Published: 29 August 2012
Event: Junior Tour of Wales
Article by: Alan Denman, Regional Development Officer
Images: Guy Swarbrick
A Scotland junior team of Craig Wallace, Peter Hale, Dale Mccallum and Stuart McCluskey took part in the RIS Junior Tour of Wales over the bank holiday weekend.
Scottish Cycling coaches Alan Denman, Graeme Herd, Craig Mcculloch and Scott Couch also took along a first year junior squad along of Cameron Balfour, Callum Foster, aidan Quinn and Gavin Shuttleworth as well as two riders Ryan Fenwick and Ross Green who who competing for their respective clubs.
The race is run over 3 days and consists of five stages and as well as having all the countries top juniors, it also has international teams competing. A 4 mile Time Trial up Tumble mountain on Saturday morning starts the race off, followed in the afternoon by a fifty mile road race finishing with a three mile climb to the finish.
Sunday starts with a brutal circuit race around Bryn Back park in the morning followed by a rolling and fast forty five mile road race.
The race climaxes with a sixty mile brutally hilly road race around the Brecon Beacons, climaxing in a finish climb up the famous Tumble mountain.
The race started well for the Scots with two riders, Craig Wallace and Gavin Shuttleworth, placing in the top 10.
Onto the first road stage in the afternoon. With the rain rain being on and off all morning, the service cars were in constant demand as the punctures came thick and fast.
With all the favorites watching each other, a group of riders slipped clear and built up a good lead. The Scots played the waiting game to their peril, hoping that all the big hitters would co ordinate a chase. By the time everyone got their act together to chase, it was to late. It was left to the climb for our climbers to attempt to close the gaps. Craig and Dale finished together, and despite putting time into many of the favotites, failed to close on the break.
Young Callum Foster and Aidan Quinn who were away on their first Scotland trip trip and particularly impressed SC performance coach with their gutsy ascent of the mountain.
Day two and onto the circuit race. This is a circuit race like no other. A 3km lap, which basically goes up the side of a hill, along the top and back down a super fast and technical descent, given no time for recovery.
The aim for the team was to protect Craig and Dale and ensure they didn’t loose any time. All the scots worked their socks off to ensure the lads kept a good position at the front. Craig then made a bold move for freedom with a strong looking quartet. The bunch chased super hard led by British champion Sam Lowe who took the stage win.
The afternoons stage was a fast and frantic affair with constant attacks, with riders trying desperately to form a breakaway group and steal back some time. Listening to the race radio in the car it was really encouraging to hear our riders numbers constantly being called out, attempting to go clear.
Finally, with five miles to go a trio of riders broke free, which included Dale Mccallum. The gap went out to 27 seconds and the trio were giving it everythin to stay clear from and super fast moving bunch, determined to pull them back. Down to eight seconds and all looked doomed. A slight hesitation from the bunch allowed the gap to go out to 17 seconds again. All was looking good for a definite podium finish if not a stage win, when the bunch kicked back into life. Hanging on from their life the group were cruelly caught with 700 metres to go. So close!
Onto the last day and onto the hardest day, which with torrential rain was going to be even harder than normal. The plan was to go for the stage win for Craig Wallace. The team would ensure that all the breaks were covered and that Craig was protected from the wind and delivered to the bottom of the mountain as fresh as possible.
Every single one of the Scottish riders rode themselves into the ground for the good of the team.
A small group had escaped containing the yellow jersey and some of the top climbers. With the gap stretching out to one minute thirty five seconds it was time to do something about it. Peter Hale took charge and rounded up the Scots to the front of the bunch. A massive effort resulted in the group coming back to within twenty seconds. Now a couple of miles from the bottom of the climb, the last part of the plan was put into place with Ryan Fenwick taking Craig across to the front group. With everything now set up for Craig to do his stuff, the rest of the team were left to make their way up the mountain exhausted. When we passed Ryan on the bottom slopes, he was barely able to move his bike fast enough to stay upright, but smiling and happy for a job well done.
Once on the mountain, Craigs group split in two, with Craig staying in the front split. Specialist climber from the Mountivation junior development team made an early break for freedom and opened up a good lead. Further up the climb, Craig gave chase, followed only by the yellow jersey. Coming up to the last section the leader was in sight and Craig took off, leaving the yellow jersey. Chasing flat out, Craig just ran out of time to catch the leader and had to settle for second place. A little disappointing, but still a super result.
After the race it was a great experience to see each of the Scots cross the line and the first thing they wanted to know was how Craig did. Hugs all round, from the riders, proved what a great team ride they had all done and just how much pride they had all taken in the team achievement.
Craigs comments afterwards were to say just how pleased he was with his result and how proud he was of his team mates.
Craig on the podium!