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Holohan Coaching Race Team celebrating success in Italy
24 Jun 2019
by Rebecca Dutton

A Shropshire based cycling team is celebrating after achieving excellent results in a multi day amateur event in Europe.

Holohan Coaching Race Team, which is mentored and coached by former UCI professional Liam Holohan, has just returned from the Haute Route Dolomites – a three-day competitive event, featuring more than 250km of racing and over 8,000 metres of climbing in the mountains surrounding Cortina in the Italian Dolomites.

The course included iconic climbs such as the towering Passo Giau and Passo Pordoi and saw all members of the team finish in the top 25, out of almost 400 competitors.

Mr Holohan organised the trip through his Holohan Coaching Pro Cycling Experience business.

This involved driving out to the event location with riders’ bikes and kit to prepare everything in advance so the riders could fly out with minimal hassle.

Chris Pook, of Shrewsbury-based estate agents Cooper Green Pooks, who took part in the race and manages and sponsors the team with Ben Lawrence, of independent chartered insurance brokers Beaumont Lawrence, said: “Liam had carefully reconnoitred the course before the event and briefed the riders about what was in store.

“He supported the riders each day by being present at strategic points to ensure there was food and drink when required.”

Team sponsor Bryan Davies, owner of Unvented Components Europe, took part in the ‘compact’ version, which involved less climbing and distance than the full route, and surprised himself by taking second place overall.

Kirk Vickers, 25, from near Ellesmere, Chris Pook, 36, from Shrewsbury, his brother, Tom Pook, 31, from Shrewsbury, and Matt Davies, 36, of Minsterley, took park in the full distance, which concluded with a 17km time trial up to Passo Giau to 2,220 metres on the final stage.

Mr Lawrence said: “All four rode superbly with Matt making his come back to racing after almost nine months recovering and getting fit again after a nasty accident last August. He eventually finished 12th overall but knows there is plenty more left in the tank!”

Mr Vickers took 11th overall and fifth in the final time trial, while Tom Pook and Chris Pook were 21st and 24th overall respectively out of a total field of 400.

“It was a great overall team result,” said Mr Lawrence. “I am very proud of them all.”

The team has also been successful in other recent races.

At the West Midlands Elite Divisional Championships, held near Swynnerton, Staffordshire, on June 2, Ollie Hayward, 23, of Ludlow, took a podium spot, coming in third place. Holohan Coaching Race Team celebrated with five riders in the top 15.

The course was a 165km road race on a rolling course, which saw Chris Pook, Kirk Vickers and Ollie Hayward get into a 10 man breakaway for over 150km.

Mr Lawrence said: “A group of nine riders came across two thirds of the way through, which included Madison Genesis pro Mike Cumming and Team Wiggins rider Ben Healy.

“In the eight, there were also the remaining three Holohan Coaching Race Team riders, Chris Childs, Danny Smith and Matthew Garthwaite, meaning that Holohan Coaching Race Team had six riders at the front of the race with 30km remaining.

“We started ‘playing our cards’ with Chris Pook, Ollie Hayward and Matthew Garthwaite particularly active and clearly still with good legs. Ollie Hayward eventually escaped with two others, who managed to hold off the remaining 16 until the finish, securing Ollie a superb third place.

“Behind, Chris Pook was racing aggressively to get away solo for fourth but was swept up in the final couple of kilometres, leaving it to Matt Garthwaite to sprint successfully and take fifth place with Danny Smith, Chris Childs and Chris Pook also finishing in the top 15.”

The team hosted a round of the West Midlands League at Sheinton, near Cressage at the end of May.

Named ‘The Rocket Road Race’ after co-promoter and former two time National Champion Steve Joughin (whose nickname as a pro was The Pocket Rocket), it saw riders take on six laps of a hilly course taking in part of Wenlock Edge.

The winner was Toby Barnes from RST/Cycle Division. Holohan Coaching Race Team’s Danny Smith came in eighth place while Chris Childs took 10th spot.

Brothers Chris and Tom Pook took 19th and 20th place respectively.

Mr Pook said: “It was a tough course and we want to thank everyone who participated. We couldn’t do it without all the marshals, drivers, commissaires and, of course, the riders. It was a great day.”

For more information about the team, see their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/holohancoachingrt