Sophie Lewis sprinted to glory as Bob Donaldson powered to breakaway victory in the first round of the National Circuit Series at the Otley Grand Prix.
Sophie Lewis (DAS-Handsling) powered to the line in Otley ahead of a select breakaway group in the Santini Women’s Otley Grand Prix, making good use of the form that saw her take fourth place at the National Circuit Championships last week.
The DAS-Handsling rider was one of the of the most visible riders in the race, helping her team to place riders in every move, before seizing her opportunity in the winning move and taking a dominant sprint win from a four-rider breakaway.
The flag dropped and the bunch was cagey, with the riders seeming unwilling to commit too early on what can be a fast and unforgiving circuit. Tentative attacks from Lucy Glover (Shibden Hope Tech Apex), April Tacey (DAS-Handsling), and the new national champion, Megan Barker (Team Inspired), did little to break the tension.
Flora Perkins of Fenix-Deceuninck Development Team finally managed to break clear of the peloton with Monica Greenwood (DAS-Handsling) after 15 minutes. Perkins powered the duo up the main climb of the day while Bexy Dew (Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee) and Glover came across to form a strong quartet at the front of the race.
The four riders quickly set about sharing the workload and the gap grew to ten seconds. However, the chase was led by Hutchinson-Brother UK and, after just a few laps in the lead, the breakaway was brought back into the fold.
Perkins’ teammate, Millie Couzens, countered over the top and set off a flurry of attacks, eventually going clear with Lewis, Cat Ferguson (Shibden Hope Tech Apex), and local rider Robyn Clay (Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee).
With the same teams represented from the earlier breakaway, the pressure was on the teams that missed the move to chase once again, but this time they couldn’t match the firepower up the road. The gap started to grow and eventually reached an almost unassailable 45 seconds with three laps to go, and it was clear that the breakaway would contest the win.
A game of cat and mouse ensued with each rider hoping to reach the finishing straight in the best position. It was Couzens who broke the uneasy truce, launching an attack on the final rise with 600m to go.
The breakaway rocketed down the final descent towards the line, led by Couzens, and they entered the finishing straight four abreast. Lewis proved the strongest of the four riders, opening up a gap of two bike lengths by the time she crossed the line ahead of Ferguson and Clay.
The win means that Lewis leads the National Circuit Series ahead of the Ilkley Women’s Grand Prix on Friday.
Bob Donaldson (TRINITY Racing) attacked from a small breakaway to take a stunning solo victory at the Property Development Group Men’s Otley Grand Prix, taking his first-ever win in the National Circuit Series.
The 21-year-old was active early on, following the early attacks before launching his own at the halfway point. The move eventually saw him go solo on the final lap, holding onto the win by a handful of seconds ahead of a fast-moving bunch.
Ben Chilton (Ribble Collective) was an early aggressor, pushing clear after ten minutes of racing with Sam Culverwell (Dolan Ellesse), David Hird (ROKiT-SRCT), and Will Smith (TRINITY Racing), but the fast pace meant they could only gain a few seconds before being swallowed back up by the peloton.
Not long after, Ollie Wood came to the front in his new national champion’s jersey and piled on the pressure to stretch the bunch into one long line, but he was a marked man.
A hard counter from Harry Birchill (Saint Piran) finally opened up some clear air on the bunch, and he enjoyed a few laps at the front of the race on his own, before a similar short-lived move from Dexter Leeming-Sykes (Wold Top The Edge Pactimo) and George Kimber (Embark Spirit BSS) enjoyed the limelight.
At halfway, just as it seemed nothing would stick, Donaldson jumped clear from the peloton on the main climb of the circuit with a perfectly timed attack, quickly building up a lead of over 15 seconds with 25 minutes of racing left.
After five laps on his own, Donaldson’s teammate Smith and BCC Race Team’s Zak Machin bridged the gap to make a formidable group off the front.
The trio worked well together, but the bunch never let up behind and their small lead was dwindling in the final few laps. With three to go, the gap was only nine seconds and by the time they heard the bell for the final lap, the gap was not much more than five seconds.
With 1km to go, Donaldson attacked hard over the crest of the final climb, pulling away from his breakaway companions. It seemed like impossible odds, but Donaldson carried his speed through the descent and rounded the last corner with enough time to sit up and savour the win.
Matt Fox (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) led in the bunch sprint just three seconds back and Jim Brown (Cross Team Legendre) rounded out the podium in third.
Donaldson’s victory means he leads the National Circuit Series going into the Lister Horsfall Men’s Grand Prix at Ilkley on Friday.
A full list of podium placings is below:
- Sophie Lewis (DAS-Handsling)
- Cat Ferguson (Shidbden Hope Tech Apex)
- Robyn Clay (Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee)
- Bob Donaldson (TRINITY Racing)
- Matthew Fox (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli)
- Jim Brown (Cross Team Legendre)