconds behind Brown to take maximum points in the Girls competition.
The Under 10s race followed the same format but took a rather different pattern with a large group still together at the end of lap one and a bunch sprint to conclude. James Higham of Eastlands Velo opened out a tenth of a second on Ben Askey of Lichfield City CC on the run-in with Joshua Tarling of West Wales Cycle Racing Team in third. Arwen Roberts of Towy Riders was the first Under 10 Girl.
The rest of the age groups opened their race programme with a Prologue Time Trial and it was the Under 16 Girls who were first away. Charlotte Broughton of MG Decor led at the halfway point with a 2:21.733, but it was the RST Racing Team duo of Jessica Roberts and Eleanor Dickinson who comfortably topped the leaderboard at the end with Roberts second on 2:17.244 and Dickinson clinching the Leader's jersey for the opening circuit race with a 2:17.017.
The early pace in the Under 16 Boys Prologue was set by Robert Gray of Clifton CC with a 2:06.474. Robert Scott of Pedalsport Cycling Club took over about half way through the order with a 2:06.043 before Oliver Peckover set a time of 2:04.050 that would not be bettered. Only Matthew Walls of Velocity WD-40 was able to affect the top three after Peckover’s ride – clocking 2:06.329 to slot in to third between Scott and Gray.
It was Clifton CC which set the early pace in the Under 14 Girls, too, with Anna Docherty clocking 2:30.164. Ellie Park of Glasgow Riderz knocked her off top spot with a 2:28.457 before Poppy Wildman of Nottingham Clarion CC demoted her to third with a 2:29.254. It was Isabel Darvill of VC Lincloln who set the fastest time of all, though – a second up on Park with a 2:27.315.
In the Under 14 Boys Cory Edmondson posted a time of 2:29.441 in one of the early heats and was never beaten. Max Walker of Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man came within six tenths on 2:30.039 before Lewis Hartley secured second place with a 2:29.514.
The Under 14 Boys competition saw ‘home’ rider Alistair Leivers of Blackpool Youth Cycling Association on top early on with a 2:17.596 – a lead he held on to until about halfway through the heats when Lewis Askey of Lichfield City CC undercut him by a few hundredths – reversing the last two digits to clock a 2:17.569. Shortly afterwards, Matthew Burke of Newport Olympic Cycling Club took a commanding lead with a 2:14.553 and nobody else came close.
In the Under 12 Girls Anna Flynn of Edinburgh Riders led briefly with a 2:41.511 but Ava May Oxley-Szilaggi smashed that a couple of heats later with a 2:36.661. With only a handful of rider left Flynn was still second but first Emma Finucane of Towy Riders – 2:40.325 – and Becky Surridge of VC Londres – 2:38.014 – demoted her to fourth.
George Southby of East Bradford CC topped the Under 12 Boys leaderboard with a 2:32.370 until Rhys Thomas of M&D Cycles/Scimitar Sports took over with a 2:31.549. That lead didn’t last long with Robert Donaldson of Mossley CRT knocking a whopping six seconds off that time with a 2:25.80. The closest anyone got to that was Jamie Johnston of Team Thomsons Cycles who took second on 2:26.509 with Guto Dafydd of Towy Riders snatching third late on with a 2:30.723.
Almost as soon as the time trials were concluded, the rain started. By the time the officials had relocated to the alternate Start/Finish area, the rain was torrential. It would stay that way for most of the afternoon.
The four-lap Under 8s race followed a similar pattern to the morning’s Sprint with the same three riders dominating. The finish was closer this time, though, with Jackson taking the win ahead of Brown who had Tarling on his wheel.
The Under 10s race held together with the bunch only stretching out on the run-in to the finish and with the first 17 riders separated by less than nine seconds. The winner of the first race, Higham, could only manage third this time – one place ahead of Tarling - with Askey taking the win from Lewis Dolan of Marton Race Team.
Tighter still was the Under 12 Boys race – every race of the afternoon, bar the opening Under 8s race finished in a sizeable bunch sprint – with 28 riders contesting the finish. The win, though, went to Race Leader Donaldson, well clear of Matti Egglestone of Beacon Wheelers and Dafydd.
By contrast, one of the biggest gaps of the afternoon was in the Under 12 Girls where Becky Surridge of Velo Club de Londres opened up half a second on Race Leader Oxley-Szilaggi, who pipped Hollie Owens of Wolverhampton Wheelers for second.
The start of the Under 14 Girls race was delayed due to earlier incidents and was yet another bunch finish with Park emerging from the gloom and spray to head the 26 rider strong bunch home. Docherty took second with Lusia Steele of Johnstone Wheelers CC third. Race Leader Darvill finished back in ninth but only 0.869 down on the winner.
Another age group, another bunch finish. The 34 of the 69 finishers were still in contention at the end but it was Leivers who pipped Race Leader Burke to the win with William Draper of Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man in third place.
The Under 16 Girls race was shortened, heavily delayed and then stopped and restarted with six laps to go but again saw 34 riders in the bunch on the final gallop. That gallop was won by Broughton from Roberts and Race Leader Dickinson. Although the time game between them was tiny – 0.022 seconds – bonus seconds meant that the lead changed hands between the team mates.
The Under 16 Boys race finally got under way at 7.24pm – almost two hours behind schedule – and turned in to a dramatic ‘nocturne’ event. To nobody’s great surprise it turned in to another bunch sprint contested by almost the entire field – albeit without a few victims of a last lap crash. Race Leader Peckover was down in tenth and it was Walls who took the win from William Turnbull of Marton Race Team and Thomas Pidcock of Aire Valley Race Team.
For day two, the 2014 North West Youth Tour moved down the M55 to Blackpool and the sea front/promenade course at Bispham.
The location had changed, but the format was very similar with all age groups having a time trial in the morning and the circuit race in the afternoon. The Under 8s and Under 10s had a short hill climb, while the older riders did a single lap of the circuit they would be racing on later in the day.
Cian Jackson of Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man was quickest of the Under 8s up the climb, taking just 50 seconds to complete the course. James Brown of Palmer Park Velo was second on 55 with his team mate Greta Carey third overall and fastest girl with a 57 second run – the same time as Finlay Tarling of West Wales Cycle Racing Team.
Benjamin Partridge of Hetton Hawks Cycling Club flew up the hill in 42 seconds – two quicker than Ben Askey of Lichfield City CC with Daniel Holmes of Tyneside Vagabonds CC a second further back.
The Under 12s took a little longer to complete the full circuit – which, of course, included the climb – and it was Jamie Johnston of Team Thomsons Cycles who was quickest with a 3:12.990 – over a second and a half ahead of GC leader Robert Donaldson of Mossley CRT who clocked 3:14.607. Finlay Pickering of Clifton CC was third on 3:18.63.
Becky Surridge of VC Londres followed up her Stage Two win with another in Stage Three – setting a time of 3:30.598. Emma Finucane of Towy Riders was 2.4 seconds back on 3:33.037 with third place going to Maisy Vasic of Eastlands Velo on 3:33.632.
Matthew Burke of Newport Olympic Cycling Club reasserted himself after missing out in Stage Two with a 2:55.885 to finish ahead of Halley Woods of Eastlands Velo – 2:56.980 – and Alistair Leivers of Blackpool Youth Cycling Association – 3:00.134. And, for the record, Jacob Knight of Solihull CC set a time of 3:14.532 to pip his twin brother Harrison to 43rd place.
Isabel Darvill, too, was back on top in the Under 14 Girls Time Trial – setting a time of 3:11.246 to hold off Anna Docherty of Clifton CC on 3:13.717 and Poppy Wildman of Nottingham Clarion CC.
In the Under 16s, Matthew Walls’ Stage Two win was followed by a win on Stage Three – his time of 2:41.786 enough to relegate Prologue winner Oliver Peckover of Sherwood Pines Cycles SRAM RT to second on 2:43.661. Daniel Tullett of Specialized Racing took third with a 2:44.976.
And it was GC Leader Jessica Roberts who dominated the Under 16 Girls Time Trial – at the head of the usual trio – on a 2:56.429 – five seconds ahead of her RST Racing Team colleague Eleanor Dickinson on 3:01.547. Stage Two winner Charlotte Broughton of MG Décor took third with a 3:02.798.
As if once up the hill hadn’t been enough for the Under 8s and Under 10s, they then raced together over four laps. Jackson of Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man was first of the Under 8s home, ahead of Tarling and Brown. The leading ten Under 10s again finished as a bunch with Askey taking the win from Joshua Tarling of West Wales Cycle Racing Team and Lewis Dolan of Marton Race Team. That win left Askey 14 seconds clear of Tarling on General Classification.
The Under 12s managed to get their races done before the rains returned and it was Matti Egglestone of Beacon Wheelers who pipped Donaldson to the win in the Boys race with Johnstone taking third. Donaldson still holds the overnight lead on GC, though, eight seconds ahead of Johnston.
In the Girls’ race Surridge continued her winning streak to take her third stage win in a row in yet another big bunch finish. Finucane took second with Ava May Oxley-Szilaggi third. Surridge has a comfortable, 13 point lead on GC going in to the final day but Oxley-Szilaggi has a twelve point advantage over Vasic in third.
The Under 14 Boys competition is one of the most tightly contested and Stage 4 was no different. Yet another (very wet) bunch finish saw Matthew Shaw of Solihull CC edge out the Race Leader’s jersey of Leivers with Matthew Draper of Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man taking third. The Blackpool rider might have been disappointed not to win on his home circuit, but with his nearest rival Matthew Burke of Newport Olympic Cycling Club down in 11th, it kept the competition alive. Indeed, only two seconds separates Leivers and Burke with one stage to go.
Wildman rode away from the Under 14 Girls field on the run-in to the line to win by the biggest margin of the day – albeit only by four seconds! Lorna Bowler of Hillingdon Slipstreamers was a further two seconds ahead of Anna Docherty of Clifton CC. That result leaves Wildman top of the GC by just a second from Docherty with Ellie Park and Bowler both 11 seconds back.
In the Under 16 Girls the three way tussle continued in Stage Four with Dickinson winning to chip away at her slender GC disadvantage to Roberts, who took second ahead of Broughton. Roberts is four seconds ahead of Dickinson on GC with Broughton a further five seconds back.
Like the Girls race before it, the Under 16 Boys race did look, briefly, as though it might not end in a mass gallop. Jake Dobson of Newcastle Phoenix burned himself out with a solo effort with three to go and Daniell Tullett of Specialized Racing engineered a short-lived five man break but, in the end, the shortened race went the way of all but the Under 14 Girls race as the breaks were all chased down.
And it was Walls in his Race Leader’s jersey that took the win from Harry Hardcastle of Kirklees Cycling Academy and Lewis Bulley of Sports Traider Race Team, leaving him 10 seconds clear of Peckover on GC with Robert Gray of Clifton CC in third.
The final day of the North West Youth Tour kicked off under glorious blue skies and, for the first time over the long weekend, stayed dry throughout.
First up were the Under 16 Girls and for most of the 30 laps the bunch stayed together. There were a couple of probing attacks – including one a sustained effort from Rhona Callander of Stirling Bike Club.
Emily Wadsworth of Beeline Bicycles went with three to go but was quickly re-absorbed into the bunch. Madeleine Gammons of Bourne Wheelers counterattacked with two and a half to go and took 10 seconds in half a lap. That was down to eight seconds at the bell and she was caught with half a lap to go.
First race of the day and it was another bunch sprint – and the first Stage of the competition not to have been won by the top three contenders on General Classification. Sophie Capewell of Lichfield City CC took a good win from the GC leaders Eleanor Dickinson and Jessica Roberts of RST Racing Team and Charlotte Broughton of MG Decor.
That result confirmed Roberts as the overall leader – two seconds ahead of Dickinson and 11 ahead of Broughton. Callander clinched fourth place, 24 seconds off Roberts’ winning time.
The final Under 8s race was the first not to be blown apart early on and saw a group of eight riders – Five boys including the leading three GC riders plus the leading three girls on GC.
Finlay Tarling of West Wales Cycling Team was on the front for most of the race but it was Palmer Park Velo’s James Brown who took the Sprint from Joel Hurt of Stockton Wheelers, Tarling, Bryn Lawrence of Eastlands Velo and Cian Jackson of Team RL360 Isle of Man. The girls weren’t far behind and it was Greta Carey who made it a Palmer Park Velo double, with Caris Lloyd of San Fairy Ann CC second and Millie Coleman of Hillingdon Slipstreamers third in the girls competition.
That left Jackson top of the GC, 12 seconds ahead of Tarling with Brown 33 seconds off the lead. Lloyd was first girl.
The Under 10s followed the pattern of the Under 16 Girls with a big bunch which stayed together to the end. Ben Askey of Lichfield City CC took the Sprint from Lewis Dolan of Marton Race Team, Jamie Gostick of Palmer Park Velo, James Higham of Eastlands Velo, Sam Smith of Towy Riders and West Wales Cycle Racing Team’s Joshua Tarling.
Which left Askey 23 seconds clear of Tarling on GC with Higham third 42 seconds off the lead and Dolan two seconds further back. Evelina Black of Bolton Hot Wheels was first girl.
Another race and another bunch finish in the Under 12 Girl and it was VC Londres’ Becky Surridge who continued her winning streak to take the sprint from Emma Finucane of Towy Riders, Ava May Oxley-Szilaggi of Kirklees Cycling Academy, Anna Flynn of Edinburgh RC, Hollie Owens of Wolverhampton Wheelers and Anna Wadsworth of Beeline Bicycles.
Surridge took the overall by 18 seconds from Oxley-Szilaggi with Flynn in third place 33 seconds off the lead and Maisy Vasic of Eastlands Velo fourth two seconds further back.
In a big bunch – especially for younger riders - it can be really difficult to get away at Salt Ayre, which is really one long dragstrip on one side and a second dragstrip, with a slight kink on the other separated by a long hairpin bend at one end and a technical section at the other. And, once again, nobody succeeded to escape in the Under 12 Boys race. Matti Eggleston of Beacon Wheelers won the bunch Sprint from Robert Donaldson of Mossley CRT, Guto Dafydd of Towy Riders, George Southby of East Bradford CC and Gabriel Banner of Hillingdon Slipstreamers.
Donaldson took the GC win, 14 seconds ahead of Jamie Johnston of Team Thomsons Cycles and 25 ahead of Egglestone with 3 seconds behind Egglestone.
In the Under 14 Girls race it look as though there was the prospect of a break away five laps to go when Megan James of Abergavenny Road Club broke clear but she was wept up within a lap. The gallop was very close with Anna Docherty of Clifton CC taking it from James, Anna Armstrong of Border City Wheelers, Lusia Steele of Johnstone Wheelers CC, Amelia Sharpe of Team RL360 Isle of Man and Elena Shaw of Maindy Flyers Youth CC.
That was enough for Docherty to claim the GC jersey competition with Poppy Wildman of Nottingham Clarion CC 9 seconds back – ten ahead of Armstrong with Lorna Bowler of Hillingdon Slipstreamers two seconds further back in fourth.
The Under 14 Boys race was restarted after a big crash just after the start/finish area with just five laps gone. It was an aggressive race – the last attack coming from Ben Healy of Solihull CC attacks with five to go – but it still failed to break the pattern and we had another big bunch sprint. Matthew Burke of Newport Olympic Cycling Club won it from Jim Brown of Holmfirth Cycling Club, Matt Shaw of Solihull CC, Euan Cameron of Eat Bradford CC, Matthew Lewis of Wolverhampton Wheelers and Lewis Askey of Lichfield City CC.
Burke took the GC victory by eight seconds over Alistair Leivers of Blackpool Youth Cycle Association with Shaw third 14 seconds behind Burk and William Draper of Team Royal London 360 Isle Of Man 18 seconds off the lead.
Like the previous race, the Under 16 Boys race was aggressive with lots of short lived breaks but nothing that stuck. Unlike the Under 14 Boys Race, the big crash after the start/finish area came as the lap counter changed to five to go. Restarted with eight laps to go, the attacks recommenced but they were all together as Matt Draper of Team RL360 Isle of Man took a narrow win from Theo Hartley of Bolton Hot Wheels CC, Thomas Pidcock of Aire Valley Racing Team, Marcus Burnett of Sports Traider Racing Team, Georg Mew Jensen of Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club and Reece Wood of Velocity WD-40.
The overall win in the Under 16 Boys went to Matthew Walls of Velocity WD-40 who had a 20 second cushion over Oliver Peckover of Sherwood Pines Cycles SRAM RT. Sebastian Dickens of Sports Traider Race Team and Robert Scott of Pedalsport Cycling Club tied for third 25 seconds behind Walls.
General Classification (Provisional)
Under 16 Boys
1 Matthew Walls Velocity WD-40 2:56:50
2 Oliver Peckover Sherwood Pines Cycles SRAM RT 2:57:10
=3 Sebastian Dickens Sports Traider Race Team 2:57:15
=3 Robert Scott Pedalsport Cycling Club 2:57:15
5 Reece Wood Velocity WD-40 2:57:15
6 Thomas Pidcock Aire Valley Racing Team 2:57:16
Under 16 Girls
1 Jessica Roberts RST Racing Team 2:28:17
2 Eleanor Dickinson RST Racing Team 2:28:19
3 Charlotte Broughton MG Décor 2:28:28
4 Rhona Callander Stirling Bike Club 2:28:41
5 Henrietta Colborne Beacon Wheelers 2:28:58
6 Rosa Martin Ribble Valley Juniors 2:28:58
Under 14 Boys
1 Matthew Burke Newport Olympic Cycling Club 2:18:31
2 Alistair Leivers Blackpool Youth Cycle Association 2:18:39
3 Matthew Shaw Solihull CC 2:18:45
4 William Draper Team Royal London 360 Isle Of Man 2:18:49
5 Lewis Askey Lichfield City CC 2:18:56
6 Alex Ridehalgh Kirklees Cycling Academy 2:18:57
Under 14 Girls
1 Anna Docherty Clifton CC 2:05:17
2 Poppy Wildman Nottingham Clarion CC 2:05:26
3 Anna Armstrong Border City Wheelers CC 2:05:36
4 Lorna Bowler Hillingdon Slipstreamers 2:05:38
5 Megan James Abergavenny Road Club 2:05:44
6 Ellie Russell Sportcity Velo 2:05:54
Under 12 Boys
1 Robert Donaldson Mossley CRT 1:39:24
2 Jamie Johnston Team Thomsons Cycles 1:39:38
3 Matti Egglestone Beacon Wheelers 1:39:49
4 Guto Dafydd Towy Riders 1:39:52
5 George Southby East Bradford CC 1:40:01
6 Rhys Thomas M & D Cycles/Scimitar Sports 1:40:02
Under 12 Girls
1 Becky Surridge VC Londres
2 Ava May Oxley-Szilaggi Kirklees Cycling Academy
3 Anna Flynn Edinburgh RC
4 Maisy Vasic Eastlands Velo
5 Hollie Owens Wolverhampton Wheelers
6 Danielle Parker Towy Riders
1 Ben Askey Lichfield City CC 0:46:39
2 Joshua Tarling West Wales Cycle Racing Team 0:47:02
3 James Higham Eastlands Velo 0:47:21
4 Lewis Dolan Marton Race Team 0:47:23
5 Jamie Gostick Palmer Park Velo RT 0:47:39
6 Benjamin Partridge Hetton Hawks Cycling Club 0:47:40
1 Cian Jackson Team RL360 Isle of Man 0:47:26
2 Finlay Tarling West Wales Cycle Racing Team 0:47:38
3 James Brown Palmer Park Velo RT 0:47:59
4 Joel Hurt Stockton Wheelers CC 0:49:10
5 Bryn Lawrence Eastlands Velo 0:49:47
6 Carys Lloyd San Fairy Ann CC 0:50:59