This weekend saw the five riders of the U16 team at the North West Youth Tour – a 5-stage race based around Preston, Lancaster and Blackpool. Over 80 riders from across the country competed in close competitive racing at the highest levels.
The first stage on Day 1 was a 1 mile time trial, completed in just over 2 minutes from a standing start – that’s 30mph to the rest of us – with Jack Escritt finishing with the 6th fastest time. This was followed by a 25 mile circuit race. All the Velocity riders rode well with the team putting in some strong attacks before the bunch sprint, with Matt Walls taking a very good 4th and the team finishing the day in 1st place.
Day 2 saw two stages at the Salt Ayre circuit just outside of Lancaster. Stage 1 saw a very close race run at an average of 28mph over the 20 miles with a very big bunch sprint to finish. The objective for the team here in this first race of the day being to stay out of trouble, and concluded with all the Velocity riders finishing at the front of the main bunch.
The second race of the day continued with a similar pattern, with the Velocity riders prominent throughout at the front of the race, and taking a very impressive 1, 2, 3 in the half way sprint.
So, Day 2 ended in Lancaster with 3 Velocity riders in the top 15 of the GC. Not to be outdone on this sunny bank holiday weekend, Andy Leigh and Will Thomas where competing in the Batley Road Race in Yorkshire with Andy taking a great win. After being in the break for much of the race, he made a solo attack in the last lap to win, with Will finishing 2nd leading in then chasing bunch.
Day 3 at Blackpool was far from a sunny affair, with heavy rain and strong winds making for atrocious conditions for 28 laps and 40 miles of racing. On this testing circuit that meant 28 times up the short but steep hairpin, cobbled climb. Before long it became a war of attrition with a group of 15 riders, including 4 Velocity riders, dishing out the pain to the rest of the peleton.
With one rider away it came down to a bunch sprint with all our riders coming home safely and matching last year’s performance, by taking the coveted team prize against the best riders in the UK for the second year in succession. This now means the team has taken first place in the team competition in two of the three youth tours this season, only marginally losing out to a strong national side from Ireland in the Youth Tour of Scotland last month.
A special mention for Jack who had us all very worried after he suffered from hypothermia on completing the race, but we are glad to report he is back to himself and looking forward to next weekend’s racing.
Next weekend takes the team in different directions with road racing in Belgium and Buxton – and track racing in the North and the Midlands omnium qualification rounds.