Young cyclists are up to scratch

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YOUTH circuit racing took place at Victoria Park, Southport, last Saturday with the opening round of the Dolan Series.

Each age category had a scratch race followed by a slightly shorter handicapped race based on the results of the first race. In the U10 category Xavier Brennan (Salt Ayre Cog Set) enjoyed the day out in good conditions to finish towards the back of the group in each race.

Xavier’s older brother, Fabian, was one of four Cog Set riders in the U14 category – Fabian Brennan, John Didsbury, Jonathan Wong and Caitlin Flynn.

In his first race of the season Jonny Wong found it hard going alone between groups, though in the second race he stayed in a group of four to the end, finishing both races in the middle of the pack.

Caitlin was one of six female riders in the same race as the boys. She made her way through both races in small groups finishing a very creditable third girl in the first race and fourth in the handicap.

As in the CDNW round two weeks ago John Didsbury and Fabian Brennan were both very active at the front of the group throughout their first race. Their work paid off with the same finishing positions that they had enjoyed in the CDNW – third for John and first for Fabian.

The handicapping was particularly tough for Fabian in the second race; with other riders set off some distance in front, the main group was started some 25 seconds before Fabian. It took him four laps of individual time trialling to catch the back of the group and recover.

John had continued in the mix at the front just as in the first race. Coming into the last corner Fabian and John were virtually side by side in the second row of riders. As the group opened for the sprint Fabian found a gap and once again crossed the line in first place; John following not far behind picked up an excellent fourth place. These consistent results give Fabian the yellow jersey for next week’s second round, with John lying second overall.

In the U16 category Cog Set’s Matt Flynn was putting into practice the tough lesson he’d had at the CDNW a fortnight earlier. His extra work on cornering on this demanding circuit paid huge dividends as he stayed firmly in the first few riders throughout each race.

Talent Team rider Chris Lawless (Maxgear RT) rode away from the group early on and though one or two tried to follow him it was in vain, with Lawless winning the race almost a lap up.

The battle for second place came down to a sprint for an elite group containing Matt, Jack Sadler (Herbalife/Wheelbase) and other very experienced riders. In a hotly contested sprint Jack edged in front in the last 50 metres to take the place with Matt close behind in an excellent fifth place.

In the handicap Lawless was given the nearly impossible task of almost a full lap’s handicap, and more than a lap over the slower riders. With only 15 laps to chase it proved too much, so it was left to a group of around eight to chase the slower riders down and eventually to challenge for the lead.

Once again Matt played his full role in creating an exciting race and was one of only three riders in the finishing group. Paying a little for his earlier work he finished at the back of this group taking third, just behind two other members of British Cycling’s Talent Team.

Jack took eighth place with Lawless having worked his way through the 29 strong field in 10th place. Matt lies third overall going into the second of three rounds. The Flynns and Brennans will also be tackling a bigger challenge this coming weekend as the National Youth Circuit Race Series opens in Bristol on Sunday.

Also on Saturday there was circuit racing at Salt Ayre with the fourth TLI Criterion. After top four placing in each of the first three weeks Julian Pearson (Teamwallis CHH RT) got the win he wanted in week four. The field was the largest yet and some aggressive riding saw a number of breaks away during the hour + 5 laps on a windy afternoon.

Jonny Knox (Teamwallis CHH RT) was away alone for a while and again in a two-up break but his third break of the day was to his saddle which parted company with his bike and forced him to retire. With his team support gone Julian still kept covering the moves and when it came to a bunch sprint was several lengths clear for a good win.

Last weekend was also a busy one in time trialling with the West Pennine RC SpoCo on a tough hilly 14 mile circuit on Saturday and on Sunday the Border City Wheelers SpoCo over 25 miles on a course that crosses the border into Scotland on some heavy rolling roads.

Saturday’s event saw the top two places taken by twins Simon and Adam Yates with 33:34 and 33:49 respectively with James Gullen (Team Wallis CHH) an excellent third with 33:53. Burton in Kendal’s Calum Nicholson, also riding for Team Wallis, was only a minute behind his team-mate to take seventh place with 35:00.

Sunday’s 25, north of Carlisle, was a success for the promoting club with their own Thomas Walker and Carlo Berton taking the top two places with 59:30 and 1:00:12.

Seventeen-year-old Sam Huddleston (Herbalife/Wheelbase) started his SpoCo campaign off in style with 1:00:14 for third place. Julian Pearson (Team Wallis CHH), with Saturday’s win still in his legs, was tired but pleased with his time of 64:02. Other local’s riding were Duncan Orme ( recording 1:02:28 for 10th place and Nev Pearson (Team Wallis CHH) with 1:06:20 for 20th place.

There is a clash of events this coming weekend with the Capernwray RR and the 62nd Nelson Wheelers Circuit of the Dales both on Sunday morning.

The Capernwray Road Race starting at the Redwell Inn, a counting event in the CDNW Road Race League, is two events run concurrently. The Elite/1/2/3 is over 75 miles and the 3/4 event 56 miles and both have attracted a quality field of about 60 riders.

The Circuit of the Dales, which starts one mile south of Ingleton on the A65 at 8.30am, is one of the most famous time trials in the North.

The course heads from the start via Burton-in-Lonsdale to Greta Bridge where it is straight on to Devils Bridge then up the Lune valley through Casterton to Sedbergh.

From here it is up Garsdale past the Moorcock Inn to Hawes where a sharp climbing right turn takes the riders up Widdale to Newby Head and Ribblehead before finally dropping down to finish 1.5 miles short of Ingleton near White Scar Caves.

This tough race always has a large field with hundreds of spectators around the route and this year is no exception with a near full field of 115.

Finally next week sees the start of evening time trials and criterion racing. The Kent Valley RC’s evening 10s start at Milnthorpe on Wednesday at 6.30pm. The Science-in-Sport Criterions start at 6.30pm on Thursday at Preston Sports Arena but the Vanilla Salt Ayre League doesn’t start until the following Tuesday, April 12.

Lancaster CC and Salt Ayre Cog Set have the first of their evening time trials at the Salt Ayre circuit on Thursday starting at 6.30pm for the 2 mile TT, 6.45pm for the 6 miler and 7pm for the 10 milers. Entries on the night or through Contact Bob Muir on 07734 906598 or for more details.