Devins impresses in Austria
Matthew Devins of Yeats Country Cycling Club was among the Irish Team for the recent Youth Tour of Austria. The group of Ireland's best 6 riders being selected on performances throughout the Irish cycling season. The others were Tom Moriarty O'Leary Stone Kanturk, Cathal Gallagher Errigal Cycling Club, Keith Mulroy Westport Covey Wheelers, Sean Barrett O'Leary Stone Kanturk and Johnny Foster Bohermeen Cycling Club. This race is the biggest and best organised race in Europe for U16 riders. I It was going to be the experience of a life time for these young lads and the first time an Irish team was competing.
There was a total of 132 riders which is a huge field for these young boys to negotiate. The race was based in Badswaltersdorf a small town in the south east corner of Austria. The Race started with 1.5km prologue time trial with the riders starting at 30 second intervals. The first problem the Irish lads were to encounter was the heat it was 33 degrees on the start line. Tom was the best of the Irish lads in the short test clocking 2 minutes flat for the course and 24th overall with Matthew next at 2 seconds further back in 30th place. The Austrian national T.T. champion Tim Wafler blasted around the course in a time of 1 minute 54 seconds to win the prologue and take the first leaders Green jersey. That was an average speed of 50 kmh.
Stage 1 was a 65 km stage with 2 third category climbs and 1 first category climb 6 km before the finish. On the first k.o.h ( King of the hills) 2 riders broke clear Marco Brenner Germany and a Dutch rider Koert Van Oosten Cervelo Goodzo Development Team. Matthew, Keith and Cathal were in a small group of 20 riders chasing the 12 with the other Irish riders in what was left of the main group. Cathal was first of the Irish lads at 3 minutes 30 with Matthew and Keith a further 15 seconds back in the next small group. With the other lads in various groups further back the field. Stage 2 started in Pollau and finished in Anger. The stage was 70.8km long with the last climb coming with only 6.8km to go. The race split on the 2nd climb with about 50 riders making the selection Matthew, Keith and Sean were in there with the other lads in the next group at about 1 minute. On the final climb the race was to blow apart with Matthew making the selection of 10 riders going over the top of the climb. With the leader having punctured on the last climb the Belgian team put the pressure on so the pace was high on the fast run in. Matthew was feeling good and attacked as they hit the 3km to go and brought about 6 riders with him and the move looked promising but they were caught just going under the 1km to go banner. This set it up for a sprint, Matthew having ridden so hard was just happy to finish in the front group with the Belgian national champion Siebe Deweirdt winning the stage.
Stage 3 (75.5km) was from Miesenbach to Vorau and this was to be the Queen stage of the race meaning the hardest. The Irish lads were well up at the front from the start so all made it to the bottom of the first 2nd cat. Climb. This is where the race started to splinter with 8 riders going clear. They were followed by 20 guys at 20 seconds with Matthew making it into this group with Sean in the next 20 man group at another 20 seconds. The rest of the lads were with what was left of the main group a further minute back. The first two groups merged on the decent and caught the riders out front with the German team controlling the peloton again. The race stayed together until 20km to go when an Austrian and a German rider attacked they pulled out a gap very quickly. Matthew sensing this might be a good move attacked after them as there seem to be a stall in the small main field with less than 40 riders left in the group. The two up front had managed to build a lead of 50 seconds on the main field with Matthew at 25 seconds behind the two leaders. As the two leaders approached the finishing lap in Vorau they encountered a very steep 3rd cat climb called the wall of Vorau, this was 500 metres at 9% which was very tough with 65km in the legs already.
The two leaders came together to the top of the climb followed by a green jersey just behind which was Matthew. This sent the Irish families which had travelled in support wild with excitement in front of the large local crowd that had gathered at the hill side finishing area. Matthew had closed the gap to 12 seconds with the main field at another 30 seconds. As they approached the last 1st cat, climb the leader came under pressure with the Belgian team attacking causing what was left of the main field to explode with riders scattered all over the mountain. They were to catch Matthew at 1km from the top of the climb with the other two leaders just 5 seconds ahead of him. Having given his all Matthew could not respond to them and sat up to be mopped up by the remaining chasers. The Irish rider had given his all to try and get a top placing but it was not to be, but a great showing from him in this very prestigious race in the queen stage. The stage was won by the Slovakian Martin Svrcek. Matthew rolled in 30th but happy with his day.
Stage 4 The final stage was from Weiz to Passail this stage of 64.6km. This race was very fast from the start with riders being dropped before they even hit the first 3rd cat. climb at 24km from the start. Once again the German team was controlling the race with high speed riding. As they started the 2nd cat climb the Belgian team drove the pace causing splits everywhere. They forced a move clear with only 8 riders in it 3 Belgian's 2 Swiss 1 Dutch and 2 Germans with one of them being the leader. Matthew and Sean were in the next group of 15 riders at 20 seconds. This was the way it was to remain until the finish with the Belgian Seibe Deweirdt winning the stage from his team mate Jelle Declerck with Fabio Christian Switzerland 3rd. The race leader Marco Brenner crossed the line in 8th position and was crowned overall winner. Matthew crossed the line in 24th and finished 25th overall which was a fantastic result in a field full of high quality riders and his first international Race in an Irish jersey.