A week out from the British National Road Championships, 2021 under-23 national road race champion Josie Nelson looks in great shape to take the crown once again after beating a strong field in a reduced bunch finish at the women’s CiCLE Classic – round 2 of the women’s National Road Series.
Dry, mild conditions greeted the 107 starters as they lined up in Melton before the race, but the previous days rain meant that damp and slippery conditions awaited the riders out on the race’s off-road sectors, adding an extra dimension to the challenge ahead.
At the first passage of Owston – the ‘gateway’ to the sectors – the race was all together, led by National Road Series leader Becky Storrie (CAMS-Basso).
The wearing down process then began in earnest, with Eluned King (Le Col-Wahoo) and Jo Tindley (Pro-Noctis – Rotor – RedchilliBikes by Heidi Kjeldsen) particularly active. Indeed, King won two of the three Queen of the Bergs sprints – at Cold Overton and Cuckoo Hill – as she sought to push things on, earning her the Queen of the Bergs prize in the process.
Another surge by King on the Somerberg took a group of around 15 riders clear before the fourth passage of Owston, ahead of a chasing group that contained Storrie among others. King’s group pulled around ten seconds before the race came back together on the run back into Melton.
King was once again at the front as the reduced bunch of around 35 riders hit Melton, winning herself the race’s famous giant pork prize, before beginning the 15-kilometre finishing circuit.
The race stayed together in the frantic closing stages, teeing things up for an incredibly close sprint finish. Seven riders fanned across the front of the bunch as they hurtled along the finishing straight on Sherrard Street, with Nelson timing her sprint perfectly to take the win. Nelson’s victory emulates her sister Emily, who won the race in 2019.
Nelson said: “This race is one of the closest races you can get to cyclocross so it's really nice. I've always felt quite confident on the sectors.”
King added: “It was actually a really fun race. I really love this race. I've done it twice, so I did it as first year junior, and then last year as a first year under 23. I just really wanted to come here and race hard. I love racing in the UK as well, and then before nationals next week, it's a good hit out.”
First-year senior Maddie Leech (CAMS-Basso) was second, with King completing a strong race in third. One of the stars of the Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series, Emma Jeffers (JRC-INTERFLON Race Team), was the top-placed junior in fifth place. Jeffers was one of three juniors in the top ten – Awen Roberts (Liv Cycling Club – Halo Films) was sixth and Grace Lister (Brother UK-Orientation Marketing) was ninth.
Alice McWilliam takes over as the individual National Road Series leader with a fine fourth, backing up her second place at the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix. She has a 16-point lead over Brother UK-Orientation Marketing’s Jessie Carridge, while round one leader Becky Storrie (CAMS-Basso) drops to third place, equal on points with Nelson.
A strong team performance from CAMS-Basso means they now enjoy a 59-point lead over second-placed Bianchi HUNT Morvélo in the team standings. Team Boompods and Brother UK-Orientation Marketing are joint third, 6 points back from Bianchi HUNT Morvélo.
The next round of the National Road Series is the Stockton Grand Prix on 3 July.