Sunday, 9 June 2013

Junior Men’s National Road Race Championships 2013

A poster designed by one of the local school pupils in Lazonby
Seeing 80 of the best young riders in the UK battle it out for the National Champions jersey today was a great lesson in how grass roots racing is tirelessly supported by volunteers, parents and passionate people who want to ensure that the British talent funnel is well stoked.

As winner - Christopher Lawless - crossed the line on a warm day in Lazonby, near Penrith, I looked around to see around 100 people near the finish line.  Parents who had driven from all parts of the country to see their offspring compete, I spoke to a family from Bristol who had driven six hours to be there.

A blistering pace was set early on, the seven lap course, covering 120KM and around 1400M of climbing was shelling the weaker riders out early and a break away developed quickly with hot race favourite - Tao Geoghegan Hart - sitting back in the main peloton. 

I was lucky to be invited to ride in one of the British Cycling vehicles, where I could hear the race radio commenting that very few of the bunch were willing to work for Hart, so he broke off with a couple of laps to go to join the breakaway group.  

Conditions were warm and the route undulating, so it was tough going, some riders being black flagged as they dropped off the back of the racing group as the race progressed.  The result was decided by a sprint up the final climb, where Lawless crossed the line to claim the National Champions Jersey with four seconds to spare from second place rider - Gabriel Cullaigh.  Geoghan Hart coming in third place, seven seconds behind the race leader. 

Winners take the Podium
Speaking to Geoghegan Hart at race control, he was frustrated that no-one wanted to take up the chase and he said he had to bury himself to get across to the breakaway, which clearly left him depleted for the final sprint.  Unlike most races, here each rider is riding for himself, so there is little teamwork and it's every man for himself. 

In the Driving Seat

Whilst in the car with the race organiser, he spoke of the difficult of putting the event on, having to rely on endless volunteers and people letting him down at short notice.  It takes a lot of commitment to get this event off the ground.

Resources were scarce and they relied on sponsorship to get the event moving.  Major sponsor for the day was new British bike brand Beacon who treated the riders to an exclusive first look of three of their new to launch models.  Stunning bikes, more to come on them.

Summing Up

The whole day was organised really well, on limited budget and resources, race control was a school hall for example.  For the junior mens, it had all the attributes of a senior race.  I was able to get our two neutral support vehicles there, a fleet of British cycling commissaire vehicles were in the peloton aswell as some team cars.  It made for a good convoy for the spectators.  British cycling also provided their race podium and finish tower, which made a good spectacle.

Neutral Service - Sponsored by Brother UK
I was amazed at what quality bikes the riders had.  A real high end line up of hardware, that no doubt their parents and sponsors had invested a small fortune in!

It's obvious that the junior road racing scene needs even more investment at every level, financially and with human resources such as marshalls.  What they currently achieve with what they have is testament to the people who support the scene.  I came away thinking what more could I do to help at a practical level and with more riders coming into the sport, we need as cyclists to support this grass root development of future talent.  If we want another Wiggo on the podium at the Tour de France in the future, then this is where that individual is going to come from.

A thoroughly enjoyable day, with some great people, some great racing and some great insight into how an event like this gets pulled together. The full results can be found here on the British Cycling Website.  To find out more about junior road racing please visit

No comments:

Post a Comment