The Scottish Cycling Youth Tour of Scotland has returned for a fifth consecutive year this weekend with teams from throughout the UK and afar, including Belgium, Isle of Man, Ireland and Wales travelling to compete at one of the best youth stage races on the calendar. Here is what happened.
One of the Youth Tour of Scotland’s classic routes, the riders favourite, and clouds that look like they would stay at bay all gave us all confidence of a good, and dry, race today – and that is what we got, mixed in with some top quality racing.
Stage 1 of the weekend, a road race around Forteviot, was always going to be challenging for the youth riders – matching up against new opponents; everyone on the road deserved to be there, having already proven themselves to their clubs and teams that they should be the ones to be on the start line.
The course itself, although looks simple enough on a map, has its challenges – hilly, tight bends and Scottish tarmac – and the speed which was built up on the long straights between heightened the risk and proved the skills of the most talented riders in the UK and beyond.
The girls went first, keeping together until the battles started for the various jerseys: green, red, yellow, blue and polka.
Ella Barnwell, cycling for Wales, took the top podium spot and will be the first girl to ride in the yellow jersey at stage 2, the team time trial. Ellie Russell, Speedflex RT, and Lorna Bowler, Team Jadan, took the second and third spots respectively.
However, the overall team for the girls was Team Jadan made up of Lorna Bowler, Charlotte Dalton, Eve Martin and Amelia Sharpe – all the blue and pink turning red for tomorrow’s race.
Amelia Sharpe also received first place in the Queen of the Mountain competition, receiving the polka dot jersey for the start of tomorrow’s race – a good start for Team Jadan.
Anna Shackley took the blue jersey for the leading Scottish rider, cycling for Scottish Cycling West and Ella Barnwell, as well as securing the yellow jersey, took the points jersey too.
The boys were up next; we thought the girls were fast, but the boys did their best to up the pace.
Once they got underway again, it was a battle to the very end, with two boys pushing out front from the start, Jonathon Hilbourne from Scottish Cycling West and then Emerson Fontaine from Blancs Gilet Brabant Wallon – our international team from Belgium creating over a nine second lead.
However, the dynamic changed and in the end Matt Burke, from the Welsh Team took the yellow jersey with Alfie George from Discovery Juniors and Wolverhampton Wheelers Matthew Lewis taking the next two spots. Despite a bunch crash in the closing meters, most riders got back onto their bikes, and were loudly applauded over the line by spectators – with positive reports from those riders hospitalized.
Although not represented in the top three, Ireland came out as the top team of the race, the team included Conner Halvey, Aaron Doherty, Adam Ward and Mark Smith.
Discovery Juniors Alfie George went out there to win, pushing to the front during the sprints and ending up with the green point’s jersey as well as the blue jersey as the top Scottish rider.
The infamous polka dot jersey however went to Belgian rider Thibault Dely after winning King of the Mountain.
Following an interesting evening presentation and discussion from Scottish Cycling’s Endurance coach, Mark McKay, the riders were left to prepare for stage 2 at Coupar Angus: the Team Time Trial, which takes place on Sunday morning.
It was foggy, drizzly, cold, and pretty muddy for a road race – but it was also stage 2 of the Youth Tour of Scotland which was a Team Time Trial.
A race which was new to some of the riders – which meant that the early morning fog was mixed with excitement and nerves as the teams approached the start line.
The route, just outside Coupar Angus was a challenging one, last used by Scottish Cycling at the inter-regional road race championships in 2011, but both the boys and the girls flew round the course, shrugging off any hint that the route might have had difficulties.
Ella Barnwell, Elynor Backstedt and Megan James took the top position competing as Wales A in the Team Time Trial – the triplet proving to be a strong team from the start.
Team Jadan’s Amelia Sharpe, Charlotte Dalton and Lorna Bowler came second, with Cycle Sport Pendle – Ava Oxley-Szilagy, Corinne Side, Georgia Ashworth and Rhiannon Gornall taking the final podium spot.
Next up, with a hard act to follow was the boys.
Team RL 360 Isle of Man A proved to be on top, with William Draper, Tosh Teare, Thomas Bostock and Adam Kelly taking first place.
However, Wales A - Zach Bridges, Oscar Mingay, Matt Burke and James Codd were hot on their heels taking second place with the same time; beaten only by hundredths of a second.
Matthew Dobbing, Dylan Hughes and Adam Jarps from Team North East took the final spot on the podium.
After stage 2, all riders were wet, muddy but smiling – Ella Barnwell and Matt Burke, both from Wales A continued on to stage 3, girls and boys respectively, with the yellow jerseys.
Ella Barnwell also held the points jersey, with Team Jadan’s Amelia Sharpe retaining the polka dot King of the Mountains title from stage one.
In the boys, Discovery Juniors Alfie George kept the points jersey and the polka dot jersey was retained by Belgian rider Thibault Dely.
Anna Shackley from Scottish Cycling West also managed to hold on to her blue jersey as the top female Scot after Stage 2 and Dylan Hughes from Team North East took the blue jersey in the boy’s races.
However, it was all to play for – and after a lunch, cup of tea and a change of clothes – the riders were back on the start line that afternoon to contend their positions in the Coupar Angus Road Race.
Once the riders had dried off, they got back onto their bikes to take on the course again – but all together this time.
The girls set off, and after five laps of the tricky, narrow, windy roads made it back to the finish line to almost dry conditions.
Ellie Russell from Speedflex RT, Gabriella Homer, West Midlands and Elynor Backstedt from Wales A crossed the finish line at the front of a very strong peloton in places 1st, 2nd and 3rd – proving just how close the race had been.
However, Ella Barnwell retained the top position in general classification meaning she will go into the final stage tomorrow in the yellow jersey.
Anna Shackley and Amelia Shackley also retained their jerseys in the stage – blue and polka – and will be fighting it out tomorrow to keep them. However, Ellie Russell from Speedflex RT claimed the points jersey this time – setting off in green tomorrow.
Stage 3 continued to be a challenging ride when the boys set off from the start line – the strong, quick and lengthy peloton causing a few crashes along the course – with most riders bouncing back to join in as quickly as they possibly could.
The riders resilience, good humor and love of cycling was commended by on looking spectators from neighboring houses.
By the end of the race, Alfie George from Discovery Juniors, Adam Kelly from Team RL 360 Isle of Man A and Connor Halvey from Ireland took the top three spots – smiles on their faces as they crossed the finish line in the first sunshine of the day.
By the end of the day Adam Kelly, from Team RL 360 Isle of Man A took the well fought for yellow jersey in general classification and Dylan Hughes from the North East retained his blue jersey as top Scot.
Alfie George again kept the points jersey and Alistair Leivers from Speedflex RT moved in to take the polka dot jersey as King of the Mountain.
After a shower, a hearty dinner and some warm clothing the riders gathered back at Strathallan School for the presentation of jerseys – all ready for the final stage tomorrow: the Strathallan Kermesse.
The weather was just a bad as the day before, the course tighter, muddier and with less room for error – but as the youth riders lined up on the start line for the final race – they were all smiles.
The girls were up first, 10 laps of the short circuit with Alana Prior from the North East taking 1st place, followed by Gabriella Homer from the West Midlands and Ellie Russell from Speedflex RT as the boys looked on, waiting for their turn on the course.
When the boys lined up the course was so muddy you could mistake it for cyclocross – a fitting end to a testing weekend of racing.
Not only were the boys racing through mud, determined to secure the jerseys at the end, but a series of mechanicals and battles to the front made for an interesting race for the spectators who lined the banks of the course.
An impressive effort from Halley Woods from Sportcity Velo A who broke his pedal crank and continued to the top of the hill cycling one legged – twice; desperate to avoid a ‘DNF’ on the results list.
First to cross the finish line was Josh Price from Wales B, Thibault Dely from Blancs Gilet took second place and North Easts Dylan Hughes came in third after a breath taking lap which changed the front of peloton dramatically after a sprint up the final hill.
After a shower the riders all gathered back at Strathallan School to hear who the overall winners were of the Youth Tour of Scotland 2016. Jersey’s were presented by Mike Williamson from Perth and Kinross Council, Strathallan School’s Director of Sport Audrey Syme, Scottish Cycling’s Head of Performance Gary Coltman and Head of Development Vicky Strange.
Ella Barnwell from Wales A took the yellow jersey, with Dylan Hughes - a Scottish riders cycling for the North East England team taking the yellow jersey for the boys.
The overall teams over the weekend were Wales A for the girls, and Team RL 360 Isle of Man A for the boys – both incredibly strong teams across all four stages.
The blue jerseys for top Scottish rider went to both Anna Shackley from Scottish Cycling West and yellow jersey winner Dylan Hughes. The girls podium for top Scot was a wipe out of Scottish Cycling West riders with Lusia Steele, and Ellie Park taking second and third.
In the points competition, Ellie Russell from Speedflex RT and Discovery Juniors CC Alfie George ended up in the green.
Team Jadan rider Amelia Sharpe and Alistair Leivers from Speedflex RT took the polka dot jersey’s for overall King of the Mountain.
Scottish Cycling would like to give a huge congratulations to all of the riders who took part, and a thank you to the communities of Forteviot, Forgandenny and Coupar Angus, Perth and Kinross Council, the volunteers and commissaires and also Strathallan School for helping to make a fantastic weekend of racing. Here is to next year!