Junior Tour of Ireland (Giant-Halo) | Le Col Cycling
On Monday the 10th of July four team mates and I, along with our team manager, Peter Georgi, travelled to Ireland to race the Junior Tour of Ireland.
The Junior Tour of Ireland is a six day, six stage race. This year it was its 35th event. Former winners included Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard, so it was a prestigious event.
After a long day spent travelling we arrived at the race HQ Hotel in Ennis, where all teams were being accommodated.
Day 1 6.8km ITT
It was a fairly easy point to point rolling TT and as the first rider was off at 7pm we had all day to recce the course.
I headed down to the TT at about 7pm as my start time was 7:29pm. I warmed up on the rollers and then set off. I had a good ride. After looking at my data it shows I rode well and always had an increasing trend. The results came out and I had got 6th!! I was just 10 seconds behind the top rider and half a second behind team mate, Charlie Meredith. I had done far better than expected. No TT bikes or disc wheels were allowed so everyone had to use their standard road bike. Just shows what I can do when there is a level ‘playing field’.
Day 2 118km road race ‘sprint stage’
It was a rolling stage but with a long 20km run into the finish on a wide main road. A few moves went but nothing really stuck. Hot Tubes Team started to chase a lone break at about 30km to go. We caught him at about 15km to go. The race then was very fast until the finish. I finished really far down the bunch but I was playing it safe. There was no change at the top of the GC so Charlie retained his 5th position and I kept my 6th.
Day 3 103km road race
Day 3 was a more rolling course with a fairly large 10min climb in it. I got into the big break of the day which took place just after 15mins of the race being de neutralised. We got let away fairly easily and worked quite well. It was a group of about 10 or so and then a few more riders including my team mate Charlie bridged across to us. We got a gap of just under 4mins but then the bunch were sent the wrong way through a village so the race had to be stopped and restarted with the same time gaps. The race was started at the bottom of the big KOM with the break having a 3min 45second advantage. We kept the pace fairly high up the climb and over it. We managed to increase our advantage to 4mins. The riders started to become less willing to work so it ended up with only about 5 of us working. This was really annoying but we had to deal with it. A late attack saw an Irish rider get about 7 seconds and win the stage. Charlie rode into yellow and I rode into white jersey for the leading first year rider as none of the top four riders in GC had been in the break.
Day 4 110km hilly coastal stage.
The stage got off to a bit of a bad start as I was quite far back and only started to get towards the front on the first descent after the first climb. Then about a km before the second climb I was 3rd wheel and got shoved into the bushes as the rider ahead of me failed to notice me there even though I was shouting at him not to move as he drifted over. When I got back up I thought it was race over as my rear mech had been shoved into the wheel. Peter Georgi our team manager and mechanic came over and yanked the derailleur free and the bike was ride-able again. I got a tow back on from the car but it was a hard tow as it was up a hill so the cars effect is smaller so more effort has to be put in. I got to the bunch just as it started a small decent. I worked very hard to get into the bunch again. I was then back and forth between our car and team mates to advise of the situation up the road as Etienne was in a breakaway. We got to the last climb of the day and I was struggling up it and got dropped at the steepest part. I then chased hard for about 10mins and made contact with the convoy and made my way up it to the bunch, I then immediately started to make my way up to the front to help my team mate Charlie. I tried to keep the gap to the break the same as there were some strong riders in it so if they had a smaller gap the day after might be a little easier for them and harder for us. Etienne came 2nd on the stage and I rolled in with the bunch. The time gaps to today’s break were smaller than those on stage 3, so I had managed to retain the white jersey, and Charlie his leaders jersey. We also moved into the top team position. I was extremely pleased with my racing so far as today I was entering new territory – racing three long stages back to back. I had coped well. From here the race will get harder.
Day 5 102km Queen stage.
Today was where I could almost secure the white jersey. I had two jobs to do, try to keep my white jersey and to try and look after my team mate Charlie who was in yellow. Very soon after the race was de neutralised there was a big crash and I ended up getting brought down in it. I got up looked at my bike and saw that one of the seat stays was broken. I thought it was race over. I was fortunate that the support team succeeded in finding a spare bike off a car in the convoy – (my team didn’t have a spare bike). At this point the race was sort of over for me as the bunch were well up the road. I tried being paced back on behind a car but it wasn’t enough. I was too far back and they had to go to look after Charlie. I ended up riding about 60km on my own and 40km with one other rider. Charlie hadn’t got much support within the bunch as Jamie had dropped back to wait for me. I hadn’t realised this until the end of the stage, I rolled in at about 45mins down losing white and plummeting down the overall standings! I was gutted, but pleased that I could borrow the loaned bike for the final stage.
Day 6 78km Kermesse.
The final day was a little kinder to us as it was only a 78km kermesse. Seven laps of a 10km circuit following an eight km route to the circuit. With Charlie our only protected rider everyone was in for him to win. We all had the numbers of all those GC contenders who were within 1 min of Charlie on GC, taped to our stems, and under no circumstance were these riders allowed to get away. We had lost one rider overnight Jamie with a stomach bug. Midrace a break of about four got away but as they were all no threat we didn’t have to worry about them, we just had to keep an eye on the riders close on GC. With Charlie defending just a three second lead, and with half a dozen riders within a minute there would be plenty of work to do. As expected the peloton was very active with lots of riders and teams attempting to improve their GC position. We worked well as a team, Etienne had to briefly shadow an Irish national team rider up the road before the peloton reeled them in. I was working hard at the front ensuring none of the attacks succeeded. With just half a lap to go I had no more to give, I had fulfilled my domestique role, and very shortly afterwards Charlie was finishing safely in the bunch having lost no time. Well done Charlie, great feeling of team satisfaction.
It was a great event. A great opportunity. I was really pleased to have worn the white jersey, made a big contribution to defending the Yellow jersey. I gained loads of new experiences eg having to chase back through the convoy, having to drop back to the team car for drinks, food and information (there were no feed zones). I survived a six day race, and had an awesome TT. Gaining more confidence along the way.
A big thank-you to the organisers, Scott bikes the race sponsors, Giant CC Halo Films club and our sponsors for their financial support for the trip and to Peter Georgi taking us and Michael from Wexford Wheelers for providing us with a team car which was needed!
Now need to sort out a replacement race bike!