At the beginning of the week the papers were talking about snow and gales battering the Isle of Man, but the opening prologue title trial at the Sleepwell Hotels Isle of Man Junior Tour was held at the end of a glorious day, albeit with a nip in the air from a stiff North Easterly breeze as the British Cycling Youth Circuit Series continued.
Even given the short 1.6km course, the times were very close together with just eight seconds separating the top 30. The first rider off, Tom England set the pace with a 1:49 which would leave him 26th but tied on time with the riders in 20th to 29th places.
His lead didn’t last very long, though. Second starter Ethan Hayter of VC Londres stormed round in 1:45 to take over for the top until Revolution track star Joe Holt shaved another three seconds off with 63 riders still to go.
Matthew Walls of Velocity Globalbike took over third spot with 52 riders still to go – only to lose it a dozen or so riders later as Oliver Peckover of Sherwood Pines Cycles SRAM RT shaved a second off Walls’ time to slot in behind Hayter.
RST Racing team mates Joseph Fry, Joey Walker and Manxman Nathan Draper set identical times – 1:46 – to take sixth, seventh and ninth places at the end, but it was ‘lucky 13’ for Marcus Burnett of Corley Cycles-Drops RT who was the only rider in the second half to make it in to the top three – just pipping Hayter by fractions to finish on the same time – three seconds adrift of Holt.
Speaking to British Cycling after the time trial, Holt conceded that his start number may have been an advantage with the wind picking up and hampering some of his rivals. Nonetheless, it was a deceptively trick course that caught a few people out.
“It's kind of a weird prologue really,” he said. “I’ve ridden it for the past two years now and have found it pretty tricky to find the right line - but I went down there this afternoon and rode the bend a lot of times taking different lines at different speeds.
“It's one of those corners where you have to get on the brakes late and start to corner late to clip the apex. I think I got a pretty good line through there and got on the pedals as soon as possible to get back up to speed!”
With his track background, the prologue was exactly the sort of effort at which he excels, but the rest of the weekend is very different.
“Definitely - it's a perfect distance for me I think,” he added. “But it's so short that it doesn't sort out the GC. It's going be a tough weekend for me now, if I’m honest. I’m not expecting to keep the jersey tomorrow - there's a lot of teams here with a few riders and I have one team mate - Will Roberts - but I won't put any pressure on him to help me out!
So we shall see what happens tomorrow and Sunday but I think tomorrow I have a long day ahead of me!”
1 Joe Holt (County Cycles Racing Team) 1:42
2 Marcus Burnett (Corley Cycles - Drops RT) at 3sec
3 Ethan Hayter (VC Londres)
4 Oliver Peckover (Sherwood Pines Cycles SRAM RT) all same time
5 Matthew Walls (Velocity Globalbike) at 4sec
6 Joseph Fry (RST Racing Team)
7 Joey Walker (RST Racing Team)
8 Robert Scott (VCUK PH-MAS Junior Cycling Team)
9 Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team)
10 Sebastian Dickens (Giant Cycling Club - Halo Films) at st