CYCLING: SIBLING cycling starlets enjoyed rollercoaster rides on their debuts in the Isle of Man Youth Tour.
Laura Allen and brother Joe came through the eventful three-day series to finish second and ninth respectively.
Nearly 70 riders from across the UK took part in the tour, sponsored by Sleepwell Hotels and the Manx Tourist Board.
Abesco and Cruden Construction, sponsors of their club, New Brighton CC, enabled 13-year-old Joe and Laura, 10, to make the trip.
Stage one was on closed roads at Port Soderick, where Laura, in the event for U10 boys and U12 girls, competed over one lap of 4km.
The course included a one-in-eight climb and a long, straight descent on an otherwise twisting and undulating circuit.
Laura and Josh Cowie of TSP soon opened a clear gap on the rest.
The Widnes girl slightly lost touch at the top but made up for lost time by reaching 39.5mph on descent.
But Laura finished five seconds down on Cowie, who also picked up a three-second bonus as stage winner.
Joe, competing over four laps in the U14s, twice had to take evasive action in his race and, despite clocking more than 40mph downhill, lost touch with the leaders.
He finished ninth and always knew the lost time would be impossible to make up.
The second and third stages were held at the National Sports Centre in Douglas.
Laura, uncharacteristically, lost out in the 1km time trial to Cowie, who added two seconds to his lead.
Joe, like his sister feeling the effects of the previous day's efforts, came in 13th.
However, Laura's determination came to the fore in stage three - a 4km flat circuit race.
She showed immaculate timing to break away from two rivals, an explosion of power bringing her a three-second victory over Cowie.
Joe's group covered five times the distance and he finished a fine sixth despite being struck by a bike on lap two.
He had worked consistently hard at the front of the leading 16-strong bunch to stay in contention throughout.
The final stage was on the west of the island at Ballaugh, again on closed roads. A flat terrain made for a close race, with Laura needing to take two seconds out of Cowie to be crowned champion.
But the race leader exploited his position by 'sitting in' on Laura's wheel throughout. In a spirited 100m sprint to the finish, with the two cycles almost touching, Cowie sneaked home.
In finishing second overall, Laura won a small trophy and more than £20 in prizemoney. In his 20km race, Joe was well-placed but lost out at the final corner. Although again losing time, he finished ninth overall.
Joe and Laura hope their continued success will lead to further sponsorship from Halton Sports Development, who enabled six budding cyclists to attend schools coaching at Manchester Velodrome.
Laura was joined by Jack Owens, a fellow pupil at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.