Onwards and Upwards – with Zappi Clothing

We are pleased to announce that the King of the Mountains competition at the Junior Tour of Wales 2016 will be sponsored by Zappi Clothing.

KoM16 v1.0

Run by Italian former pro, and Giro d’Italia Maglia Verde wearer Flavio Zappi, the company is building a name and reputation as a manufacturer of bespoke technical cycling kit. Designed for performance and adventure cycling with a distinctly Italian inspiration, and made exclusively in Italy. More than that, profits from are channeled back to support the Zappi Racing Team – composed primarily of British Under 23 riders taking their first steps into European racing.

Race Organiser Richard Hopkins says:

“We’re delighted to welcome Zappi Clothing to the Junior Tour of Wales. Flavio’s racing history is an inspirational one, but much more more than that, via the Under 23 Racing Team he has brought a number of talented Junior Tour graduates vital international international experience and guidance in the formative years of their senior careers. It’s a really special thing that our KoM jersey is promoting a company whose success will, in turn, help some of this year’s riders make their next steps in the sport.

With a hyper-competitive field, including Zappis’ own junior squad all coming to peak form at just the right moment, and a lot more climbing in this year’s edition of the race, the King of the Mountains competition really is going to be a battle. We can’t wait to see how it shapes up.”

Flavio Zappi adds:

The Tour of Wales is one of the few British junior races that compares with the classic climbing races of Continental Europe. The professional teams are watching this one for future talent, and so am I. It’s a special opportunity for Zappi Clothing to sponsor the KoM competition. The best of luck to all these boys who look forward to racing careers with passion and optimism!  ”

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Deja Vu all over again

Around this time last year we put up a post about how the 2015 Junior Tour entry was the biggest ever – and that, as a result, selecting the riders to start the race was the most difficult – and unpleasant job ever. We know so many have built their seasons to culminate in this race so it isn’t just numbers on a spreadsheet we’re dealing with.

Well, the total entry this year is a tiny bit smaller. However, the quality is even higher, in a context where we are still limited to a 100 rider field. We are again over 200 entries – and even more amazingly, 110 of you are British second cat riders with excellent racing records. That’s an entire race worth of riders plus a reserve list, without even thinking of the 1st cats, 3rds, 4ths or the Internationals.

Choosing the first 80 or so starters was relatively simple, because so many of you have scored points in the earlier Junior Road Series rounds this year. However, many of you have been scoring elsewhere so those last 20 places were a job and a half to allocate. As last year, we ask ourselves: Do we go simply on the total number of points scored, irrespective of where? Or do we take into account the toughness of the event and the quality of the opposition? Or do we look at everyone’s result card in detail and try to work out who is going to be best suited to this year’s parcours? The latter option is the one we’ve always chosen and this year is no different.

We want the best riders to contest the Junior Tour. Later on tonight, 100 of you (plus families, team managers and more) will be relieved, and some, those of you on the reserve list, will be slightly nervous. However almost a full race worth of the rest of you are going to be sitting there feeling it really unfair that you don’t get the chance to show what you can do on the Junior Tour. We agree! We wish we had space for all of you. Until we do, however, we have to choose, and in so many cases the choice is between one really good rider, and another.

Those of you who are riding this year, make sure you bring your best legs, because otherwise your friend/team mate/rival is going to be giving you stick. Those of you who didn’t get in, we hope you still have plenty of time to enter something else over the Bank Holiday weekend. And those of you who are first years, make sure you try again next year.

We hope to see all of you – whether in Brynmawr in just over a month – or somewhere else – really soon. Be fast and be safe.

Zappi’s – Aiming to end the season on a high

All nine Zappis juniors get together

All nine Zappis juniors get together

The Zappi’s squad have been in touch to tell us about their year so far. Having seen them in action at the Junior Tour of the Mendips all the way back in April,  they’ve clearly got something about them – and they’re coming into the Junior Tour with four great riders – and a Junior Road Series race winner among them. Here’s what their domestique, oops, Team Manager Paul Quarterman has to say:

“In this year’s build-up to the Tour of Wales, the Zappi Junior Racing Team has been mixing the grit and adverse weather of British competition with the exotica of European racing. As a first year Junior team, we’ve needed to grab the points to ensure our involvement in the National Series as well as looking to more distant horizons.
Our season kicked-off with a winter training camp in Portugal with Flavio and the U-23 Zappi team, followed by a Spanish National race near Merida.  Charlie Quarterman showed early form by winning the Spanish National, as well as coming 3rd in the points competition, with Pat Christopher also placing well.  Through the Spring, we mixed Belgian kermesse racing with the National Series, scoring well in the Cicle Classic (Pat Christopher 10th), with Charlie Quarterman taking 3rd in the Tour of Mendips and winning the GC at the Isle of Man, and Josh Roberts taking 2nd in the Spring Chicken Road Race along the way to gaining his Cat 2 status.
Charlie Quarterman wins on a very wet and windy Isle of Man

Charlie Quarterman wins on a very wet and windy Isle of Man

Over the Summer and after the May-June exam break, we have raced and trained in France, with Charlie winning the Grand Prix des Hermones (Championnat de Haute Savoie, France), Josh Roberts has participated in the Track Nationals, and Charlie took 5th in the GC at Assen Junior European Tour. This has been followed up with some “learning and developmental” experiences at UCI races in Belgium and National races in Italy. We can now see how racing is at the highest level of European racing, as well as a growing sense of what is required to compete at this level.  Along the way, we’ve also experienced the highs and lows of a racing life: the usual team politics and spats, some laughs, some bad hotels, a lot of travelling, and made great friends including our occasional comrades at Corleys and VCUK.

“So now we all lean back, and the first one to fall off gets them in”

As we look to the end-stage of the season, the Tour of Wales represents a high-point with diverse and challenging racing with the best of British riders  – who should now be in top condition,  as well as a truly international field including teams from Ireland, Netherlands and Belgium. I know we can rely on the unsung heroes from the Valleys to put on a great weekend of racing. I hope we can live up to their efforts to produce a great finish to the national season!!”

Stage 2 route from Finish back to Race HQ

We’ve had a couple of teams let us know that their riders will be making their own way back from the finish of stage 2 – on Llangynidr Mountain – to Race Headquarters at Brynmawr Foundation School.

Riders – if you don’t already know, you can’t take the most direct route (along the A465) as it is currently subject to a cycling ban. The alternative route is pretty simple – but in order to make it even simpler for you, and thanks to British Cycling Mapping, we’ve produced a map with directions and a GPX file you can import into your Garmin (or similar) if you’re equipped.

We’ll have a small number of hard copies of the route map available at stage 2 signing on – so team managers, only, please, grab them in small quantities and hand them to your riders if needed.

If you want to look at or print the map yourself, it’s here, and the .gpx, is part of the full set downloadable here. 🙂

End of an era for RST Racing

Nathan Draper wins the 2015 Junior CiCLE Classic. Guy in 2nd place later DQ’d after it was discovered he was riding a motorbike

With Nathan Draper currently leading the British Cycling Junior Road Series, taking the Junior Road Championship in June, and with three more super-strong riders on the squad, the RST Racing Team are heading into #JTW15 as one of the teams to watch.

Draper is riding alongside European Track Champion Joey Walker and 2014 Hatherleigh Road Race winner Joe Fry, both of them in the Series top 10, and a fascinating addition is Australian-Englishman (or is that English-Australian?) James Higginson. But while it’s a beginning for James, it’s the conclusion of an exciting chapter for RST, although it sounds like they’re tuning up to finish on a high. Team manager Chris Walker writes:

Chris Walker

Chris Walker

“The season is coming to a close for our RST Racing Team boys and it’s tinged with sadness as our time together is coming to a close. RST Racing Team came about without any great plans 5 years ago and at the beginning it was just a case of a few mates coming together from different teams at Youth racing. The plan was to enjoy the racing as much as possible whilst learning the craft of road racing and tactics in a no pressure environment.

Having raced before I was quite shocked to see young kids crying at races as they weren’t coming up to expectations of their parents or because the parents were pushing too hard. I didn’t like the look of this at all as kids should just be enjoying the sport at this early age. We progressed through Youth racing with an unexpected amount successes at National level and then our Junior girls moved on together to to be part of Team Giordana Triton. Our first rider to turn senior was Gabz Cullaigh who was selected for British Cycling Academy.  This year we are left with just three Junior men, Joey Walker, Nathan Draper and Joe Fry but also for the back end of the season we have taken on board Aussie based Brit James Higginson who came over to try his hand at selection for next years BC Olympic Development Plan by riding the track nationals and Tour of wales.

This brings me around to the tour of Wales, what a race, the guys are really up for this as its a great mix of everything needed in a stage race, it has a hard time trial, brutal road race stages and also those which favour the sprinters that may have had a hard time in the Welsh mountains. This race, along with the Isle of Man Junior Tour, has been a big goal for the boys since the start of the season and they have put some big effort into their preparation. Joey and Nathan choosing a hard training camp in the Isle of Man, Joe Fry choosing some top end races in Belgium and James putting in the hilly miles around Manchester.  The Tour of Wales has some great history which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the guys as some who have performed there before are now stars of the Tour de France. The race is also very important as its usually used as a selection race for the upcoming Junior World Championships.

We are all looking forward to the hard few days in Wales, see you there!”

The team already have one Junior Tour stage win after Gabz Cullaigh triumphed at Hardwick last year – and with such a strong squad, all four jerseys are in their sights in 2015.
Gabz Cullaigh wins #JTW14 Stage 4

Gabz Cullaigh wins #JTW14 Stage 4

The Blue Jersey

With the last three winners of the Junior Tour having finished as the leading first year in the previous edition, and with such a strong group of young riders lighting up the BC Road Series, we thought it high time they had something to fight for that is just for them.

We are pleased to announce the 2015 NFTO Junior Tour of Wales Best Young Rider competition – and the Blue Jersey. It will be awarded to the highest placed rider on GC who was born in 1998, and will look a lot like this:

JTW Young Rider jersey final cl

Had the jersey been in existence last year, it would have gone to Cheshire on the back of the HMT Academy’s Alex Braybrooke, who finished a very strong second to Eddie Dunbar. Alex returns in 2015 with that experience under his wheels, and the honour (or pressure!) of race number 1 as his reward. He’s well set after a series of strong performances in European stage races, and with a contract with the Lotto-Soudal development team already in the bag. As the effective reigning Best Young Rider, he’s taken some time out of tuning up for #JTW15 to give this year’s gang of first years a flavour of what to expect:

Thanks Alex, Christian and the team – good luck! Thanks too to NFTO for sponsoring the Blue Jersey – and to Champion System UK for another great design.

So the big question is, with so many quality first years in the field, who’s going to be wearing blue on Monday afternoon???

 

 

Eddie wishes this year’s riders all the best

JTW2014S3E31

Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar saw his junior career off in style after dominating last year’s Junior Tour and finishing with the biggest winning margin in the event’s history*.

Having finished fifth in #JTW13 – at one stage tasting virtual yellow after a courageous early attack on stage 5, Eddie, again riding for Munster, made no mistake in 2014. Starting with a solid fifth place on the opening time trial, he unleashed a tumultuous attack on the stage 2 finale up Llangynidr Mountain, putting nearly three minutes into a bunch led in by the promising Alex Braybrooke.

After finishing serenely in the bunch on stages 3 and 4, he again let his climbing legs loose on the Tumble, winning the final stage and in the process building his lead to 4:51 over Braybrooke, whose own ride – to second place as a first year junior – marks himself out as a major talent. He will be one of the riders to watch this time.

After turning pro for the NFTO team, Eddie carried on where he left off, right from the Severn Bridge Road Race in March. A storming ride in the Tour de Yorkshire even got him the unique honour of winning a jersey from a hospital bed – after crashing and breaking his collarbone.

Since then he’s been back to the Tumble – ripping it up at the Velothon Wales Pro Race, and has added the Irish Under 23 Road Championship to his rapidly growing palmares. He’s clearly going to go on to even bigger and better things. And he’s got some words for this year’s riders too:

“I’d like to wish all the riders the best of luck in this years JTW. It’s a great race to take part in! It was one of my favourite races that I did during my Junior career and I’m proud to say that I won the JTW especially with the history it has.”

 

 

A Message From The Organiser

As many of you already knew, the entry we’ve received this year was utterly unprecedented – nearly 230, in a context where our field size is stuck at 100. We got 107 entries just from British second cats! It’s overwhelming to realise how many of you want to ride, and one of the worst feelings ever to know we had room for less than half of you.

We meant it literally when we wrote on Twitter that we were going to look at every single rider’s result card, but unfortunately there’s no single ‘right’ way to select who starts and who doesn’t, it’s all a value judgment: How do you rank a rider who has been away racing in Europe against someone who rides lots of small races – or a smaller number of big ones? And how do you rank someone who won last week against someone who won in April, but hasn’t raced since? And where do the international entries fit in?

We think we’ve done the best we can with the information we had to select the best 100 entrants to start the race, but there’s no such thing as perfect. Everyone who lost out will justifiably think they were good enough – and a lot of you will be right as we simply didn’t have room for everyone we wanted to pick. Every single one of you who missed the cut will be understandably disappointed – and with good reason. You would have graced the race, and we did everything we could to get a bigger field.

For those of you who have the chance to come back next year, make sure you get your entries in as the race will hopefully be getting bigger and better – in all senses of the term.

To those of you who are moving up to the Under 23 ranks, we hope it won’t be long before you’re going up the Tumble in the Grand Prix of Wales, Velothon Pro Race, Tour of Britain, or something else equally prestigious.

Those of you who have been selected – make the most of it, and remember that for each of you, there’s a rider who was unlucky. You’d better give it your best shot because if you don’t, someone is going to be sneering at you in the results and saying “I could have done better than that!”.  And remember the riders who’ve ridden the stages and worn the jerseys before you. This race has a history – now’s your chance to live up to it, and maybe define a piece of it for yourself.

Scott Davies – under 23’s National TT Champion

Scott Davies has an unmistakable talent, one that RCUK witnessed at first hand on the slopes of Mallorca’s mountainous interior.

The 18-year-old, who last year won the junior Tour of Wales – adding his name to an illustrious of former champions – was a new addition to the Madison-Genesis roster this season.

Scott Davies was crowned under-23 champion earlier at the British Time Trial Championships (pic: Huw Evans Picture Agency)
Team manager, Roger Hammond, had noted the young rider’s ability and snapped him up even before he rode to seventh place at the junior world championships in Florence, last September.

Hammond’s reputation as a talent spotter – not to mention Davies’ reputation as a rider – received a further boost last Thursday (June 26) when the Welsh teenager stormed to the national under-23 time trial.

His first season with the Milton Keynes-based outfit has not been entirely straightforward: a training crash, and another big fall during the Tour des Fjords having hampered his progress.

But after beating compatriot Owain Doull (An Post-Chain Reaction) to the red, white and blue-striped jersey, Davies – who remains as grounded as ever – could not hide his delight at the result.

Speaking to RCUK, he said: “On a personal note, it was pretty huge for me. It was a target of mine. When I looked at the season and sat down with the guys at Welsh Cycling I thought the national TT could be something I could go for.

“So to have that expectation in mind and then to achieve it is immensely satisfying.

“To take a title on home soil as such is great. I think that’s probably the most local course I’ll get in terms of the national champs so I’m over the moon.”

A tough, hilly course awaited at Celtic Manor for the three national time trial races – with Davies, Emma Pooley and Sir Bradley Wiggins the trio who took home the national titles.

Read more here …