The Errigal International Youth Tour provided a vibrant, exciting, colourful spectacle of international class youth bike racing.
With teams taking part from all over the UK, Ireland and as far afield as South Africa, Churchill village had a uniquely international feel to it for the first two days before breaking camp and heading to Letterkenny for the final of four stages on Monday.
On Monday lunchtime, when the dust had settled, the prizes given out and the plaudits given and received, all that anyone talked about was how next year’s event could not come around quick enough and all agreed that the Youth Tour had stepped up to an altogether different level this year.
The event is now without doubt not only the top cycling event for youths in Ireland and the UK but is now one of the top youth events in Europe.
As for the racing? Well it was hard, fast and furious throughout with ecstatic highs and heartbreaking lows as dreams were either shattered or realised on the brutally tough climbs around Churchill.
Stage 3 is the hardest of all of the stages in the Youth Tour, the Queen Stage if you like with the famous Keelogues Category One Climb up to the finish in Churchill, as a cyclist you either fear it or welcome it depending on your ability.
On Sunday, as over 200 youths battled their way up the climb and were cheered on by the hundreds of spectators that lined the sides of the road, it was truly reminiscent of a scene from the recent Tour de France.
For some, the cheers of the crowd would drive them onto victory, for others a multitude of hands helped push them up and over the steepest sections as the heat took over. When it was all finished Dylan Traynor from Errigal CC had triumphed over all in the U-12 race to take the stage winners jersey to bed with him that night.
The young lad from Crolly who was lying sixth at the bottom of the hill powered up the climb catching and passing the race leader and yellow jersey holder on the line to the delight of the home crowd. Errigal had more reason to celebrate that day as both Shauna McFadden (U-12) got onto the podium as second girl in Stage 3 and Ciara Doogan who was second girl in the days earlier time-trial.
Other notable performances from Errigl’s youth riders included fantastic debut tours from young Cathal Gallagher who was seventh overall, Kieran Mulhearn (ninth) and Cian McBride (17th) in the U-11 category, Orla Harkin (seventh) and Amanda Gallagher (11th) in the Girls U-11 category and a top ten finish from her sister Amy and Ciara Doogan in the U-14 category and PJ Doogan in the U-13’s overall.
Errigal Cycling Club would like to thank the residents of Churchill and Letterkenny for there help and support in ensuring that this years event went as smoothly as it did.