Event: 24th July 2011
Report: Guy Swarbrick
The field for the 13th Bath Road Junior Road Race, held on the tough Cublington Circuit near Leighton Buzzard was the latest round of the series to suffer from a scheduling clash - this time with the European Track Championships in Portugal.
With second placed Jon Dibben, sixth place Owain Doull, Chris Latham, Sam Lowe and winner of the last round Josh Papworth all absent, it was left to series leader Alistair Slater of Hargroves Cycles, third place Luke Grivell-Manor of Mid-Shropshire Wheelers and fourth Alex Peters of Hackney CC to consolidate their positions in the sixth, and penultimate round of the National Junior Road Race Series.
First time up the finishing climb it was David Swan of Cycles Dauphine who led, but only by a few metres from a compact and relaxed looking peloton. The heat and the hills would add a little more stress as the race progressed.
Next time round the Team Wallis CHH duo of Harry Tanfield and Matt Holmes a healthy 20 seconds ahead of Josh Hannan of Glendene CC, with a group of four riders - newly crowned Junior National Road Race Champion Dan Pearson of Port Talbot Wheelers, Michael White of Team Chevin Bang & Olufson, Matt Haase of Cardiff Jif and Harry Strudley of AW Cycles - a couple of seconds further back, seven seconds ahead of the main bunch.
The break didn't last, though, and - a few stragglers aside - the riders were all back together next time round with Rob Lambton of Brooks Cycles and Manxman Jonathan Creggen of Team Microgaming first over the crest of the climb. The race turned on the following lap with a very strong group of six riders getting away and pulling out a healthy 70 second lead. With Slater, Peters and Holmes joined by Jim Lewis of Glendene, Oliver Rossi of PCA Ciclos Uno and Taylor Johnstone of De Ver Cycles. With a group that included two of the top three in the series and a stage winner from the Junior Tour of Bristol in Oliver Rossi, few were betting against the group staying away and by the end of the following lap they had eased another 10 seconds out on the main bunch, fractured now after a couple of minor crashes.
As they headed to the line, the lead group were just 10 seconds shy of two minutes ahead of the peloton, but a group of three riders - early leader Tanfield, Josh Hannan of Glendene and Brendan Townshend of BCSW - were working hard to bridge the gap. It was a bridge too far, though, and it was Rossi who comfortably took the uphill sprint from Lewis with Slater third. Holmes, Peters and Johnstone dragged themselves over the line to round out the top six with Tanfield leading home the chasing group ahead of Hannan and Townshend, some 22 seconds behind the leading six. Lambton took the bunch sprint by a bike length from Matt Clarke of Halesowen and Ed Clemens of VC 10, who were separate by a tyre width.
Race winner Rossi said: "The course was good - nice, rolling lanes which suited me - and it was warm during the race, butIi don't think it made a difference. As soon as the six of us had a gap, I knew we wouldn't be caught because they're all strong riders and we were working well together. I knew that if it came down to a sprint I could win it, so I tried to keep the pace up fast enough so that nobody would attack."
Slater now leads the series with 230 points to second placed Alex Peters' 149 with the absent Jon Dibben dropping to third on 134. Slater's Series title isn't mathematically certain, but isn't far off. The remaining round - the Junior Tour of Wales consists of five stages, each worth 10 points to the winner with an additional 60 points for the overall winner, so theoretically, Peters and Dibben are still in with a chance, but would need to sweep the board in Wales.
"It's been a good season so far," Slater told British Cycling after the race. "Hopefully with a good tour of wales I'll be able to keep the overall series lead.
"Today's course was good, nice rolling lanes, brilliant for racing. It got progressively warmer - I only started to notice towards the end it just made it more important to keep drinking. When I attacked over the top of the hill and saw the other guys coming across I thought we had a chance as they are all strong riders. We got working well but it took a while with our heads down before the elastic snapped and we really got a time gap. Third wasn't bad, but I'll always go for the win - the series hasn't been a big aim I've just gone into each race trying to win it and it's sort of all come together."
1. Oliver Rossi Pca Ciclos Uno 2:47:50
2. Jim Lewis Glendene @Same Time
3. Alistair Slater Hargroves Cycles @St
4. Matt Holmes Team Wallis Chh @St
5. Alex Peters Hackney Cc
6. Taylor Johnstone De Ver Cycles
7. Harry Tanfield Team Wallis Chh @ 22 S
8. Josh Hannan Glendene Cc
9. Brennan Townshend Bc South West
10. Robert Lambton Brooks Cycles
11. Matt Clarke Halesowen
12. Edward Clemens Vc10
13. Sam Connelly Glendene Cc
14. Declan Byrne Brooks Cycles
15. David Swan Cycles Dauphine
16. Ashley Proctor Sheffrec Cc
17. Jonathan Creggen Team Micro Gaming
18. Michael Barnes Colortech
19. Tom Neale Spalding Cc
20. Rupert Denny Team Nemesis