Thanks to all of my sponsors so please be sure to check out the sponsors page! Thanks to the Junior tour for organizing a great event as well.
Stage 1-A flat individual time trial, 4 miles long with a nasty 25 second kick in it. Being road bikes only the TT was a fair test in a way to see who the stronger riders were in the race as many I had heard of but not raced. In the end I placed 5th, which considering my weight and style of riding I was very pleased with being 9 seconds down on the winner who posted a very respectable 8:33 in tough crosswind conditions (also causing many on 80mm wheels to get blown around rather a lot).
Stage 2-72 miles long and the first proper road stage, some tough drags some just about big ring-able made the race hard for many. Breaks with fresh legs tried their luck throughout the stage, being one of the flatter stages I knew the yellow jerseys team of Hot Tubes would want to try to defend that jersey especially with 9 men, which was the reason I sat in all day and basically did nothing but save my legs. The final man up the road was caught with 3km to go and some lead outs started, in the end I rolled in 23rd.
Stage 3-At 10km in my team mate Matt Cox got into the to be race long breakaway, at 35km in with a group of 8 we joined the 14 man group to have a huge breakaway of 22, after sitting on the bridging group from 16km to 24km in the final 11km chase I helped get across. We had a gap of 3 mins 30, which was insane, then we were hearing 4 minutes, 4:30 then 6 minutes, at that point we were a little confused but working like mad. 2km later we were stopped after being told the bunch had gone the wrong way, 30 mins later we started again with a 4 min gap, the gap before they went wrong and many legs already tired in the group it went down to 16 men as we re-started on an 8 min climb, not mega steep but being right on the coast the wind also made it hard, from here on knowing I was highest on gc in the group me and my team mate Matt worked hard physically as well as getting the others to keep going through, ever since the bottom of the next descent many were thinking about the stage. In the last 5km I sat on the back to make sure nobody went away, but with 2km to go I was at the front and Robert O’Leary attacked who I didnt expect to be 10 seconds down on me on GC, my team mate Matt chased him down to 7 seconds, I should have also chased but my mind was overwhelmed and not used to dealing with such a situation like that, I froze and sat on others in case they tried to attack. So I had moved into yellow. 8th on the stage…
Stage 4- Stage 4 was a very repetitive stage, my team mate Etienne went off up the road to help take pressure of me so I thought, this didn’t work at all if I’m honest, people close to me on GC kept attacking and there were 10 big threats to me and 4 of which were confident to try to attack me, with no help from my team (if I’m honest, not that I expected loads but a little would helped and prevented) It was hard, chasing down moves instantly was my only option, in one of the crosswinds I stuck it in the gutter in the hope to split the race, Instead they lost my wheel and I ended up riding away sadly. My team mate Matt hugely redeemed himself in the final 22km after sitting on the front for the final section of the race, showing his strength and crazy good stamina as a first year, averaging 28.8mph in the cross tailwind along the lumpy coastal road it was quite some effort and one I’ll respect him for forever, not many first years could do that for even 10 minutes..he did 30 minutes. Surprisingly nobody attacked in the last 30 mins of the race, stress levels decreased and I had people saying your team mate is so so strong! Yellow jersey was still on my shoulders after stage 4. 18th on this stage.
Stage 5-A real team effort, after talking tactics the night before the goals were clear on this stage. Sadly my team mate crashed out 5km into the race at over 30mph and snapped his bike, his gc hopes were gone so sadly he had to ride in on some neutral spare. My team mate Jamie was very poorly so I didn’t expect anything from him, although he surprised me and battled through chasing some threats. Next Etienne of course helped bring back some other breaks and chase down the bigger threats as well. Coming into the final 10 minute climb before Gallows hill Joe Lineham also gave a huge turn into the bottom of this one, bringing a two minute break back to 1 minute in his time on the front. Over the top of this climb with 2 mins to go I attacked and looked back over the top to see only 2 riders, Etienne and Robert O’leary. This move was brought back so until gallows I sat in. Gallows came sooner than I thought, I was too far back taking gels, luckily on the flatter part I rode up and my team mate Etienne gave me the wheel he was sat on allowing me into 3rd. Colton Brookshires team (Specialized) went flat out on the front, Robert O’leary tried to go around with 30 seconds to go, I followed his wheel whilst Brookshire followed mine and I sprinted around O’leary in the final 10 seconds to clinch the win from Brookshire!
(Small image due to Image graphic,
but an amazing win up Gallows Hill!)
Stage 6 and overall-Stage 6 was a short Kermesse of 50 miles with a 1 minute steep bing ring effort, It was very fast but we did the exact same as stage 5. A break did get up the road with 4 riders, sadly one got dropped another crashed with 1km to go. There was a chase from the green jerseys team (Specialized) of which in this race is most consistent rider of positions in the top 20 for each stage, being Colton Brookshire who took the bunch sprint for 3rd with my team mate Etienne taking 5th only 8 seconds back on the winners who had 1 minute with 4km to go, of course cat and mouse came into play against a very hard chase. Gage Hecht of Hot tubes took an amazing win from Alexis Roche (NRPT).
This meant I had won the Junior Tour of Ireland, My biggest win yet this season!