The Errigal International Youth Tour took place in Churchill and Letterkenny over the August Bank Holiday weekend and there were 6 Covey Youth’s in attendance with teams taking part from all over the Ireland, the UK and as far afield as South Africa.
The event was made up of 4 stages over 3 days of racing, which included a TT, a Crit and two very tough road races.
The Covey youths all performed very well with some only cycling less than 3 months.
The first race was on Saturday morning with the U13/14 off first (Aaron Doherty, Andrew Currid, Ben Walsh, Declan Maloney and Eoghan McLaughlin). It was 3 laps of a testing route. The lads started well but with a few crashes throughout the course and some of them getting caught out behind the results didn’t fully match their standards. Aaron showed great strength and stayed out of trouble and was our highest finisher in 12th place out of a field of 84 with Declan next in 18th position which was a fantastic performance as he was just recovering from a bad chest infection. Ben, Andrew and Eoghan all had a great race finishing up in a bunch behind. Great racing all round.
Sean Flynn was next out on the same course but he had 5 laps. He started very well and finished strong well inside the top half of the field. Great effort for first day.
Saturday afternoon was the Time Trial which was a 1.6km hill climb. All the U14 lads did brilliant in this and finished well up the field with Andrew Currid having the fastest time of our group of U14’s and holding Leader position on the podium for a time and finished 16th at the end of the stage. Eoghan McLaughlin had the second fastest time of the lads and a brilliant performance. Both Andrew and Eoghan are new to cycling this year and have excelled in training from day 1, both lads have great potential and should reap the rewards next season.
In the U16 race, again Sean Flynn had an outstanding performance finishing in the top 20 and also holding the leader position on the podium for a time.
Stage 3 and the final road race took place on Sunday which was the hardest of all of the stages in the Youth Tour, the Queen Stage if you like with the famous “Keelogues” Category One Climb up to the finish in Churchill, as a cyclist you either fear it or welcome it depending on your climbing ability. Over two hundred youths battled their way up the climb and were cheered on by the hundreds of spectators that lined the sides of the road, it was truly reminiscent of a scene from the recent Tour de France.
The U14 lads had 3 laps of this trying course, starting up front and staying there, all showing great strength and maturity in their cycling throughout and all moved up on the GC placings from day 1, with Aaron finishing in 9th position with Declan and Ben hot on his wheels all finishing within 26 seconds of each other, a proving testament of the hard training the lads put in on hills prior to this event.
Sean had the same course but a very trying 5 laps. Climbing is what Sean excels in and we knew he would love this stage, but unfortunately Sean was suffering from a chest infection which hampered his performance and although finished strong he was not feeling too good.
The final stage of the weekend was the Crit which was fast and furious. This was to be the first Crit for some of our lads. They were nervous from the start but they soon settled in and started racing. Aaron stayed up front throughout with Declan hot on his wheel, but unfortunately things did not go well and Declan and Andrew both suffered crashes, and although were badly shaken up there were no serious injuries.
The U16 race was some show of cycling skill and strength. The boys circled Letterkenny at speeds above 40km/hour which was some spectacle to watch. A very unwell Sean Flynn finished in the bunch with a great race overall.
A great weekend all round each and every youth raced their hearts out and looking forward to the Nationals taking place in Wexford the last weekend in August.
Congratulation to Aaron Doherty who was 2nd Unplaced U13.
Report submitted by Teresa Walsh