Teenage cycling sensation Toby Barnes claimed the best result of his road career with an overall second place in the prestigious Tour of Sussex while ‘guesting’ for the Shropshire-based Holohan Coaching Race Team.
Barnes, 18, an extremely talented cyclo-cross rider, was part of a strong four-man Holohan team, joining Chris Pook, Matthew Davies and Danny Smith in the five-stage event while ‘on loan’ from RST/Cycle Division.
The teenager recorded two second places and a third during the stages around West and East Sussex, finishing an impressive second overall after four days of competition.
Chris Pook, of Shrewsbury-based estate agents Cooper Green Pooks, who also manages and sponsors the team with Ben Lawrence, of independent chartered insurance brokers Beaumont Lawrence, said: “Toby has recently started pursuing his goals in road racing.
“As a team, we try to give opportunities to deserving young riders every year and this was a superb chance for him to show how far he has progressed in a very short period of time and to also gain some very valuable stage racing experience.
“Stage One was a ‘hot dog’ criterium, which particularly suited myself and Toby. Once we had worked our way to the front we were able to start controlling the race and Toby escaped in a two-man break with eventual overall winner Dan Gardiner, an elite rider who mainly races in Belgium but has competed in the elite men’s Team Time Trial World Championships in previous years.”
Mr Pook said the next stage was a team time trial on a challenging course on the coast, taking in the climb of Beachy Head.
He said: “The team finished ninth overall, which we were disappointed with, but there were only a handful of seconds covering most of the top 10, so all was still to play for.
“Stage Three was an evening hill climb up Ditchling Beacon. Danny and Toby were most suited to this effort and both did well with Toby particularly impressive by taking a fine third place, just a few seconds off the win.
“The penultimate stage was a road race on a rolling course that really suited me and I was able to infiltrate an early break away and helped to drive it on over the next 100km to ensure it stayed away, ending up with a pleasing second place behind former elite rider Steve Calland, who knows a thing or two about winning bike races having won over 150 in his long career!”
Mr Pook said Stage Five was a road race on a very hilly course featuring 10 ascents of the brutally steep ‘Kidd’s Hill’.
He said: “This course was very suited to Toby, who had fine support from Danny Smith. Danny infiltrated the break away which at one point had a two minute lead and Toby managed to finish second on the stage and second overall to take the best result of his road career to date – which has already featured two road wins in West Midlands regional races.”
Holohan racing team is mentored and coached by former UCI professional Liam Holohan. For more information about the team, see their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/holohancoachingrt