Elizabeth Banks made it two wins in as many weekends with a sprint victory in the opening HSBC UK | National Women’s Road Series event of the season, the Tour of the Wolds.
The SunSport Velo rider was one of six riders to get in the day’s break on the run off the Wolds and back into Louth, and she took full advantage to sprint away from Drops Cycling’s Anna Christian in the home straight – adding to her victory at the Capernway Road Race, last weekend.
Christian took second with Storey Racing’s Chanel Mason crossing the line third as Team Ford Ecoboost’s Nikki Juniper, a fellow escapee, crashed on the final lap of four through Louth.
After an extended neutralised zone in which there was a mechanical issue, the racing finally got under way and the rolling terrain soon took its toll.
Before the riders had even got to the Caistor Loop there were individuals being shot out of the back of the peloton.
Individuals soon became groups as the front bunch was reduced from 95 at the start of the day to just 35, with a number of smaller groups forming the chasing pack.
As the riders hit the Caistor Loop the pace was a frenetic 65kph, with the average speed for the first hour’s racing being clocked at 41.5kph.
All that meant was a long line at the head of the field, with little chance for breaks to escape as the pace was kept high.
Coming round the loop and through Nettleton the pace eased somewhat and a six-strong breakaway escaped with representation from some of the strongest teams in the race.
Christian, Juniper, Mason and Banks were joined by a duo from Team WNT in the form of Hayley Simmonds and Natalie Grinczer.
The group quickly established a minute’s lead over the chasing pack, which stretched out to 70 seconds as the front six approached Louth and the finishing circuit.
When the time gap was relayed to the group and shout of ’20 more seconds’ went up from Christian, knowing that were they to be 90s clear by the time the group reached the finishing circuit, the peloton would be eliminated.
The news was also relayed to the peloton, though, and the gap held firm at around a minute when they crossed the start-finish line to signal the start of the four closing laps around Louth.
They ticked down in rapid fashion and try as they might the peloton never got closer than within 40s of the leading sextet.
All that was left was for Banks to take the sprint, leaving Christian and Mason trailing in a distant second and third, and the early lead in the overall HSBC UK | National Women’s Road Series standings.