At the 2016 Youth Tour of Scotland, two teams represented Scottish Cycling West - a boys team and a girls team. Here the riders report from the event and how it went for them and their teams.
Prior to the event
We did manage 3 or 4 training runs prior to ytos with some of the Jets and Riderz teams which was really good to see the keen and able kids in the region and not just in the regional teams. All the team members managed to ride round all stages prior to the event which I do think helped them even just to remove any worries as to what the courses would be like. For anyone who is thinking about managing a team for ytos or similar all I can say is speak to coaches who have done it before as they will be generous with their help and the kids will just totally impress you as to how organised, polite, dedicated and really gritty (both metaphorically and literally) the kids are, they did their clubs and parents proud this year in some of the toughest conditions they will see. Finally really worth highlighting how well this event was run by Bob and his team and Paul and his comms team. Inspirational is the word I'm left with.
Edd Shackley (Boys team manager)
We started the first day warming up in our team gazebo at the school where we got a team photo, we headed to the race early and got a good start. The race was stopped due to a big crash in the first lap but we all made it through unharmed. The race was restarted minus the one lap and it kicked off quickly. The front of the bunch sprinted for a prime and I, Jonathon, stayed close behind them, just when they slowed up I attacked and took about 10 seconds on them. Half a lap later I was caught by a rider who worked with me to stay away for the rest of the lap. We sprinted for the prime but he bet me and we were quickly caught, the rest of the race continued without any huge events until I went down in a huge crash 500m out from the finish of the race but my team mates all stayed up and unharmed. I got up and rode over the line but I had broken my helmet and needed a new one! Because I went down the last KM I was given the same time as the bunch which I was happy with.
Stage two of The youth Tour of Scotland took place on the second day in Cooper Angus. This stage was a Team Time Trial, the course was the same as the crit that took place later that day, the circuit was 6km long. The weather was dreary, wet and cold. We took our positions on the start line and lined up ready to go. Jack was at the front he gave us a strong start, I was second in line followed by Jonathon then Oran. The course was fairly flat with only minor elevations, so it was fast. The team was very smooth when riding had good changes and stayed together throughout, all 4 of us sped to the finish line together. We were pleased with how the race went but knew we could have pushed harder.
We all felt pretty confident for stage 2. The only thing that we were worrying about was the dodgy corners and keeping together. We were quite happy with how the course had no major hills and had a nice fast down hill. We all warmed up at the car park and made our way there, the weather wasn't the best, but we all had high spirits. We all stayed together and got around okay which was the main thing.
We finished a respectable 8th, which was alright considering we had never done a time trial together and we are all different abilities. Overall, we enjoyed the TTT together, as it was something a bit different.
Stage 3 of youth tour of Scotland was based in Coupar Angus in some of the grimmest weather conditions I have ever raced in. We were soaking and freezing after the team time trial and all we really wanted to do was go back to school and crawl into bed. Anyways, we got on with it and after a couple of laps Abbie gets a puncture and Ellie once again goes down in a crash, thankfully Ellie was okay and got back up to finish the race, meanwhile Anna and I were up in front bunch when it came down to a bunch sprint at the finish. I started my sprint to early and got 8th but was happy to finally get a top 10 in Youth Tour of Scotland after 3 years of racing it. Anna rode a strong race to get 15th and retain the Scottish leaders jersey. Thank you very much to Neil and Edd for being team managers and to Morven for team coordinator. Also a big thank you to all at Scottish cycling for making the 3 days of racing something to remember, its not often in youth races you get to race on roads like that.
Stage 3 was the second road stage of the day after the team time trial in the morning. Unlike last year we didn’t have to worry about getting sunburn because it was back to the normal Scottish weather of being freezing cold and raining.
The stage was a 60km race around Coupar Angus. The race got under way in the rain and soon settled down for 9 laps of the course. One lap completed with no major upsets but on the back straight of the second lap there was a big crash with split the bunch in 2 and held back most of our team. I got past the crash and was chasing on when the race was neutralized and then stopped at the finish. After waiting 10 minutes for the ambulance to come the race was re started. With 3 laps to go the race was getting into its closing stages and was starting to become a little jumpy, as we came round with what we thought was going to be 2 to go, we came up the start finish straight and we heard the sound of the bell indicating the last lap of the race. I was too far back to have any chance of winning the stage so I just wanted to get round the last lap unscathed and stay upright. I finished mid bunch which I was quite disappointed about because I knew it was a stage that suited me and that I should have done better.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Edd for being our team manager and looking after us, and also to Neil for helping us out and cleaning us up after our crashes (which there was quite a few of) and also to Morven for organising it all and sorting out all the logistics that made us able to take part in one of the best races of the year.
The Kermesse course was 2.55 kilometres long and featured an off-road section along the finishing straight, a fast descent, and then a short but painfully steep climb back up to the finish again. Speed bumps, pot holes and tight corners provided additional difficulties. We had 16 laps of the course to complete. Jonathon and I were gridded in the top 40 after the previous stages. The race set off and it was neutralised just before the first climb. After three laps the race had completely splintered into a small lead bunch, a group of about twenty riders and the remaining stragglers in dribs and drabs. Jonathon and I ended up in a tertiary group for several laps before the group also broke up, Jonathon had a lot of vision problems with mud on the course misting his glasses. Jack and Matti battled to the last and we all finished with a fine layer of Perthshire mud coating our faces and kit. Dylan Hughes rode a very impressive race leading out on his own for lap after lap. He lost in the final seconds after an incident with a Belgian rider. Thank you to Edd Shackley (the boy’s team manager), Neil Macleod (the girl’s manager), Morven (our un-biased secret supporter) and all the parents for their unerring enthusiasm and support over the weekend.
Stage 4 of the youth tour had pretty horrible weather yet again. My start wasn’t too bad and I stayed near the front of the bunch. Thankfully I had no puncture throughout the race, even though I think I hit every pot hole on the course. I stayed in the bunch the whole race. Our race was 10 laps ( I think ) and on the last lap I should of moved up the bunch more to the front, because I couldn't get around people on the hill, which was at the finishing line. By the end of the race I had no brake pads left at all on the front and the metal pad holders were just rubbing on the rim which made slowing down interesting. I finish 17th in stage 4 and 13th in the overall classifications so was quite pleased.
I had really good fun with all the team throughout the youth tour and thanks to Neil for being a great coach and to Morven for sorting all the team kit and cheering us on.