||04-08-13 05:46 PM
Some of you will remember that earlier in the year I agreed to sponsor a youth racing team. We're well on the way to getting established, and this weekend we took a squad of three teams to our first national-level event, the youth Tour of Scotland. This is a three-day event with four stages, a RR, a crit, an individual TT and a "kermesse race" - short course with a serious climb and some gravel/dirt sections.
So two boys' teams of four riders each, classification "youth A" - riders aged 14 and 15 years. Plus one girls' team of three, classification "youth A and B" - age range 12-15 inclusive. We didn't have a huge amount of hope, because only two of our riders have any real experience at national level, and the field includes some of the very best in Britain; plus Cycling Ireland have sent over their best youth riders.
However, we had a terrific time. Some good results, some bad. Our strongest riders, girl and boy, were both in contention for top six GC finishes until the final race. The girl blew it when crashing out on the kermesse course - she got back on and finished, but her chance was gone - and the boy was right in contention until puncturing late in the race. But we're doing something right as far as teamwork is concerned, because one of our other riders immediately jumped off and gave him his bike to limit the damage. Ended up eleventh out of 70-odd in GC, but hey - it's early days.
This whole thing was a great experience. Great bunch of kids, their enthusiasm is infectious, and they are clearly already a team in their own minds. And the racing was absolutely fabulous. You'd wait a long time to see pro races with half as much entertainment value and unreserved commitment. This is going to be fun, even if from time to time I thought it would be easier to be riding than managing...