Last weekend the club provided support for our youth team to take part in the Youth Tour of Scotland. The team worked fantastically well together and managed to take 2nd overall up against far bigger teams. Yorkshire won and Wales were 3rd. They were also 2nd in the team time trial. There were some great individual performances as well-Mathew Kingston had a remarkable weekend winning stage 3, taking the green points jersey and finishing 2nd in the general classification. Daniel Barnes was 3rd on Stage 4 . Some other great performances as well from Emile Alexander and Hayden Norris. Thanks also to Simon Alexander and Michael Norris who drove the team up to Scotland and looked after them over the long weekend.
Here are their race reports
Daniel Barnes Report
This weekend was the Youth Tour of Scotland and we were going into the race with high aims after coming 3rd last year so we were hoping to make a big impact on the race. There were 20 boys teams from around the country, mostly regionally selected teams so the standard was going to be very high.
On Friday we arrived and recce’d stages 1 and 4 which were the same as last year and stage one was hilly and an extremely tough course. In the 60km race we were all in the main bunch until Matt got away and we all finished strongly in the bunch which had become much smaller by the end of the race. I was sitting in 26th on GC but effectively joint 8th because of no time gaps in the bunch.
Stage 2 was the team time trial which I led off the start and we were going smoothly until I dropped off with about 2 minutes to go. I kept pushing knowing that it would affect my GC and ended up doing a good time and only losing 13 seconds to the team which placed us 2nd on the stage.
Stage 3 was on the same day using the same circuit as the time trial. The course was a flat 7km loop which meant positioning was crucial, I followed the race plan which was to attack repetitively to tire out Yorkshire who were the leading team and make them do all of the chasing and then when Matt attacked they were very tired and he forced a gap which meant he took a very impressive stage win and we also won the stage in the team competition. I was now in 12th on GC after finishing in 16th on the stage, in the bunch.
Stage 4 was a shorter race at 40km, it was 16 laps of a tight circuit with gravely corners, a descent and a steep hill to finish off the lap. We went into the race with the same attacking race plan which again worked because on my 3rd attack of the race on the 4th lap I managed to quickly get a big gap, after another 2 laps of me pushing hard 3 other riders managed to bridge the gap to me and we were working really well together. With 1 lap to go we had a gap of 1 and a half minutes which we knew was plenty and at this point I was thinking how I could move up GC and attempt to take a possible stage win. I gave it everything on the final lap up the hill which was enough for 3rd. I’m really happy with this final stage because it boosted me to 6th in the overall GC which I wasn’t expecting and we also finished 2nd on the overall team classification.
It was such a brilliant experience being a part of a great team in such a big event and being able to finish off with an individual 3rd in the final stage. A huge thank you to Lichfield CCC for supporting us in this incredible opportunity and Simon Alexander and Michael Norris for taking us and organising it all.
Hayden Norris Report
As a youth cyclist, getting the chance to race at the Youth tour of Scotland is a great opportunity. I have been extremely lucky to have been supported by Lichfield CCC, enabling me to take part at the 2018 event alongside clubmates Emile Alexander, Daniel Barnes and Matthew Kingston. The event offers an excellent experience of fast and tactical stage racing on closed roads, a great atmosphere and staying with the rest of the team and other competitors for the weekend.
The race consisted of four stages;
Stage 1- A hilly stage based around the picturesque village of Forteviot, a couple of miles down the road from Strathallan school, the race HQ and accommodation for the event. The stage consisted of 9 laps of the circuit totalling 60km. The pace was fast and a strong breakaway group of 6 riders quickly established themselves. At first the gap hovered around 30 seconds before the main bunch’s chase fell apart and the gap ballooned roughly to 2 minutes. My legs felt good and I was able to place several attacks throughout the stage which helped to keep the pace high and finished 16th on the stage with equal time as 8th in the General Classification.
Stage 2– A 6.9km Team Time Trial starting and finishing in the village of St. David. We set off second last, as we were second in the team competition, and averaged just over 30mph to complete the course in 8:34, 4 seconds shy of the eventual winning time of 8:30, cementing us at 2nd in the team competition as well as improving our GC positions. I was happy to now be in 6th position overall.
Stage 3– Another race at the St. David course in the afternoon. The race consisted of 9 laps, totalling 62km. For me the previous 2 stages’ exploits began to show. This didn’t stop me from putting in my best effort and I was pleased to finish in the main group.
Stage 4– Stage 4 was a 16 lap Kermesse around the Strathallan campus, each lap including a sapping climb. Disaster almost struck on the second lap when a crash unfolded in front of me which I was fortunate to narrowly miss, however this distanced me from the bunch. Over the next few laps I had the strength to chase back on in a small group and I stayed in the main bunch for the remainder of the stage. I finished 12th on the overall General classification, a result that I am thoroughly pleased with. The experience of riding as part of a team and being involved in some really fast, exciting racing has been brilliant. I would like to thank Simon and Michael for taking us, Lichfield CCC for supporting us and Scottish Cycling for organising such an amazing event.
Matthew Kingston Report
I went into the tour hoping to win the team prize; I didn’t have any individual expectations. On Friday we recced stages 1 and 4 and I was taking my experience from last year’s tour into this one.
Day 1: Stage 1 – 60km long circuit road race
I was staying at the front of the bunch for the first two laps then, with three laps gone out of nine, I attacked with two Yorkshire lads. I knew these were the strongest team so I had to go with them. Then two more joined us about half a lap later, one being from Yorkshire. We got a good gap and worked well with each other. With two laps to go, one of the Yorkshire lads attacked up one of the hills, which I had to chase, and we subsequently dropped two other riders. This left me with three Yorkshire lads. They counter attacked me for two laps and, on the final hill before the finish, one attacked, then the other two bridged and I got cramp. In the end I finished fourth and 20 seconds behind the winner. This was a good stage for me but left the team over 4 minutes down behind Yorkshire.
Day 2: Stage 2 – 6.9km Team Time Trial
We had practised our TTT in training, so we knew which order we should go in. we held a good pace for the whole time. However we were second behind Yorkshire by four seconds.
Day 2: Stage 3 – 62km long circuit road race
I went into this after the TTT expecting to stay in the bunch to save my legs for Stage 4. However, I went for the sprints on laps two and three out of nine, which gained me bonus seconds and points in the sprint classification. Then, with three laps to go, I attacked with a rider from Yorkshire who was sitting in third on GC and one other rider. We got a 40 second lead with one lap to go, so I started doing smaller turns on the front. Then, coming into the sprint, I waited for one of the others to open the sprint. I got straight into his slipstream and won by about one bike length. This was my best victory to date. I was now second on GC, 17 seconds off the lead. We also won the Team Stage.
Day 3: Stage 4 – 41km short circuit Kermesse race
The plan going into this stage was for me to go for the sprints and then try to attack later on. However my legs felt terrible from Stage 3, so I didn’t win the sprints. I tried one attack, however I was brought back straightaway. Dan Barnes was in the break and finished third, so it was still a successful day. I finished the race in 16th and, in the final classification, I retained the green points jersey and second place on GC.
Overall this was an amazing tour for me and I exceeded my expectations, achieving second overall, the sprint jersey, second in the team competition and winning a stage.
Emile Alexander Report
Friday 6th April; we arrived at Strathallan School at around 2.30 and rode the course getting the racers lines in our heads and checking out the potholes. My legs felt sore from the six hour journey up so I made sure to spin a lot. We then also practiced stage 4 as it was right next to the school where we were staying with the other riders.
Saturday 7th April; stage 1. This was an undulating course lasting 60km with a fast descent down to the finish. There was no gridding and I found this out the hard way as I got off the rollers slightly later than usual. When the race set off I found it hard to move up and was caught behind a rider slipping out as I followed his line down the descent, this led to me having to unclip and losing a lot of time. Once I caught back on there were four Yorkshire riders off the front, so me and Dan decided to try and pull them back. We were unable to, and no one else within the bunch was working. We lost almost two minutes to four Yorkshire riders which meant the team prize was gone. Matt managed to get in the break though and came 4th. I managed 15th in the bunch sprint and 19th on the stage. Sunday 8h April; stage 2. Team time trial. We recce’d the course when we arrived and it was around 7km long. There were a few dodgy corners that we agreed to take slightly slower than usual. We were due to set off at 11.25, 2 minutes in front of the last team to set off – Yorkshire. We went through really well, carrying the speed and communicating well. With aabout 2 km to go, Dan dropped off and we were suddenly in the last straight with no mistakes. We pushed on really hard and the remaining three off us finished abreast, to get same time. 2nd. To make it worse, we lost to Yorkshire by a tight margin of four seconds. I moved up to 7th on GC with Hayden on the same time as me in 6th and Dan in 12th and Matt still in 4th.
Sunday 8th April; stage 3. This was on the same course as the time trial. There were two sprints on the 2nd and 3rd laps. I was away on the 2nd lap and Matt had just broke off the front and had bridged to me for the extra seconds. He got three points and I got two, which pushed me to 6th on GC. I was aiming for the KOM jersey so I attacked on the 5th and 7th lap and got maximum points which pushed me up to second on the KOM classification, 2 points behind Fin Pickering from Yorkshire. We all followed the team tactics and kept attacking which tired out Yorkshire until eventually Matt got away and managed to win the stage which was great as it pushed him to second on GC.
Monday 9th April; stage 4. This was a kermess stage with very narrow roads and corners full of gravel. The finish was up a very short but steep hill. I was gridded on the first row which was great as there was a split very soon with about 20 riders. It soon regrouped though and slowed which was good for me as I attacked on the hill and got a gap for the KOM jersey but Fin was right behind me which means we both got 3 and 2 points so we were now 1 point apart. A group of four then got away including Dan and he finished 3rd . Will Corkhill from the Isle of Man mopped up all the remaining KOM points and ended winning the jersey and the stage whilst I rolled in at 17th. We came 2nd on the team and I came 3rd on the King of the mountains classification. I was disappointed with my ride but ultimately learnt a lot. Thank you to Lichfield CCC for supporting the team and to Michael and Simon for taking us and providing support and guidance through each day.