Location: Stockbridge, Hampshire
Event: 25 September 2011
Report: Graham Robins -
Ben Stockdale (Team Qoroz) took a fine win in the Stockbridge Down Road Race in Hampshire on Sunday, rounding off a long hard season for the 21-year-old Cheltenham rider.
Fresh from racing in Bulgaria, Ben out sprinted Allan Ridler (Team Cycle Kingdom) in a tough race over five laps (65 miles) on a warm sunny morning in Hampshire.
The riders had to contend with a stiff headwind along the main road up and down the climbs on the return towards Stockbridge.
The first break came with three-quarters of a lap completed, when Tom Stockdale (Team Qoroz) and Conor Ryan (VC Montpellier) had a lead of 1:30 after working hard to get away and were trying to strengthen their lead into the strengthening headwind on the top of Leckford down.
The leaders battle on to stay clear of the bunch. Pic: Graham Robins.
The bunch were strung out under pressure applied by David Sinclair (Team GWR), Phil Peters (Cannondale Racing) and Rowan Horner (VC St Raphael), while close in attention was Ben Stockdale just marking the front group.
On lap two Tom Stockdale and Conor Ryan were first to show at the junction, with a strong chasing group 40 seconds behind. The group of six contained Danny Axford (Artic Premier RT), Colin Parry (Wilier/Go Self Drive), Will Stephenson (Bournemouth Arrow)and Jack Kirk (Agiskoviner).
Just behind these were David Sinclair and Richard Wood (Team Milton Keynes) a further five seconds down, and the bunch now strung out at 1:18 behind.
In the village of Crawley on lap three the leaders had been joined by the six chasers to make a strong eight-man leading group which now included Allan Ridler, Jake Kirk and Ben Stockdale.
The bunch was now 1:54 behind and with most of the big hitters in the lead it was difficult to think they would be caught and so the winner had to come from one of these.
Lap four saw the leaders extend their lead to over two minutes, first through the finish line was Colin Parry followed by Ben Stockdale with the others six only a couple of seconds behind.
Ben Stockdale takes the win in the 2011 Stockbridge Down Road Race. Pic: Graham Robins.
The start of the last lap saw Colin and Ben sprinting away of now five chasers as we seemed to have lost Tom Stockdale who rolled into the finish area to retire after a very long season of racing.
The chasing group were now 1:38 down on the leaders with Simon Brookes (VC St Raphael), Roy Chamberlain (Team Corley Cycles) and Richard Wood.
The race had three prime prizes on laps two, three and four with Ben winning two and Colin picking up one.
As the riders approached the finish line at the top of the climb with 100 meters to go it was Ben and Jack in the lead, Ben powered around his friend to win by a couple of bike lengths. Allan Ridler was a few metres behind with Colin in fourth.
The remainder of the leading group all rolled in evenly spaced out with Conor losing out coming in 1min down on the winner having been in the leading break all race.
After the race Ben said: "That was hard, very hard! I had my brother Tom in the early break with Conor so I had an easy ride up to the break.
"The wind was a factor during the race and the break quickly settled in to a rhythm working well together."
With six miles to go Ben thought the race was over when Colin Parry put in a solo move, but he added: "We all worked together and fought hard over the hill to bring him back." Ben knew that Jack would be going well having ridden with him in Bulgaria last week and kept him close by and overpowered him in the finale.
Team Qoroz manager David Walters said after the race: "It had been a mature and controlled ride from a very talented guy who has had a great year, ably backed by the young team."
The event was promoted and marshalled ably by members of Andover Wheelers and was sponsored by Jamie Shearer of J Shearer Roofing.
The podium: From left, Jack Kirk, Ben Stockdale and Allan Ridler. Pic: Graham Robins.
1 Ben Stockdale (Team Qoroz)
2 Jack Kirk (Agiskoviner)
3 Allan Ridler (Team Cycle Kingdom)
4 Colin Parry (Wilier/Go Self Drive)
5 Will Stephenson (Bournemouth Arrow)
6 Danny Axford (Artic Premier)
7 Conor Ryan (VC Montpellier)
8 Roy Chamberlain (Team Corley Cycles)
9 Richard Wood (Team Milton Keynes)
10 Simon Brookes (VC St Raphael)
Juniors: Will Stephenson (Bournemouth Arrow).
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.