Hayden Stevens to ride in European Junior Tour

Hayden Stevens, pictured at the Hunter Junior Tour last year, is headed for the European Junior Tour in July.

Hayden Stevens, pictured at the Hunter Junior Tour last year, is headed for the European Junior Tour in July.

Merimbula cyclist Hayden Stevens is preparing for the European Junior Tour.

Hosted in Assen, Holland, the European Junior Tour is essentially the Tour de France for anyone under 18 with six days of competition through the scenic roads of the Netherlands.

Set to run in July, registrations opened last week and proud Dad Darren Stevens said it was a bit of a race in its own right.

"You're sitting there with the registrations open going 'refresh, refresh," Darren said with a laugh, saying Hayden's age class filled in just two minutes. "by 10.02am his category was full and within five minutes there were 700 registrations."

Based out of Merimbula, Hayden remains a member of the Canberra club and it's where he does a lot of his road and velodrome racing and it was there the family learned of the tour.

"We've been aware of it for a couple of years and some of the kids he rides with have gone over and competed."

Max Lundy and Oscar Chamberlain have age victories to their name and Hayden is now hungry to compete and hopefully match them.

Hayden, 12, has really thrown effort towards the July event and Darren said it was incredible to see the commitment and determination of his son.

He rode more than 4000 kilometres in 2019 and is now learning Dutch for the trip as well as stepping up his training even further.

"In the last 12 months he's been learning Dutch on his iPad," Darren said. "I asked him 'what are you learning Dutch for?' and he said 'well I've got to know all the right words to say to them when I'm racing,'" Darren said.

Darren said Hayden's grandfather was Dutch and the racer was eager to visit his family heritage and compete on the historic European streets.

"But they moved to Australia when Dad was 10 so he's been no help with the Dutch lessons," he said with a laugh.

"Hayden also knows some of the roads have cobblestones so he wants practice."

The training now is almost 150ks a week on the bike, but Darren said Hayden was pushing his 'Functional Threshold Performance' and was keen to ramp up to nearly 250ks a week.

"He's gone into Year 7 and we're talking to the High School about when PE is on that he can do his cycling," Darren said.

Hayden will contest a number of velodrome events and road race championships in the lead up to the Junior Tour including the National Junior Track Series in Melbourne before the State Titles in Sydney and potentially a ride in the nationals at Brisbane.

Hayden will also race the Sydney Junior Tour.

Unfortunately, the trip will also come with a huge price tag and the family have set up a GoFundMe page to try and help cover the costs.

If you would like to help you can donate at www.gofundme.com/f/hayden-european-junior-cycling-tour-2020