Two teams represented Ulster in the international Youth Tour of Scotland last weekend. The event had a field of 156 riders from six different countries with Ulster represented in the girls event by Aliyah Rafferty, Aisha Gannon and Aoibhínn Sharkey and in the boys event by Karl Rockett, Daniel Scott, Peter Quigley and Donnchadh Roarty.  

The Cycling Ulster squad had solid performances throughout the weekend with Rafferty consistently in the main bunch and inside the top half of the field. Scott led the challenge in the boys event for Ulster again finishing inside the top half of participants.  

Commenting on the weekend, the Cycling Ulster Youth Academy representative said: 

“Taking part in a major event like the Youth Tour of Scotland is a major undertaking and I want to thank everyone involved in helping us take part including the Cycling Ulster Executive, Gus Commercials, Scottish Cycling and those who travelled in support of the squad, Liz Quigley, Gary Rafferty and John Scott.  
“We arrived at the event HQ which is Strathallan School in the Scottish Highlands late on Friday night. Once we got checked in, the team managers had to attend a team briefing for the event, the riders then got checked into their accommodation block. 

“This event consisted of four stages plus a prologue to get the weekend started. Saturday started very early for the managers to get the equipment setup, getting the riders bikes ready, making sure we had everything in place for the days racing ahead, the early morning starts were to continue for the whole event. 

“Stage one proper was on an undulating course with a very fast decent down to the finish line. The girls completed 5 laps of a 6.5 kms lap and the boys had 9 laps. All the riders completed both events and all rode well. 

“The weather on Sunday was due to change with heavy rain forecast, luckily the rain stayed away for the TTT. Stage 3 for the girls consisted of 5 laps again of a rolling course, not as hilly as Saturdays course but very fast, they missed the rain, but unfortunately for the boys race the rain started, this resulted in a very treacherous course and many crashes happened, unfortunately one of our riders was caught in one of the crashes and was not able to complete the stage. 

“The final day saw the kermesse with the three flat bits, with a very steep climb, again the weather forecast was for rain, but luckily it never developed, which lead to some very exciting racing with both teams.  

“Girls had 10 laps and boys had 16 laps to complete. In both races the pace at the front was relentless with the peloton splitting very early on which result in many small groups being formed which some riders took advantage of. 

“It’s great to take part in such a prestigious event which enables our riders to take part in race which is a very high standard.” 

Cycling Ulster Chairperson Tommy McCague said: 

“On behalf of the Cycling Ulster Executive I want to congratulate all of the riders and the helpers who represented the province in the Youth Tour of Scotland last weekend.  

“Taking part in this event requires a lot of preparation and I know the Youth Academy have been working on it for several months. 

“We are grateful for the continued support of our sponsors which enables us to take part in events such as this including O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors and Donnelly Group.

“It was also fantastic to have Ulster represented on the Irish national team by Áine Doherty, Lucy Brown, Zoe Lindsay, Sam Coleman and Seth Dunwoody.”

The riders on the Ulster squad submitted their thoughts on the weekend below. 

I really enjoyed my weekend away at the YTOS 2022. I had great fun racing, got lots of experience and made good friends. I’d like to thank cycling Ulster for giving me this great opportunity. (Aoibhinn Sharkey)

It was a very good experience with the ulster team racing against the best riders in the UK. Thanks to all who helped throughout the weekend. (Karl Rockett)

This weekend was a good experience and has given me an idea on what to work on, the early mornings were not nice, the people were very friendly. (Daniel Scott)

I had such a good time at the Youth Tour of Scotland and learnt so much. It was great to race against all the best riders in the UK. Thank you to Cycling Ulster for giving us the opportunity. (Aliyah Rafferty)

Unreal experience for the first time racing in the UK it was very impressive seeing the standard of cyclists and the level of competition and hope to get back next time and thanks to the academy for the support. (Peter Quigley)

I had a great time racing in the Youth Tour of Scotland. I met loads of new people and learnt so much and it was an experience to ride in such a large group of riders and I loved the hill in the last stage. (Aisha Gannon)

I would like to thank the Cycling Ulster Youth Academy and the top-class management team along with John the team mechanic for the fantastic experience I got racing against some of the best under 16 competitors in the UK and I  learned many valuable lessons, who knew electrical tape was a good as boa dials, I also made many friends at the race, it has opened my eyes to what racing against such quality riders is like. It was a great experience. (Donnchadh Roarty)