A Shropshire cycling team has ended its season in style by achieving excellent results at two major racing events in the UK and Spain.
Holohan Coaching Race Team saw top results in both the team and individual classification at the British National Hill Climb Championships and also in the overall classification of the Vuelta Majorca Masters stage race.
The National Hill Climb Championship took place on the climb of Haytor in Devon on Sunday (Oct. 27).
Team rider Kirk Vickers took sixth overall against a very high class field, including full-time professional riders.
Coach and team rider Liam Holohan also took part along with Ollie Hayward, of Ludlow, and the team placed second overall.
Chris Pook, of Shrewsbury-based estate agents Cooper Green Pooks, who manages and sponsors the team with Ben Lawrence, of independent chartered insurance brokers Beaumont Lawrence, said: “Kirk has based the last few months of his training around producing one flat out 12 minute effort.
“Between the three riders, their combined time was good enough for second overall team; a fine way to end what has been a great season overall.”
In the Vuelta Majorca Masters, from October 15 to 18, a strong, experienced team of three competed with the goal for overall win.
Mr Holohan, who runs Holohan Coaching in Shrewsbury, secured an overall third place on the podium after strong work from team mates Matthew Davies, 37, from Minsterley and Mr Pook, 36, from Shrewsbury.
The race is held over varying terrain on four separate stages in different parts of the island.
Mr Pook said Stage One saw some very aggressive racing from the start.
He said “Eventually Matthew Davies managed to get in a strong 10 rider breakaway that took almost two minutes on the bunch by the finish line.
“This would have a major impact on the shape of the race and Liam would have his work cut out to get his ambitions back on track!”
During Stage Two, Mr Pook managed to get up the road in a five man breakaway.
He said: “Racing at speeds in excess of 26 miles per hour in 28 degrees centigrade heat takes its toll, but this break looked like it would go all the way to the finish.
“Our plan was to wait for Liam to ‘bridge’ across and then I would turn up the wick and ride flat out to try and get some time back for Liam on the main contenders who were still in the bunch.
“Liam’s successful ‘bridge’ created wide-spread panic in the bunch, as Liam was a heavily marked rider. It caused one of the strongest teams to react and chase, in doing so bringing back one of their own (very unhappy!) team mates. From that moment, it was clear who Liam was racing for the yellow jersey as the other main protagonists had to show their hand.”
Stage Three of the event was an individual time trial, which saw Liam score a podium finish and lose only a handful of seconds to real specialists in the discipline.
The final stage, or ‘Queen Stage’, was a 105km race that included the ascent, via Caimari, of Lluc – a famous 20 minute long climb in the island.
Mr Pook’s role was to drive it hard at the base to whittle down the 80 rider peloton to a handful of riders so that Mr Holohan could attack hard and get to work on trying to take back the two minute deficit on some of the other contenders that remained from Stage One.
Mr Pook was able to whittle the group to less than 10 riders after five minutes of flat out ‘pulling’ on the lower hairpins.
He said: “By the summit, Liam was solo with a 1.5 minute advantage over the leader wearing the yellow jersey. He extended this a little further on the descent, but unfortunately couldn’t hang on during the 15km pan flat, arrow straight, run back to the coast.”
Mr Holohan achieved third on that stage and ultimately third in the overall classification, whilst Matthew Davies and Mr Pook finished 13th and 21st respectively having ridden as ‘domestiques’.
“Our riders will now enjoy a few weeks of rest and down time before getting out on the roads come rain or shine over winter and putting in the preparation to do well in 2020,” said Mr Pook.
For more information about the team, see their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/holohancoachingrt