Jess Finney and Jake Scott were crowned the victors in the latest round of the National Road Series on Sunday, as both riders won solo at the Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix, bucking the race’s trend for bunch sprints.
The third round of the Women’s National Road Series started with ease as the two early laps kept the field bunched together.
Corinne Side (Pro-Noctis - Rotor - Redchilli Bikes p/b Heidi Kjeldsen), Storey Racing's Lucy Gadd, ARA Pro RACING Sunshine Coast's Rachael Wales, and Flora Perkins (Le Col-Wahoo) were involved in the first move of the day but it was cut short as they were reabsorbed by the bunch after the feed zone.
A lap later, Perkins was at it again, joined by Emma Edwards (CAMS-Basso) and Robyn Clay (Otley CC) but it didn't stick. A determined attack from Connie Hayes (AWOL O'Shea) followed, but she was also reeled back in.
With breaks failing for the first half of the race, it was a surprise when one finally got away. Heading round the crit-style circuit with long straights and sweeping roundabouts, Jess Finney (CAMS-Basso) broke clear with Hayes’ teammate Frankie Morgans-Slader.
Morgans-Slader only lasted a single lap with Finney as she put down a furious pace to stay ahead.
The CAMS-Basso rider looked as if she might be caught on the second and third laps, but she resisted, and was able to maintain her lead for the rest of the race, crossing the line a full 20 seconds ahead of the pack.
The bunch sprint was won by Millie Couzens (Plantur Pura), with Torelli-Cayman Islands - Scimitar's Lee Boon rounding out the podium.
Finney was delighted with her maiden National Road Series win.
Finney told The British Continental: “I am a bit overwhelmed to be honest.
“A rider went away and I thought it was a good move because it was so fast and attacking, and I thought people were tired, so I just gave it a go, and it stayed! I kept looking behind me round the corners, thinking ‘where are they’? I was shocked [to win].”
In the overall National Road Series, Alice McWilliam (Bianchi Hunt Morvélo) holds on to her series lead after finishing 11th. On 62 points, she has a 20-point advantage on Anna Kay (StarCasino Team), with Finney's win putting her on 38 points, four behind Kay and tied with Emma Jeffers (JRC-Interflon) - the leading junior rider. CAMS-Basso now enjoy at 96-point lead over Team Boompods in the team classification.
An action-packed second round of the Men’s National Road Series saw the riders set a fast pace right from the start.
The first significant move came on the third run through the feed zone at Redmarshall with WiV SunGod moving the majority of its squad to the sharp end of the field, briefly splintering the peloton before the race came back together.
Other riders had a few digs off the front - notably Joe Shillabeer (05/03) and William Truelove’s (Wales Racing Academy) brief burst off the front, but nothing stuck until the seventh lap.
Six riders went on the attack involving Wiv SunGod’s Jake and Rob Scott, Finn Crockett (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling), Callum Thornley (Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli), Joe Wilson (Dolan Ellesse Race Team) and Dan Gardner (Project 51).
The group had just over a minute on the bunch until they got to the liaison section taking the field back into town, where the gap started to be eaten into.
A big move from Ollie Peckover (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) and new national circuit champion Matt Bostock (WiV SunGod) saw them bridge over, while Bostock’s teammate Jim Brown followed to make it four WiV riders in the top seven as Thornley dropped off the pace.
On the run to the finish for the penultimate time, the WiV SunGod riders stepped up the speed, with Brown, Jake and Rob Scott accelerating clear along with local rider Wilson.
Wilson couldn’t keep up though, and on the run across the Princess Alexandra Bridge for the final time, Jake Scott made his race-winning move.
Through the final hairpin, Scott took a handful of seconds over his teammates, and raised his arms aloft as he took the chequered flag.
Rob Scott took second, as he and Brown - who takes over as the new National Road Series leader - casually rolled across the line. Wilson took a well-deserved fourth, while Bostock completed WiV SunGod’s domination by edging Crockett to finish fifth.
Jake Scott said: “[The day was] absolutely perfect. We had a plan in the beginning and we pulled it off.
“You can see in the end how strong we were. We’ve done a 1-2-3 in criterium before but not in National Road Series race.”
In the overall standings, Brown leads by four points from Crockett, while Scott's win has propelled him up to third overall - 35 points in total for him and 11 down on Crockett. WiV SunGod lead the team standings by 61 points over second-placed Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling.
The next round of the men’s and women’s National Road Series is the Lancaster Grand Prix on 17 July.