National road race champion Jess Roberts pounced at the right time to rule the roost at the Stockton Grand Prix.
Earlier in the 2018 Stockton Cycling Festival, the 19-year-old had finished third in the HSBC UK | National Circuit Championships and she rounded off her north east campaign with victory in round five of HSBC UK | Women’s Road Series.
In addition, Roberts’ teammate Megan Barker closely followed her over the line, helping move Team Breeze up to second in the team standings, just eight points behind Storey Racing.
A cat and mouse game
The race proved a slow-burning affair, with the field remaining bunched up during the early laps of the main circuit just outside Stockton-on-Tees town cente.
A number of riders chanced their arm in a bid to build an advantage early on but were routinely hauled back in by the main group.
It took until the fourth of six main circuit laps for a significant breakaway, with Team OnForm’s Charmaine Porter and Rebecca Raybould stealing a march.
They became part of a leading group that had split from the peloton, eventually enjoying a nine-second advantage, but by the final lap of the main circuit, that advantage had dissipated.
Rhona Callander – winner of round four of the HSBC UK | Women’s Road Series in Otley earlier this month – and Team Breeze’s Georgina Panchaud were the next to go clear.
The former set the quicker pace, with Panchaud eventually falling back into the main group, but Callander’s solo lead didn’t last long as the field bunched back together heading onto the riverside circuit.
Roberts emerges from the pack
A winding path back and forth across the River Tees proved a challenge for tired legs but failed to splinter competitors significantly.
In the end, it was Roberts who shone when the chips were down, crossing the line first ahead of Barker and Team OnForm’s Anna Henderson.
That result leaves Roberts fourth in the individual standings, cutting the gap on third-placed Henderson to just a single point.