Abergavenny Criteriums - Youth Races Report
Report: David James
Pictures: Michael Tarling
For the fourth consecutive year youth racing preceded the Elite Circuit Race in Abergavenny last Friday evening. The youth races are becoming an important feature of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling and this year there were competitors from as far afield as Limerick, Stirling and Wakefield amongst the 115 youngsters who took part.
First race off was the Under 10s and Under 8s and this always seems to get the big enthusiastic crowds excited and very vocal in their support. After a close, race long tussle Owain Roberts (Towy Riders) got the better of Kieran Morris (Mid Shropshire Wheelers) in the finishing straight to win the Under 10 boys, with Abergavenny RC rider Huw Higgins-Worrall a fine third. In the Under 10 girls Lauren Booth (Chippenham Wheelers) finished an excellent first, just ahead of Elena Shaw (Maindy Flyers) in second and Elynor Backstedt (Maindy Flyers) third. In the Under 8 boys Joshua Tarling (Towy Riders) finished a convincing first ahead of Bevan and Aryton Smith (both Maindy Flyers) who finished second and third respectively. In the Under 8 girls, Rosie Finucane (Towy Riders) finished an easy winner ahead of Zoe Backstedt (Maindy Flyers) in second and Evelyn Higgins- Worrall (Abergavenny RC) who matched her older brother by finishing third. Unfortunately for Elynor and Zoe Backstedt, dad Magnus didn't manage to make it to Abergavenny to see their performances as he was off commentating on some race in France!
The Under 12s race attracted 26 starters with almost as many girls as there were boys. Emulating his victory of the previous year in an even more impressive performance was Tomos Owens (Mid Shropshire
Wheelers) who rode away from the rest of the field. Despite travelling the country far and wide to race, this is Tomos's favourite circuit in the UK and it is easy to see why.
It will be very interesting to see how he copes with moving up into the Under 16s and 14s race next year. Second and third boy finishers were Rhys Britton and Samuel Tillett both of Newport Velo. Equally impressive in the Under 12 girls was Jessica Roberts (Towy Riders) who finished second in the race behind Tomos. Jessica was initially pushed by Megan James (Abergavenny RC) before Megan made a mistake on one of the tight corners causing her to fall off and loose her chain.
Despite this mishap Megan managed to remain calm (although her face told a different story) and got back to finish second girl just ahead of Bethany Maunders (Maindy Flyers) who pipped Elizabeth Bennett (Cardiff Jif) and Emily Tillett (Newport Velo) in the sprint for the line.
45 boys and girls started the combined Under 16 and Under 14 race, with the Under 14s and all the girls starting 10 seconds behind the Under 16 boys. The three previous winners of the Under 16 boys have been Sam Harrison, Owain Doull, and Joe Fox, so there was obviously a very keen start line to try and get their name on the victors list of this event, which continues to grow in reputation. Zachery May (Cardiff Jif) was keen to make up for his disappointment in missing out on selection to ride for Wales in the Inter-Area Road Championships and was first to show his hand. Zach was quickly joined by Danny Fox (Solihull CC) who despite being a first year Under 16 was looking to emulate his older brother's victory the previous year and Scott Davies (TRCC), another who had been pushing for selection to ride for Wales in the Inter-Area's.
With a lap to go the three riders were clear of the chasers and it was anyone's guess who would get to the finish line first. When the whistle went to indicate the riders were coming into the home straight for the last time it was Zachery May who had got the jump on the other two and finished a few bike lengths ahead of Danny Fox who just beat Scott Davies into third. In the Under 14 boys there were three stand out riders who all pulled out gaps on the rest of the field, but it was Joe Holt (Bynea CC) who rode clear to victory and managed to make his way through the field to finish a fantastic 8th amongst the Under 16s.
A clear second with a very strong ride was Ashley Hutchinson (V.C. St. Raphael) who for a long time had been in a close battle with Nicholas Jones (Towy Riders), but over the last few laps managed to pull away to leave Nicholas in third. The girls race was a combined Under 16 and Under 14 race, but the convincing winner was Ffion James (Abergavenny RC) who used her mountain bike cornering skills to good effect and finished 6th in the Under 14 boys. The remainder of the girls were having a close fought race but it was Molly Maunders (Maindy Flyers) who finished second, just getting the better of Katie Metalli (BCDS) in third.
Each of the top three finishers were then presented with their prizes on the British Cycling podium by Becky James. Luckily for some of the Welsh riders Becky was there give Hugh Porter inside knowledge on the pronunciation of some of their Welsh names!
A big thanks goes to Bill Owen for organising the Elite Criteriums with the support of Get Connected as it gives the youth riders a fantastic opportunity to ride on such a great circuit in front of such big crowds. Thanks also to Hugh Porter for the great commentary, Becky James for presenting the prizes and Gateway Cycles and Endura for gifting additional prizes for the winners of each race.