Luca Holmes – U11


Last weekend I competed in my first Errigal International Youth Tour. Being the biggest youth race in the country and possibly Europe, many riders came from England, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and even Belgium and Malta. The racing itself was magnificent, there was a great atmosphere, lots of riders plus some very nice bikes and tech.

Stage1: Road Race

Killian, Ryan and myself warmed up on the course together. We spotted a nasty left hander just after the start, which would need to be taken with caution. When the start came the atmosphere was buzzing. Almost 5m from the start 6 riders, 3 from the Isle of Man and 3 others went down in the neutralized zone. The race itself was very fast with lots of crashes. Ryan stayed with the front group until near the end while Killian and I had formed a group off the back with riders from Edinburgh, Eastlands Velo and Kanturk O’Leary Stone. We worked well together and then I was dropped on the last climb.

Stage2: Time Trial

We were woken quite early on Sunday ahead of the TT. I was off at 8.17 with Killian 2 minutes later and Ryan about 20 minutes later. We didn’t have time to warm up on the course so I did a few minutes on the turbo to get my legs spinning. I kept my average during the TT at about 30kph. Killian was nearly 20 seconds faster than me and Ryan more than a minute faster than me.

Stage3: Road Race

Stage 3 was set to finish on Keelogues, the hardest climb I’ll ever do in a race. It was a fast stage, more than 6km was descending or on flats. The group split on a short, sharp climb just after the start. We descended from there to a dangerous U-bend and it was flat from there to the KOM before Keelogues. The crowd on Keelogues was unbelievable with people lining both sides of the road like a stage of the Tour de France.

Stage4: Criterium

Stage 4 was my favourite stage in Errigal. The crit was fast with 8 corners all 90°. The race split from the start and there were crashes left, right and centre. The stage was won by a rider from Edinburgh which meant no stage was won by an Irish rider during Errigal 2018.

Overall it was a great experience to do an international race at such a young age. I came 39th overall and Killian was 37th. Ryan was 13th overall and the 3rd Irish U12. I was 12th U11 overall and 3rd Irish U11. I would like to thank everyone who played a part big or small – Thank You

                           Ready for the start

Ryan Fox. Under 12’s

I was competing in my first Errigal Youth Tour. There were 4 stages over 3 days. We traveled up on the Friday at lunch time in the club van: me, Luca and Killian had a long four-hour drive, while Alice (Killian’s sister) kept Ivan (our driver and team manager) company in the front.

When we got to Letterkenny, we got into our kit and went for a cycle with Terry. When we got back we got are dinner and chilled out for the night.

We got up on Saturday morning and went to sign on and we had to pin our numbers on. We got the bikes out and did a practice lap of the course.

Stage 1 had 2 KOMs: within 5 meters of the start of the race there was a crash and there were a lot of riders skidding everywhere! Someone crashed in front of me just after the flag dropped off to race and I had to chase hard to get back on: I found a group of Irish riders and we worked together but didn’t catch back on. I attacked with 500m to go and one rider came around me -- I got 16th place.

The next morning started with a TT: it was a hill climb, so didn’t really suit me, but I came in 15th.  I was then sitting 16th overall going into stage 3, famous for the Keeloges climb at the end of the course. The start of the race was supposed to be neutralized but it wasn’t: right from the start I found myself with Killian in a group with Irish and English chasing back on to the main group. We nearly got back on but then the main group started putting the hurt on and we didn’t get on. I attacked my group on the slopes of Keeloges but unfortunately 2 riders came around me. We had a nice evening dinner thanks to Ivan’s cooking skills.

Stage 4 was a town crit: I liked the course a lot and came 12th which left me 13th over the 4 stages. I was tired but really happy to get such a good result (9 of the 11 ahead of me were visitors from abroad: it was a very strong field).

I would like to thank my teammates working for me, Ivan for keeping us fed and telling us everything about every stage, VeloRevolution for comfy kit and Infinity Cycles, Athy for having my bike running perfectly and my body hydrated.     

Killian O’Brien, under 12’s

The Errigal Youth International Tour was an amazing event. It was full of action packed races at a really high pace, with huge fields: there were 57 riders at under 12, including loads of visitors from the Isle of Man, Scotland, England and further afield. The road race courses were about 9-10 km: under 12s had 1 lap of each course while the under 14 girls had 2 laps, the boys had 3 laps, the under 16 girls had 4 laps and the boys had 5 laps.

The most painful part was climbing to the top of quarry hill at the end of stage 1, but the crowd at the end (including my mum, my sister Alice and dad) helped.

On the third stage, after a short, sharp climb there was fast, steep, winding descent and the yellow jersey and the polka dot jersey crashed right off the bat. For me the most fun part of the tour was going up Keeloges at the end of that stage: the last 500m averages over 10%, but everyone who wasn’t racing was cheering you on and giving pushes. Our names were on the road in chalk, cowbells were ringing and with all the noise it was a real buzz.

Orwell did a good job on GC but had a few problems along the way. Áine crashed, had a puncture and and her brakes were rubbing up one of the hills.

I really enjoyed the Errigal International because the organisation is super (so the races were all on time) and me and my friends worked together and got some good results. That is why Errigal is my favourite youth race ever!

The under 12 team getting in some stretching - very Professional!

And a few words from Ivan O’Brien – Team Manager, dad and Super Supporter! :

On behalf of all the parents, I'd like to thank the club for their support, the use of the club van and our great new base with the Orwell Youths Gazebo! The level of support that the kids all give each other, with no negativity at all, is really heartwarming, and all those hours spent coaching them, particularly by Dave, Jen and Stephen, meant nobody was over-awed by the event. The quality and size of the fields are amazing -- there were about 85 U16 boys, which is pretty impressive, particularly flying around a tight crit circuit. Can't wait for next year!

                           Ivan - Team Manager, Supporter, Driver, Dad in action:)