On Friday the 1st May, the boys took a day off school in order to get to the Isle of Man to participate in the National Youth Circuit Stage Race, held over the bank holiday weekend.
Seventy of the best riders from across the UK are entered in the event, making for a tough weekend, especially for those riders in their first year of racing in this category.
We arrived at Liverpool docks to board the Steam Packet ferry on Friday morning with great weather and arrived on the island mid-afternoon.
The first stage was on Friday evening: an individual time trial (ITT) on Douglas promenade over 1.29km.
Our riders took to the start ramp at 7:46pm and managed the following times & positions:
Halley Woods 1:52, 16th
Dan Gibson 1:55, 39th
Luke Cheetham 1:59, 54th
Lewis Hartley 2:03, 62nd
The winning time in the Youth A category was 1 minute and 46 seconds by Fred Wright of VC Londres.
On Saturday the lads travelled up to Ellerslie for the 36.2km (5 lap) road race that includes a particularly tough climb and very fast descent.
The team woke up to some horrendous weather conditions, with early morning temperatures at only 2 degrees. With the race not due to start until late afternoon everyone was hopeful of some drier spells. Unfortunately, the rain continued to pour all day long!
Owing to the conditions, the race was cut short (to 3 laps) even before the riders took to the line. This was a wise decision considering that many of the junior riders had experienced symptoms of hypothermia in the mornings racing at Peel.
The race started fast with the bunch splitting immediately due to the climb and the wind. The race was consistently fast throughout all the uphill and downhill sections with the leading riders trying to put as much time into the others as they could.
By the time the lead group began the climb for the fourth time, there was only a handful of contenders left who battled it out for the podium positions. It was the notorious Daniel Tullett who managed to take the stage win, ahead of Connor Davies and Fred Wright.
Our riders managed to complete the race safely, further down the field and were just grateful to cross the line and get back to the race HQ for hot drinks and warm clothes.
On Sunday, the 3rd and final stage of this year’s tour took place on the promenade at Ramsey.
Unfortunately Lewis was forced to take a decision to retire before the stage due to his persistent knee discomfort. However on a more positive note the rain cleared up and the sun came out to shine by the time the race started in the late afternoon.
The course at Ramsey is around 2km straight up and down the prom. However it’s made difficult by a strong headwind on the way back in and tight hairpin bends at each end.
The race started at a frantic pace and our riders suffered an early set back at the first bend as they got caught up in a group of around 20 riders who were slowed up by a fallen rider. Although the team chased back on and re-joined the main bunch, they suffered from their early effort and would later fall off the back as the riders slowed up into each hairpin bend and smashed their way out in single file.
Halley finished the race 45th with Luke and Dan just a little further back. Our riders were left to reflect on a race that was much harder for them than it needed to be due to early positioning.
The stage was won by Fred Wright of VC Londres who also narrowly snatched GC victory from Dan Tullett and Rhys Briton.