Manxman Nathan Draper took a fine win at the junior CiCLE Classic, round three of the British Cycling Junior Road Series, on an unrelenting course that saw the field smashed apart the first time along the Barrowberg special sector.
Draper, riding for the RST Racing Team, took his chance to escape what was left of the field with five kilometres left and managed to hang on to cross the line a couple of bike lengths ahead of Joe Holt and Joe Fry.
A steady ride away from the start at Oakham on relatively flat roads saw the field of some 100 riders taking a easy pace. Just as the course approached the small village of Teigh, a group of three riders made for an early break but before the opening climb of the day past the Black Bull, the leg stretch was soon pulled back to the bunch.
Small attacks were the order of the opening lap on the smooth tarmac but as the race approached the Barrowberg sector for the first time, a group of three attacked across the unmade road and got a small gap.
The majority of the field splintered with team cars and service struggling to keep up with replacement wheels leaving riders stranded looking for new wheels.
The sector would define the day's racing, leaving many to rue the day with the race as good as over.
A group of 15 formed as the race left the rough roads and headed back towards the village of Market Overton. Max Spedding hit the deck and crashed out of the race as the group looked to be working well.
Back onto normal roads, three main groups had formed. The front group including Draper, Joey Walker (RST), Holt, HMT's Stuart Balfour, Series leader Etienne Georgi (Giant- Halo) and contender, Corley Cycle's Robert Hogg, were now some 40 seconds ahead.
They were keeping the pace high taking advantage of the 'clean' roads out through Thisleton and through the gates at Edmondthorpe before heading back to Teigh and a complete circuit.
The field remained status quo until the final time around the course with the back two main groups joining and beginning the chase to the second group on the road.
The group of eight consisting, amongst others, of High Wycombe's George Clark, Will Gascoyne (Pine Cycles) and Robert Scott (VCUK-PH-MAS).
Breaking away on the run-in to the finish at Oakham, six riders broke away with Draper, Holt and Fry looking comfortable.
But as the five-kilometre banner appeared, there was a lull with the six and Draper made his play and jumped the group, his lead increasing while the chasers looked around.
Gaining 21 seconds in the final kilometre, Draper held his nerve to take the line alone ahead of the chasers.
Speaking after the race, Draper said: “Today was a big win for me, I had a couple of good results last season but I'm looking to up my game this year, hopefully going into the under 23 section or the seniors soon.
“It’s good for me to get this kind of win fairly early in the season. As far as the race went today, I felt strong going onto the Barrowberg sector and tried to split the race apart as we hit it but it didn't go to plan really, so I thought it would be wise to wait for a group to come up.
“On the run into Oakham, there was a bit of a lull at five kilometres left go so I thought I'd attack and try and stay away. When I heard I had 20 seconds with one kilometre to go, I knew I had it.”
1. Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team) 92km in 2:24.29
2. Joe Holt (County Cycles RT) at 9sec
3. Joe Fry (RST RT)
4. Matthew Bostock (Manx Viking Wheelers)
5. Joey Walker (RST RT)
6. Marcus Burnett (Corley Cycles)
7. Jack Escritt (HMT Academy/JLT Condor)
8. Etienne Georgi (Giant CC)
9. Robert Hogg (Corley Cycles) all same time
10. Patrick Christopher (Zappi’s Racing Team) at 15sec