SAINT PIRAN WIN THE VICTUS TOUR OF ULSTER
SAINT PIRAN RETURN HOME FROM NORTHERN IRELAND HAVING BEEN CROWNED VICTORS OF THE PRESTIGIOUS TOUR OF ULSTER. JOE EVANS WON THE GC AND THE TEAM ALSO SCOOPED THE OVERALL PRIZE.
Saint Piran, the county’s first elite cycling team, left Cornwall on Thursday last week to compete in Northern Ireland’s toughest and most prestigious stage race, The Tour of Ulster, attracting teams from across Europe. This would be the their first race overseas, and it’s fair to say Saint Piran are now internationally recognised as a force to be reckoned with.
The three day tour included many of Northern Ireland’s most challenging roads, including a stage through the Mourne Mountains with gradients exceeding 25%.
On day one of the race, after a gruelling 115miles, Saint Piran finished with three riders in the top ten, including a third place podium finish for Will Harper and a KOH jersey for Cam Jeffers. This outstanding result left Saint Piran with more cards to play in the remaining two stages than any other team.
Stage two, the hilliest of all, was to be decisive. After a nerve racking opening 50 miles where Saint Piran appeared to be on the back-foot, Jake Alderman and Cam Jeffers rode courageously to chase down a breakaway group of riders, setting up teammate Joe Evans for a punishing attack. Joe showed his class and strength by breaking free of the main field with 45 miles of racing remaining. Evans, who was previously contracted with Madison Genesis pro team, gave everything he had on the rolling run in back to Newry, finishing the stage in third place. But crucially, in doing so securing the overall leaders jersey based on a combined time of stage one and two.
Saint Piran, the small but close-knit team of Cornish cycling talent, were on the cusp of cementing one of the county’s most impressive sporting victories in recent years. With one stage of the tour remaining, they had the leaders jersey, and had hatched a plan to defend it with their lives.
The final stage was a ‘Kermesse’ style circuit of 70 miles with multiple short sharp hills. Saint Piran were attacked from all angles and by all teams, in an attempt to distance the Cornish riders and therefore force the leader’s jersey from them. However Saint Piran were too strong for their opponents, closing down attacks ferociously and controlling the race to perfection. They kept Evans, who wore the pink leader’s jersey, at the front of the race and out of trouble all day, skilfully guiding him through a number of big crashes that could have put an end to their bid for glory.
In the final 3 miles, racing towards the finish line at speeds of over 50mph at times, Saint Piran were seen right at the head of the race driving the pace higher and higher, distancing many of their rivals. As was noted by the commentators, this was an “exceptional show of dominance” by the young Cornish team.
At the finish, all Saint Piran riders crossed the line in the lead group, securing Cornwall’s first ever overseas victory in an elite cycling race! Saint Piran not only won the overall prize through Joe Evans, but also the team prize and the best young rider prize [again through Evans]. This was a clean sweep and a show of utter physical and tactical superiority.
Riders, managers and fans alike were approaching Saint Piran at the post-race prize giving and congratulating them on their courageous and aggressive style of racing. Saint Piran’s performance in the Tour of Ulster has put Cornish cycling well and truly on the map!