The Welsh Cycling Wiggle Project 2018 youth teams competed at the North West International Youth Tour 2013 over the bank holiday weekend, returning to Wales with stage wins and jerseys.
Part of the National Youth Series, the three day, five stage race visited three North West locations of Preston, Lancaster and Blackpool with tough competition of over 400 riders competing across all youth categories.
Megan Chard competing in the North West Youth Tour for Welsh Cycling Wiggle Project 2018
The Welsh Cycling Wiggle Project 2018 Youth A boys consisted of Joe Holt (County Cycles), Alex Harvey (Marsh Tracks Race Team), Nicholas Jones (Towy Riders) and Harry Lock (Cardiff Ajax). The Youth A girls were made up of Ffion James (Abergavenny RC), Megan Barker (Cardiff Ajax) and Megan Chard (Bush Healthcare CRT). Over the course of the weekend the riders worked well as a team, and had developed and improved as bike riders since the Isle of Man Youth Tour. The first stage, a time trial on the Preston circuit, gave the riders prologue experience ahead of the European Youth Olympics in July.
Mark Cavendish held the Youth rider time trial lap record of 2.04 since 2002. However, Wales’ Joe Holt shaved a whole second off Cav’s record with 2.03. He then went on to with the Preston circuit stage later in the afternoon, riding in the leaders’ jersey for Sunday’s stage in Lancaster. The Youth A girls also began with the time trial stage, with Ffion James finishing just inside the top ten at 2.22 just one second ahead of teammates Megan Chard and Megan Barker.
On Sunday, the Welsh Cycling Wiggle Project 2018 boys team worked hard during the race, to allow Holt to maintain the lead in the Youth A category. The team were successful, and Holt raced at the front and covered attacks to stretch his lead to 15 seconds going into the final stage on Monday on the Blackpool Promenade. The Welsh Cycling Wiggle Project 2018 girls worked together as a team and finished in the main bunch on both the Lancaster stages, helping their position in the team competition.
Traditional Bank Holiday weather returned for the final stage in Blackpool, with waves crashing over the sea wall. Joe Holt was looking to secure overall general classification in what was to be a tough stage. Time bonuses in the final stage meant Holt’s position was not safe. With four laps to go, a single rider was off the front and had 22 seconds on the bunch, making a final effort to clinch the jersey from Holt. Realising the danger Holt committed himself to the chase, finishing mid-bunch in the final gallop for the line. After a few agonising moments it was confirmed that Joe Holt had clinched the overall win by just one second. There was success for the Welsh Cycling Wiggle Project 2018 girls on the final, and toughest stage of the Tour. In the gruelling conditions, Megan Chard put in an impressive ride and made the podium coming in third place. The team of three girls also finished in third in the team competition over the weekend.
Joe Holt in the New Charter Leaders Jersey for Welsh Cycling Wiggle Project 2018
Alex Greenfield, Team Manager at the North West International Youth Tour, was impressed by the performance of the young riders, “The team got off to a good start on Saturday with Joe’s ride in the time trial which boosted the team morale. The weather conditions for the final stage in Blackpool were horrendous, but Joe managed to secure the overall win and Megan Chard also rode really well to get on to the podium in Blackpool. All members of the team rode well together over the weekend and you can see how riders have progressed since the Isle of Man Youth Tour.
There was a strong Welsh contingent competing across all of the youth categories for their own clubs and teams, with many notable results. There was an all Welsh top five in the Youth B girls, which bodes well for the future.”
Welsh Cycling extends its thanks to the organising team at the North West International Youth Tour for hosting a great weekend of youth cycle racing.
Full event report and images from British Cycling are available here.