European Youth Tour
This August was the second year that we have been over to Holland, with a bunch of youth riders to take part in the European Youth Tour.
The tour, this year in its 49th year, is a 5 day stage race plus a prologue and is open to riders under the age of 18 on 1st September. This year we assisted a representation of both current and ex-members of Hillingdon Slipstreamers to travel to the region of Drenthe and the town of Assen. This year, and in keeping with most previous years, saw a total 700 riders from 19 nations take part in the competition . A chance to witness many future names in the world of cycling in their formative years
The pedigree is strong. Lieuwe Westra, Michael Barry, Marianne Vos, Lucy Garner and Laura Trott to name a few have all performed in recent tournaments here, and this year was no exception. Dan Tullet (Hargroves Cycles) has proved himself again this year, taking the yellow jersey for his category for the second year running. Lucy’s sister, Grace Garner, is also proving herself by performing at a high level consistently throughout each stage.
The tour is hosted at a central focal point, the “Weilerhome”, that is an excellent facility where families are encouraged to camp (85 euro for a 9 day pitch with electricity). The Weilerhome has an onsite clubhouse, providing catering, TV, teas and coffees, and carbohydrate rich refreshments for the dads. The campsite, offers suberb temporary toilet and shower facilities and is alive with superb company and enthusiastic youngsters.
The racing consists of the following:
- Day 1 – Prologue, 1km time trial
- Day 2 – Criterium round a village (with cobbles)
- Day 3 – Classic Road Race through Drenthe
- Day 4 – Time Trial
- Day 5 –Criterium around a village (with cobbles)
- Day 6 – Criterium around the campsite surroundings (with cobbles)
To succeed in this competition, the British riders have to make a few adjustments. Regulations state that the gear restrictions allocated for youth in Holland have less gear inches than those imposed by British Cycling. As a result, the Dutch riders typically spin at around 15% higher cadence for long periods over this flat terrain. The other peculiarity is that the boys race with girls who are one year older – big differences in growth patterns are clearly visible between 11 year old boys and 12 year old girls. Typically, they overshadow the boys in height and carry much more developed muscle used in racing. This continues to the under 16’s category where the males are split out from the females into their own races.
The organisation is out of this world. Rolling road blocks, police, ambulances, broom wagons, support vehicles and motor cycle outriders cast an air of professionalism not seen in many races in this country. The support of the local people help to make racing on this scale happen – along with the many volunteers that give up their time and contribute in many ways.
Everyone races for the four categories of jersey – Yellow (overall GC leader), White (Special Sprints), Green (Sprint Points) and Pink (overall GC girl) in their own age category.
And whilst all this is great entertainment, let’s not forget that the week is centred purely around the rider. Evening entertainment on campsite, and excellent hotel next (which hosts a bowling alley, free amusement arcade, restaurants, speed skating rink, bike shop and two swimming pools), and a group of kids playing and interacting with freedoms so rare in this country – a truly amazing 9 days holiday!
How did the Slipstreamers fair? Very well. Oliver (10) finished 2nd in his Aspiranten category. The Aspiranten’s are short races for children under 10 or without a racing license to try some short distance fun races. Harriot (13) came in in the top third of her category, Abi (10) in the top half of hers, and Nathan (11 – crashed on day 5) finished in the lower half of his. The older riders used this as a learning experience to further broaden their European racing careers.
Youth Tour: http://www.europeanjuniorcyclingtourassen.eu/
Hillingdon Slipstreamers: http://www.slipstreamers.co.uk