Clarion cyclists savour ‘Tour de France’ experience in Ireland

West Lothian Clarion's Alex Ball and George Freeman were in action at the Errigal International Youth Tour in Donegal
West Lothian Clarion's Alex Ball and George Freeman were in action at the Errigal International Youth Tour in Donegal

West Lothian Clarion duo Alex Ball and George Freeman put in strong performances at an international event in Ireland last weekend.

The four-stage Errigal International Youth Tour was run over hilly terrain on open roads in Donegal and, in addition to a Scottish contingent, attracted teams from Ireland, England and Malta.

George Freeman in action on the roads of Donegal

George Freeman in action on the roads of Donegal

In a large field, Alex managed to finish 15th in the General Classification – just over a minute off the leader after four hours of racing – and George achieved 52nd.

Alex had a good first stage to finish 13th on hilly terrain and a great time trial on stage two.

He said: “On the first stage, I battled to stay near the front of the bunch and felt good on climbs and did well in sprint. It felt like a proper race, like the Tour de France.”

George got stronger as the weekend progressed and they both rode really well in the final crit, which was fast and furious. There were a number of crashes on this stage and riders had to be careful to position themselves well.

Alex Ball keeps a close eye on his rivals

Alex Ball keeps a close eye on his rivals

George said: “I enjoyed the last stage. I felt stronger as the race went on.

“Alex and I stayed in the front, so we were always on the right side of any splits. Going into the last corner, a rider slid out in front of me and I went straight into him and hit the deck.

“I jumped back on after extracting my bike from a tangle and finished on the same time as the leaders.”

Alex added: “I had a good tour. I learned more about stage racing and exceeded my expectations with my result.”

And George agreed, saying: “I learned more about road racing in a bunch, experienced competing against people from different countries and worked on how to recover between stages.”

Club coach Matt Ball said “The lads rode well, but also rested and ate properly so they were fresh for the next stage.

“Both have developed well over the year which is what it’s all about at this age.”