Last week, Michael Hall got the opportunity to compete in the Junior Tour of Ireland, guesting for the Swinnerton Cycles team. This was a big target for Michael and he recounts his experience…
“Originally I went into the race with the intention to win the KOM jersey, due to the fact that the first stage – a short TT – didn’t favour me too well so I wouldn’t be able to go for a good position overall. I managed to finish 23rd which I was fairly pleased with.
“On the second stage, I picked up some good points in the KOM competition and was lying second. I then punctured with about 5km to go but somehow I managed to get back onto the group and finish on the same time as the winner.
“I wasn’t feeling too well for the third stage and was unable to get any points which opened the gap to 1st and put me down to 3rd. I came away with 10th on the stage though, so that was pretty good.
“On the fourth stage, a break went and I missed it so all the points were cleaned up and I wasn’t able to get any. This is definitely a lesson I’ve learnt for future!
“The fifth stage featured a brutal summit finish and I was too far down in the KOM competition so my coach told me to just try to gain some time on GC. I finished sixth but, for some reason, the time gaps – which were pretty substantial – weren’t recorded.
“I went into the final stage in 13th position on GC. My main aim for the stage was to get round without crashing and without losing any time to breakaways. I did that and also managed to sprint to third on the stage. I wouldn’t really call myself a sprinter so I didn’t expect to bag a podium position on the stage.
“Overall, I finished 13th which was slightly disappointing to be outside the top 10 but that’s that. I also managed to finish 5th in the KOM competition and 6th in the Points competition.
“All in all, it was a great week and I learnt a lot about my abilities and the way I need to adapt my racing in future. I’d like to say a massive thank you to Swinnerton Cycles for allowing me to guest, to my teammates Joe and Louis for their company, and to the race organisation for such a great event.
“Feeling very excited for the rest of the season!”
Photos: Stephen McMahon (Sportsfile)