Junior Riders do Stratford Proud in North West Youth Tour
Five Stratford Junior riders pinned race numbers to their Stratford jerseys over the bank holiday weekend to compete in the British Cycling National North West Youth Tour in and around Morecambe, Lancashire.
The Tour is a 3 stage event, attracting riders from all over the UK and beyond, designed to test all aspects of a riders ability. It starts with a 2 mile time trial along Morecambe promenade on day 1, followed by a testing hilly circuit on day 2, and finishing with a fast criterium on day 3.
Nathan Edmunds, Blake Richmond-Russell and Benedict Sherriff all competed in the first year of the U10 category, Aidan Sherriff competed in the second year of U12s and Charlie Shalders in the first year of U14s. All riders gained great experience racing in much larger fields than they were used to with 46 boys and girls competing in the U10 races, 76 boys and girls in the U12s and 61 boys in the U14 races.
Stage 1, the time trial was a fast out and back course along the Morecambe promenade with riders setting off at 30 second intervals from a held standing start. This was a new discipline for some riders requiring a motivation to race yourself rather than the rest of the peloton, but everyone performed fantastically with Nathan using his triathlon experience to lead the U10 Stratford boys in 11th place, Nathan said “I lost my gears just before the race, so I was stuck in one gear for the whole time trial. It’s been a great weekend, and I can’t wait to do it again!”
Aidan achieved 15th in U12s.
In U14s, Charlie said “I was pleased with my time trial, I was able to manage my effort well over the stage, missing my target time by just 9 seconds. Although a bit disappointed with my final placing, I realise the competition is extremely strong in U14s.”
Stage 2 was an early start for everyone. It was based around a 2 mile hilly circuit with multiple ascents of a 0.7 mile climb with gradients over 10%. The U10s needed to complete 1.5 laps with 2 climbs where Blake really showed off his climbing skills to achieve 16th place. Blake said, “The races were amazing. I really loved the hilly circuit and even though I started right at the back of the pack, I managed to weave my way through to 16th place. I'm really looking forward to doing it again next year!”
Aidan managed 20th place in U12s after 5 climbs and Charlie came in 50th after 6 challenging climbs.
The U10 boys all met up in Morecambe on Saturday afternoon and compared notes whilst enjoying the beach and the fairground. It was great to see the bond developing between them as they shared this great experience.
The final stage was a fast race around Lancaster University campus, where riders were gridded for the start based on their current general classification. All three races were extremely fast, taking the Stratford riders by surprise as the fields quickly fragmented. As the pace remained high, it made it very difficult to recover positions and move through the fields. In U10s Benedict chased really hard to lead the chasing group of riders home in 7th place. Benedict said “I love this race, and next year I’m going to win it!”
In U12s Aidan managed to recover from a poor grid position to win his group sprint in 16th place, he said “My race was lost on Stage 2 where I lost too much time, giving me a poor grid position for my favourite race, the crit. Not enough hills over the summer holidays! But it’s been a great weekend!”