Tom Chandler (Sherwood Pines SRAM) took his first win of the British Cycling Junior Road Series in round eight on a rain-lashed Stewkley circuit that saw many riders abandon well before the finish.
A relatively flat circuit that took in the villages of Dunston, Whitchurch and Cublington wouldn’t have caused any problems in fine weather but with standing water and cross winds, it proved to be tough going for many riders in the 115 kilometre race.
As the flag dropped, a group of four popped off the front to test the waters - Alex Harvey (NFTO), Alex Foster (Border City), Will Roberts (County Cycles RT) and Nathan Draper (RST RT) made their move but as the race headed through the narrow lanes towards Dunston the break was pulled back.
The race settled down for a while and as the field headed back towards Stewkley for the first visit, a group of six including Joe Fry (RST RT), Alex Braybrooke (HMT Academy), James Ireson (WWCC) and Peter Kibble (Velocity Globalbike) jumped away and worked well to get a twenty second break to the peloton.
With the weather worsening riders were starting to abandon but the lead group were keeping a steady time gap off the front. Small groups were trying to get across to the lead and as the end of the second lap approached another group of six including Matt Clements (Catford CC), Jack Billyard (RP Racing), Kieran Simcox (Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster) and HMT’s Karl Baillie managed to work together to make the gap to the leaders.
Now with 12 riders, the group looked as though they could go for a long race and stay away with the gap through Cublington still hovering at some 20 seconds. The time began to slowly ease out as the 12 started to organise themselves but as the race approached the turn to Whitchurch the bunch had caught them.
Elliot Redfern (Giant CC-Halo Films) jumped away and almost ignored, soon made a useful gap off the front but Matt Clements and James Ellmore (Mid Shrops Wheelers) saw the danger and went on the chase, Redfern’s team mate Charlie Meredith and Ed Giles (RP Racing) tried to hook on the leaders but to no avail and as the race completed another lap they were all back together.
With the race at the halfway point, it once again started to get twitchy and small attacks were firing off the front. Joey Walker (RST RT) and Karl Baillie went away as the race approached Stewkley to be joined by series leader Etienne Georgi (Giant CC), the three getting a small gap.
Realising the threat, the bunch started to react and small groups were trying to jump across, the result being a large group of some fifteen getting away.
The group, including Tom Chandler, set about making the break stick but once again the main field chased the break down and on the penultimate lap the race was back together.
The final lap again saw a break go with Chandler, Alex Touche (Cwmbran Paragon) Robert Scott (VCUK PH-MAS), Joey Walker and Matt Walls (Velocity GlobalBike) amongst others making the break stick and with some 900 metres remaining Kieran Simcox went on the attack but was unable to make it work.
Touche went over the top of the Bike Box rider but had Chandler for company. The long drag up to the finish played into Chandler’s hands with the Sherwood Pines rider having the legs to claim the win.
Speaking after the race, Tom Chandler said: “Today was my first National Series win, had a few top tens in the series and got a top ten last week at the Nationals so I knew the form had been coming for a while.
“I made a few mistakes last week which I worked on today and it obviously worked. It was a bit sketchy early in the race with the rain and the cross winds. The course wasn’t that hilly but it was the weather that was causing problems for us, I saw a few crashes throughout the race.
“It wasn’t a hard circuit, I prefer the hillier courses and although I wouldn’t say I’m a climber I like to work hard. I like the bunch to wear down a bit and break up.
“Once I knew we had a break that looked that it could stay away I knew I was in a position to go for the win. I managed to get in the right end of most of the breaks today but we couldn’t make the earlier ones stick.
“But the one on the last lap was one that stayed away. There was one guy who got away with about one kilometre to go, I think it was Kieran (Simcox), but I managed to get across to him and pass him. I knew had had someone (Touche) coming up fast but I managed to hold him off.”
1 Tom Chandler (Sherwood Pines SRAM)
2 Alex Touche (Cwmcarn Paragon CC)
3 Robert Scott (VCUK PH-MAS)
4 Joey Walker (RST RT)
5 Louis Modell (Catford CC Equipe/Banks)
6 Matt Walls (Velocity GlobalBike)
7 Kieran Simcox (Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster)
8 Joe Holt (County Cycles RT)
9 Etienne Georgi (Giant CC/HALO Films)
10 Marcus Burnett (Corley Cycles Drops RT)