WoSCA at the Errigal Youth Tour 2014

Tuesday, 12th August, 2014

The West of Scotland Cycling Association is grateful for the support of the Braveheart fund, which enabled us to take youth teams to the Errigal Youth tour for the 3rd year in a row. Eight riders selected from Johnstone Jets and Glasgow Riderz represented WoSCA in an international field of over 250 riders.

Errigal is different to the normal diet of youth racing in Scotland, as it offers road racing on open, rolling and hilly roads. Add in some of Ireland’s “liquid sunshine” (or heavy rain as we know it in the west of Scotland) and you have a fantastic environment for bike racing.

Here’s a wee taste of the racing http://youtu.be/pyIigeNHSFc

The following accounts are our riders own personal blogs of their stage racing experience. We hope you enjoy reading them.

Martin Mulholland
WoSCA youth development

Jess Millar (Johnstone Jets)

Friday the 2nd of August we were on the ferry, on our way to the 'Errigal youth tour 2014', it was my second year of racing in Errigal so I had a pretty good idea of the courses that where ahead and was really looking forward to it.

The first stage was 3 laps originally; it had been shortened to two because the weather conditions were so bad. It started with a neutral start behind the car the flag lowered as the peloton was in a dip and it was a huge sprint, super-fast. There were two tight corners in this stage and a few hills one of which leading up to the finish line was really steep. I came off the bike after this stage drenched but knowing I had given it my all. I finished 4th girl.

The second stage was a 1.6km hill climb. I really enjoyed this stage I'm not sure why because it was really short but I knew it was 1.6km so I had to give it my absolute all for three minutes. I finished and was really pleased with my time but still sitting in 4th girl.

The third stage was held later that day after the hill climb, it was a hilly three laps, it started at Churchill and was a rolling start down a steep hill and as the peloton turned the corner the flag was lowered, and it was really fast along the straight. As the peloton hit the first hill the peloton split up, I was with a bunch of eight riders which worked well. There was three really tight corners on this course and a few really big hills, but where not as steep as stage ones hills where. On the last lap, half way through I lost the bunch due to tired legs, so I finished the rest of the race by myself allow I felt I had done better in this stage than the first. Crossed the line with a smile.

The fourth stage was held in Letterkenny town centre. It was a flat crit, as coach Richard said the night before "crit racing is our thing" so I was looking forward to it. It was 30 minutes plus 5 laps. I wasn't that pleased with my performance but I loved the way we worked as a team during the time we were racing, was great. Over all I finished 4th girl.

I would like to take this chance to thank Martin Mulholland, Mark Vettraino, Kenny Steele, Richard Park (such fab coaches) and BraveHeart Fund for making it all possible. I have come away with an experience I will never forget.

Ellie Park (Glasgow Riderz)

The Errigal youth tour in Southern Ireland is very different from any other youth tour, as it takes place on open rolling roads (except for the last stage which is a criterium). This year’s tour did not go entirely to plan although I still loved every moment of it.

Stage 1: The format of this year’s tour was altered slightly so the kermesse stage was the first of the four. Due to a lot of accidents in the U16 race before my race was shortened to 2 laps instead of three so that they could fit in the U12 while it was still light. The weather for my race was very, very wet which sort of played into my favour as I live in Scotland so that is a regular situation in races. For the first lap of this race I managed to hang in with the leading group which included all the top boys and a 16 year old girl! But at the very start of the second lap the pace became too much for me and a group of about 5 or 6 other boys so we continued to race on for the final lap. I stayed with this bunch till the end I lost around 1 minute and 30 seconds to the 16 year old but I was happy to be the first girl in the young rider competition and have a significant lead over the other girls behind me. This year team WoSCA decided to stay at the Gartan Outdoor Centre which was right where the stages took place so this was very handy especially in this weather so we could easily cycle back and get a very well deserved hot shower!

Stage 2: The hill climb. The weather was dry for my race although the roads were still very wet. This in my opinion is the hardest stage because there is no rest you are on the limit from the start to the finish .This was a really successful stage for me as I won by 20 seconds. I did feel like I was going to collapse after and my legs had went numb. I had about 4 hours to recover from that till the next stage so me and the team cycled down to the Gartan and had some lunch.

Stage 3: The road race, the rain was back for this one. This race is where it all went wrong for me on the penultimate lap of the race I crashed on one of the corners and was ran over by two other riders. I still managed to finish the race but I was dropped from the lead group and was losing time. Near the finish I was caught by my team mate Jess Millar who helped me for a while by giving me a bit of rest and encouragement this really helped me and I thank her for this. When this race came to an end I was escorted into an ambulance so they could check out my leg which had been ran over by two bikes. Luckily nothing was broken; I was just assured that I will swell up like a balloon, and be very sore for the next couple of days. After I left the ambulance I went to go and see the sports physio who was on site to help. She was very nice she told me exactly what to do to give me the best chance of riding the final stage the next day and for the long term too. I can’t thank her enough for this it was really helpful to have her there. On the plus side I kept my lead in the girls by 6 seconds.

Stage 4: The crit, sadly I was unable to ride this last stage because I went back to the physio for a check-up to see how I was doing where she found that I had bruised a vertebra. If I had raced the last stage it would have had a knock on effect in future events so that was the end of my tour for 2014 but roll on 2015! I’ll be back.
I would like to thank Martin Mulholland for being an amazing team manager also Kenny Steele, Mark Vettraino for being great swanoures and Richard Park for being great mechanic most of all I would like to thank BraveHeart cycling fund for making the trip happen.

Gemma Penman (Johnstone Jets)

It was my first WOSCA team event, and early start in Glasgow and then down to the ferry. Arriving in Donegal was a completely different scene to Scotland, because we were surrounded by big hills. After arriving and having dinner in the Gartan centre, the whole WoSCA team went out on a recce of the route for stage 1, 2 and 3. On the recce we saw the big hill that would be at the end of stage 1, which I had seen in pictures but now the reality of it hit me. Stupidly on the recce I had got my front wheel mixed in with Jess’ and had my first fall in Ireland and gladly my only fall in Ireland.

Day 1 of the race and we had a hilly stage. It was nerve racking as the start time was unknown, but once I got on the bike I felt more relaxed. This stage was said to be the hardest, as it was 2 laps of the route which had a massive hill at the end, where everyone was struggling in their wee ring. The weather kept riders on their toes as it was freezing cold and raining. Once the race got started, we had an adrenaline pumping neutralised start down a bumpy road. The race got spread out very quickly and stayed like that for the rest of this stage. Half way round the first lap, I was in a decent bunch that was keeping a good pace, but when we reached the first major hill, the group split, I could see some of the bunch moving away from me. Over the top of the hill I managed to form a small group with two Irish riders who had also been dropped from the same bunch, and I worked well with them for the rest of the race

Day 2 was made up by 2 stages, uphill TT in the morning and another hilly stage in the afternoon. We warmed up in the Gartan centre, and then rolled to the start line. The time trial in the tour was not what I’m used to, as it had a pretty big hill – with a sharp corner that knocked you out of your rhythm. Again the weather was not great, but the sun did shine when I was doing my TT.

The third stage was a hilly route that took you past the Gartan centre with many sharp turns. I felt stage three was a more interesting stage, because in this stage I felt slightly more comfortable as we were further into the tour. The road was quite slippy so corners were taken with caution. For the majority of the first lap I stayed in the main bunch then split into another bunch as the race went on. In this bunch we worked well to catch other riders, but on the last lap the group split up and had a fast finish.

Day 3 and the last stage was a crit, around Letterkenny town centre. The last stage was 30minutes plus 5laps. For this stage, I had a good feeling about the race. This was what is mainly focused on in Scotland as it was completely flat and for the whole day it stayed dry which was a nice way to finish the tour. I had a good feeling about the race, it was completely flat and for the whole day it stayed dry which was a nice way to finish the tour. This was my strongest race, as I stayed in a strong bunch with my team mates. The course also had some interesting corners that were taken with caution, but it was a good race that I really enjoyed.

Overall, in Ireland I had a fantastic time, on and off the bike and felt it was a great experience, I would also like to thank, Martin, Kenny, Richard, and Mark, who helped out the whole weekend and made it a lot easier for the riders, and finally the brave heart cycling fund for making the trip possible.

Lusia Steele, Johnstone Jets

On Friday the 1st of August WoSCA headed to Ireland to start a 3 day tour. It was my first time doing the Irish tour so was a bit nervous but excited as well. 

The first stage was held in Churchill, it was a 2 lap race with some horrible hills. I rode with a group of about 7. I was feeling comfortable with the pace and I finished 54th overall and 8th girl.

Stage 2 was a hill climb which started near the Gartan Outdoor Education Centre. It started with a downhill start and then a climb up to the village. I had quite a good start but was disappointed with my time as I just died near the end.  
Stage 3 was 3 laps of another hilly course. I knew I was going to find it difficult because we had ridden round it on the Friday night and it was a challenging course with some long hills. I rode with a small group of about 12 but after a lap and a half of the circuit I was struggling and eventually just blew. I then found myself in another small group and finished 55th overall and 8th girl.

The last stage was a crit in Letterkenny town centre with 3 WoSCA riders in the second group and we were all racing for Jess so we just had to stay in the race for as long as possible. Our group had around 20 riders in it and 7 of them Scottish so we were all trying to help each other. We were all just killing ourselves it was the last stage so we could recover later. As  we got round to the back end of the course with just under 8 minutes to go there was a Commissaire standing who pulled us out as we were 50 seconds behind the leader. We were all disappointed but the race up to then had been decent so we had that to come away with.  

I really enjoyed Ireland and would like to thank coaches, Martin Mulholland, Richard Park, Mark Vettraino, Kenny Steele, WoSCA and Braveheart Cycling for making the incredible weekend possible for us.

Calum Johnston (Glasgow Riderz)

It was the day before we left for Errigal and I was feeling nervous and really excited at the same time.  It was my first time doing this youth tour so I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t really know any of the riders that were doing the tour so I was intrigued to see how I would cope against these other cyclists. The day we left was a really wet, windy day and I was hoping as we were getting close to Ireland it would brighten up a bit for the recce that night. When we boarded the ferry our coaches and we had a team meeting just going over what we would like to achieve over the weekend. The first night there we went for a ride around the road race courses just to get used to what awaited us. The coaches were in the car following us around just making sure we were all safe and that nothing happened to us. Later that night the coaches then went over the schedule for the next day.

I woke up the following morning with butterflies in my stomach. I was hoping it would be nice weather.  So I got out of bed and looked out the window only to see rain. I was then more nervous because there could be a lot of crashes so I knew that I was going to have to get a good position on the start line so that I could stay out of any trouble that would be happening behind. Thankfully Richard, one of the coaches found me a small space at the front. I now was feeling more confident about my start. The first lap was fast and I was feeling pretty good. I had to dodge a lot of crashes but other than that, I was in the bunch. I looked around the bunch to see if all my teammates where still there and they were. I felt that good that I was in at the front of the bunch for the first climb. The crowds were amazing and that’s what spurred me on, it was amazing and you felt like a professional. I could hear the coaches shout my name “well done Calum, keep going”.  It was the last lap and out of the 97 cyclists there were only about 30 riders left in the bunch and all team WoSCA was still there. We were approaching the last climb of the race and my legs were feeling okay. I could feel my right leg cramping up a tiny bit so I knew what I had to do. I got up to the front of the bunch so that it would take longer for everyone to pass me but before you know it the attacks started to come and I slowly fell back to the back of the bunch in the sprint. I managed 26th in the end and our team was 4th overall. I was really happy with my performance.

Stage 2 was also wet. It was the hilly time trial. We had went over it in the recce and I found the climb challenging. The organisers changed the course last minute but it was shorter so it would make it more interesting for the riders. I set of and was feeling pretty good up until the first rise and then my legs just burst. I managed to carry on and finish it with a time of 2.32 I think it was which put me into 33rd place. After stage 2 I was in 26th overall on GC. I knew that I would do better in the road race in the afternoon because it suits me but I was also hoping that my legs weren’t going to be as sore as they were in the time trial.

Stage 3
Stage 3 was in the afternoon a few hours after the time trial. This was another stage where you had to be in a good position for the start because the first corner was really sharp and there was sure to be some crashes. My gridding position was ok, I was in the middle. We had to wait a long time for it to start which was annoying because it was pouring and it was really cold. The first corner is approaching and this is the one that everyone has been worried about. A crash right in front of me. I had to brake like mad, I ended up trying too bunny hop his foot but couldn’t in time and so I just had to go over which gave me the Goosebumps. I was pretty shaky after that but kept my cool as the race was about to start again. During the race one of my team mates ‘Andy the gas tank’ attacked and he managed to get away. Other riders went with him and he managed to stay away. Back in the bunch myself and Danny are trying to disrupt the pace on some parts of the course. There was only about 500 metres to go and I went to the front and started the sprint, Danny wasn’t far behind me. I was giving it my all just to try and keep the small gap that I had, but the finish seemed to take ages and everyone started to pass me and I just had nothing left in the tank. In the end Andy got 6th, Danny got 13th and I got 21st. Alexander crashed on one of the sharp greasy corners but got back on his bike and finished 32nd which was still awesome.

The last stage was a criterium in the town of Letterkenny. I knew that it was going to be really fast from the gun. It was a great course for racing on. During the race myself, Danny and Andy are still in the bunch, it must of only been about three laps to go and I was getting ready to move up the field. It was really hard trying to move up the field because it was a tight course and I didn’t want to risk crashing. So I moved up slowly, passing person by person and on the finishing straight I sprinted my hardest and I managed to sprint by 6 or 7 guys . I placed 20th in the stage and I finished 19th overall on GC by the end of the tour.

A massive thank you to all the coaches for looking after us all throughout the whole weekend.  I loved every minute of it and would definitely do it again and again. Another massive thanks goes to our sponsors for supporting us.

Alexander MacRae (Glasgow Riderz)

I was very pleased to be included in the Wosca under-16 boys team for the Errigal youth tour 2014.
We would be travelling and staying together as a team and that was fine by me. We met up in Glasgow early Friday morning and I was in the car with coach Kenny and Danny my team mate. We all got on the Ferry at Cairnryan for Belfast and we had a team talk and were given out Wosca tops. On landing we headed to Churchill outdoor centre to settle into our accommodation. We all done a few circuits around Churchill and headed back in for food and team talks.

The tour had 4 stages starting on Saturday and finishing on Monday.

Stage 1 Road race 5 times around a fast course with a difficult climb before a short run in to the finish.

I made my usual slow start but was soon able to get into the main bunch and the pace was high.2 riders got away but Andy Calum and Danny and I were still in contention for a good finish. The last time up the hill was brutal but we all finished high up on GC about 1 minute behind the leaders with Andy doing the best of our team. Should have said race was run in heavy rain too. We headed back for showers and recovery. Food and we had a nice night talking to some of the other riders who were staying there too.

Stage 2 Hilly time trial.

Should have been one of my stronger events but my time was just about average but I put it all in so I was not too disappointed.

Stage 3 Road race in the afternoon once again in very wet conditions.

This was the stage that I was really looking forward to as the circuit suited menthe race was badly delayed and I was shivering as we started. Again I started at the back but made a quick move forward and was soon in the main bunch but then disaster struck was cruising along and next thing I was on the deck after getting my back wheel taken from underneath me. Joe Nally ran over the top of me but my bike was ok but I hurt my shoulder legs and arms.
I got back into the race but could not really recover good enough to put in a performance but I got round ok but that was tour over for me and now it was up to the boys to keep the team show going. Andy was superb and put in a big break and Calum and Danny were right up there in the Sprint for high finishes tori went straight back for my shower and recovery and although I was sore. I was ok to ride in the Crit race on Monday in Letterkenny.

Stage 4 Criterium around Letterkenny.

The last race for all of us and the first few laps were run at a furious pace and although I did my best I could not keep up with the bunch and after about 4/5 laps on my own I was pulled out .The boys all managed to sit in the bunch for high finishes and that ensured that we finished 4th overall and we were pleased with that. Must thank my team mates for getting that great finish.

After the presentations in Letterkenny we headed back to the Ferry and on the way we had a great fish supper.
I would like to thank the coaches Martin/Kenny/Richard and Mark for all their help and advice over the weekend and for putting up with me. I would love to race for Wosca again in the future. Thanks to the Braveheart fund for all the funding too.

Danny Mulholland (Johnstone Jets)

Have you ever went out on your bike when it's really, really wet? You see, I thought I had too. That is, until the Errigal international youth tour 2014. Gee wiz man, I was in shorts! So, it was cold. And wet. And miserable. But I enjoyed it. It's just that wet, that it isn't wet anymore. Water is no object. Cold is in your mind. And speed was in my legs.

Well, that was very dramatic. Thought I'd jazz things up a tad, seeing as they're ain't much good to come from torrential rain. So stage one then, bit of a turnaround in that the 'queen stage' was first, which meant that everyone was super nervous. So no surprise that there was a crash-I think on the second lap (but don't hold me to that, I had brain freeze) - that caused a large split in the group. All of WOSCA stayed in the front, and we stayed there till the end, keeping our noses clean and trying to stay warm. I lost a little bit of time, as my calf was troubling me (again, (must be the Irish air) but c'est la vie) so I eased off the gas up the last climb in order to race the next day.

Day two had stages two and three, and hill climb and a road race. The hill climb was good, I was fastest WOSCA, just, and we were all very close together on time. Oh and shout out to big Joe Nally who rode that hill climb on a flat, (and still nearly beat me) chapeau.

Stage three is a bit more interesting. After About 3 laps of consistent mental attacks, one finally stuck! And yup, it was Andy V, along with two other guys. As that group went, we had a free ticket to do nothing, while the two big teams of Isle of Man and FBD Ireland had no one, and had to chase. On the fourth lap, the 2nd placed rider attacked with his team mate, and the yellow hopped on. Then it was a ride to the finish, as no one was either strong enough or prepared to chase those lads back. Andy got dropped from the lead group at almost the end, where he then hopped on the chasers. He was dropped from them too (come on, he had 7 and a 1/2 gears), but he still managed to hang in for 6th place on the stage, tenth overall, and a brilliant day for WOSCA. I took 6th in the bunch sprint of about 20 guys, and Calum finished in that group also. Unfortunately Alex came down hard in the wet that day, and he was pretty sore. At this point, WOSCA has three guys in the top 20, and one in tenth. We were going into stage 4, our stage, with arguably our best position in a stage race ever. So, stage 4. I said it was 'our stage' as stage 4 was a crit, and crits are a Scottish youth's breid and butter (remember to not pronounce the 't's). We went into it extremely confident, and it showed. All three of us were comfortable in the bunch. When “Joseef Naldo” attacked, I got a tad worried as I didn't know what buffer Andy had on him in GC. This regrettably meant I had to chase the great fifer, along with the Isle of Man lads who were chasing like bonkers (belter). I wanted Andy to beat Joe overall, but I didn't want to catch him. It ended up that we actually did the perfect amount of work, as Joe took the stage and Andy held onto his top ten by two seconds. See if Joe had like carbon fibre socks... Ah no, never mind. In the gallop, I took a respectable 10th, would've been higher but for some sketchy riding. But, C'est la vie.

If there was one thing to pick up on in this bike race, it would be the lack of gridding. This meant that a good warm up meant getting any idea of a good start was punted out of a very high window, and also a potential fall if you're hang in round the back of the bunch. So you had to choose between a warm up or a good position in the grid, which was extremely vital on the narrow Irish lanes. Apart from that, the race has gotten bigger and better every year, and with the inclusion of WOSCA at the Gartan centre (the race HQ) the racing and preparation was made unaccountably easier. Not to mention the insane bants. Which were insane. HMS carbon, classic HMS carbon.

Thank you to BraveHeart fund, WOSCA, thanks to all the coaches and the Errigal cycling club. No weather, you can get to.

Andrew Vettraino (Glasgow Riderz)

We travelled as a team on Friday the 1st of August by boat and arrived at the Gartan Centre, our home for the weekend, in the early evening just in time for dinner and a short recce of the first 3 stages. That night we sat down with the coaches to discuss our targets for the tour and how we would go about achieving those targets before getting a good night’s rest for the racing the next day.

The first day was the queen stage with 5 laps up the infamous Keelogs climb. The race hurtled round the first lap at 45+ mph on the decent. The awful weather had made the road conditions very treacherous and many riders found themselves on the deck (or in some cases in the fields!) so to keep myself safe I rode right on the front and attacked before the turns to ensure I could pick my own line. It was immediately clear that the WoSCA lads were feeling great as I watched Alex - now called “HMS Carbon” due to a recent tradition of male WoSCA teams giving each member nicknames like “T6” and “The Midget” (three guesses who that is) - then Danny and Calum dance up the hills with surprising grace despite the 18% gradient at the summit of the climb! After the first lap all of WoSCA were safely in the bunch which was now only 30 from 97 starters. My legs hadn’t quite got the previous day’s travelling out of them and so were feeling pretty heavy.  I just made sure I stayed in the bunch and rolled in 17th, 10 seconds down on 3rd place with the rest of WoSCA in the top 30. I had hoped to get in some breaks but I had been hanging on for dear life when the two winning riders escaped. Despite this I was pleased with my performance and looking forward to tomorrow.
Day 2 began with a hill climb and I aimed to just limit my losses as TTs aren’t my strongest suit. Stage 3 however suited me perfectly and was the stage I had been targeting in the tour. Unfortunately Alex slid out on one of the corners on the first lap and, despite our best efforts to slow the pace; his injuries meant he couldn’t stay with the bunch. I felt fantastic sitting on the front watching as riders tried to form breakaways and I was able to bridge to any break that looked threatening. On the first KoH of the second lap I broke away with fellow scot - Logan Dow - who quickly dispatched me to take max points for the climb. I looked back down the road expecting to see the peloton but instead I saw a healthy gap with two riders trying to bridge. We picked up Logan and quickly worked together to increase the gap. By the next climb we had 20 seconds and although Logan was dropped (mostly because of his Chris Froomesque acceleration on the previous climb) we extended the gap to 45 seconds but the other two riders proved too strong for me and I was dropped at the end of lap 3. I composed myself and took a gel before getting picked up by the chasing group of 3: the yellow, the polka-dot and the white jersey. We worked well until the yellow made an attack with the polka-dot which I missed and, although I held them at about 5 seconds for the best part of half a lap, I wouldn’t re-join them. The white jersey picked me up on the run-in to the finish and tanked me in the sprint but I didn’t mind because we had held off the peloton and I had finished 6th on the stage! It was also the first time I’ve ever had to have a gear check after a race (I passed by the way).

On day 3 I awoke to the news that I was 10th on GC. This meant I also got my first ever gridding in a stage race which in an Irish Crit means a parade lap with the rest of the top 10 before the peloton comes around. The course was a fast four cornered circuit which we had to tackle for 40 minutes plus 5 laps. Attacks flew off the front from the gun and Joe Nally from Hardie Bikes, a good friend of WoSCA, went up the road very early with an Irish Talent Team rider and a guy from the Isle of Man.  Unbelievably, they stayed away for the whole race with Joe taking the win (less unbelievable) and I rolled in with the bunch 8 seconds down to maintain my 10th place.

Overall the 2014 Errigal Youth Tour is the best event I have ever raced. The whole team performed brilliantly on all stages thanks to the great support of all the coaches. 10th on GC and 7th in the KoH for me and 4th place for the team (with three riders in the top 20!) are fair rewards for our efforts throughout the race. Thanks to all the coaches, the organisers and the Braveheart Cycling Fund for making this all possible.

Danny Mul and Andy V “drillin’ it” on stage 1

Andy V sprinting for 6th on stage 3 

Lusia S and Jess M driving the bunch in the crit

Gemma P in the wheels

Alex M, patched up after coming off in stage 3

Calum J


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