54th European Junior Cycling Tour – Assen – Netherlands 2018
Monday 30th July – Saturday 4th August
14 young Welwyn Wheelers travelled to the Netherlands for the prestigious 54th edition of the European Junior Cycling Tour Assen, also known affectionately as the Jeugdtour. A week-long event consisting of 6 timed stages, taking place in and around the suburbs of Assen and within the beautiful province of Drenthe. The race has a similar format to the Tour de France, with riders contesting the Yellow, Green, White and Pink jerseys each day, with an overall winner in each category concluded at the end of the week.
Monday: 1.7k Prologue. Tuesday: Criterium, up to 25 laps of a 1.8km closed road circuit. Wednesday: The famous “Klassieker”, Road Race, point to point, with full escorted rolling road closure through the province of Drenthe back to the finish in Assen; Juniors U18 92.9km, Nieuwelingen U16 77.8km, Cat VII 29.5km, Cat VI 25.8, Cat V 21.7km. Thursday: Time Trial 7.5km – 13km. Friday: Omloop Road Race at Kostvlies. Cat V 21k, Cat VI 25.2km, Cat VII 29.4km, Nieuwelingen U16 48km, Juniors 60km. Saturday: Final deciding Criterium of the week, 3.8km lap through the beautiful Asserbos woods in Assen, 19km – 26km fast and furious.
Over 800 riders from over 20 different countries took part, including guest teams from as far away as South Africa! There were great performances from all of our Welwyn riders during the week. Although the Welwyn riders did have a secret weapon, in its well-oiled Academy Coaching Team; Richard Maynard, Graeme Anderson and led by head coach Francis Gallacher. The rider’s preparation, warm up, cool down and nutrition were all taken care of in a manner Dave Brailsford at Team Sky would have approve of!
Races during the week are split into 12 different age categories, each day, ranging from 8 year old Category 1’s to the Juniors at 17 and 18 years of age. This takes a huge organisation involving over 350 volunteers, many returning each year to support this fantastic event. A big thank you to all of them.
After a short prologue stage, on Monday, that saw Euan Woodliffe (Cat VII) come in 4th and Joe Kiely 2nd (Nwl.1) by 0.03 seconds, it was on to stage 1 on Tuesday. Again Kiely and Woodliffe impressed with a win and 5th place respectively. Caelan Miller (Cat VII) was 7th and Archie Peet (Nwl.2) an excellent 3rd from a breakaway.
Youngest riders Dylan Starkey (Cat V) and Beth Bennett (Cat V) rode well. Dylan was in the thick of the action in all the sprints and Beth fought hard particularly in Wednesday’s stage 2, the “Klassieker”. In fact the 1.7km section of cobbles of day 3 brought out the best in all our riders. With crashes and punctures to contend with, breaking up the field, Iona Moir and Ellen Bennett (Nieuwelingen Meisjes U16) both clawed their way back up to the lead bunch. Charles Rollins and Rizwan Hameed (Nwl.2) were caught behind crashes in their race, but both still rode to the finish, despite Rizwan injuring his hand. Calum Moir (Cat.6) proved unshakeable too, fighting back many a time to the front of the race.
Ride of the day was Joe Kiely’s race to the finish after the cobble section, during the Klassieker, where he punctured, while in Yellow, losing one and a half minutes on the leading group of riders. After receiving a spare wheel from neutral service Joe’s dogged determination to retain yellow drove him on as he leap-frogged from one splinter group to the next before getting back into the leading group to contest the final sprint to the finish! With both the Nwl.1 & Nwl.2 categories combined within one race for the Klassieker, making a peloton of over 150 riders, this was no mean feat! A star of the future no doubt…
With Thursdays Time trial and Fridays Omloop stages done, the 3 Junior category riders Joe Bennett, Nathan Blackmore and Jamie Dene were in the thick of it on Saturdays final stage of the week, the Asserbos Criterium, finishing close to each other in the main pack. Euan Woodliffe was 3rd, cementing 4th overall in the general classification. Joe Kiely’s 2nd place earned him enough bonus seconds to give him the overall win and Yellow Jersey in the Nieuwelingen 1 category and was the cherry on the cake for the Welwyn Wheelers’ squad, or as the Dutch pronounce it “Well Win Wheelers!” What a great week of cycle racing! We will be back next year!
List of participating Welwyn riders and their categories:
Cat V (67 riders took part in this category)
Cat VI (75 riders took part in this category)
Cat VII (78 riders took part in this category)
Nieuwelingen 1 U16 2003 (75 riders took part in this category)
Nieuwelingen 2 U16 2002 (77 riders took part in this category)
Nieuwelingen Meisjes – Girls (79 riders took part in this category)
Juniors (129 riders took part in this category)