Published: 24 June 2018
Written by: Sportsbeat
Great Britain international Sophie Wright took control of the HSBC UK | Women’s Road Series with a stirring victory on day two of the Tour of the Reservoir.
The 19-year-old, who became Great Britain’s first-ever junior female European mountain bike champion in 2016, is also proving a dab hand on the roads.
She won the second stanza of a two-day spectacular in the north east in a time of 3:24.59 and simultaneously elevated herself to the top of the series standings.
The battle for supremacy raged fiercely from the off, with Fiona Hunter Johnston, of Fusion RT, and Team OnForm’s Charmaine Porter the first to attempt to steal a march before they were quickly reeled back in by the main group.
Decorated Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey led the peloton down the descent but it was Team Breeze’s Rhona Callander who moved ahead of the pack, with Jess Finney and Leah Dixon, of Team OnForm, and Boompods EDCO NRG's Hannah Larbalestier in hot pursuit.
An almighy tussle
Eventually, a leading group of five formed, made up of Callander, Illi Gardner, Jen Holden, Ellie Dickinson and Ellen McDermott, and they enjoyed an advantage of 38 seconds heading into the first lap of the gruelling Blanchland circuit.
Teenager Gardner, of Team YRDP, began to pull away, with UHC Pro Cycling’s Lizzy Banks leading the chase on the big climb, and soon afterwards, two large chasing groups had formed.
Gardner was eventually hauled back in by the chasing group and no less than nine riders – including Wright – became involved in a leading group fighting tooth and nail for an advantage.
Behind them, Storey, who had earlier fallen well away, began to recover and fought her way back into the peloton.
Timing is everything
With 48.3 miles done and dusted, competitors headed back onto the reservoir circuit for two final laps and, aside from Melissa Lowther, a raft of riders from Storey Racing Team dropped back to attempt to thrust Storey, the pink jersey incumbent, into contention.
There were few clues as to who would come out on top heading into the final lap and, as the race entered its final throes, Wright went on the offensive.
The teenage Great Britain ace had timed it perfectly and raced over the line to claim victory, Lowther taking second and Anna Henderson, of Team OnForm, third.