Jacob Hennessy (Spirit Bikes) powered to a popular and deserved victory in the Skipton Grand Prix, round three of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series on Wednesday evening.
The 19-year-old from St Neots in Cambridgeshire had attacked solo early in the race, and was joined shortly after by five other riders from big-name teams.
But Hennessy worked hard to keep the break alive, with the bunch chasing it down to within 12 seconds at one point before allowing it to go out again. And in the sprint Hennessy showed the sort of pace that won him the prestigious Jock Wadley Memorial in March.
NFTO had to settle for second spot with Liam Stones, while Jack Pullar (Pedal Heaven) completed the podium in third.
The customary fast pace caused the race the string out on the first lap, with Raleigh GAC and Pedal Heaven towards the front, Jake Womersley and Harry Tanfield pushing hard in a bid to get an early break.
With ten minutes gone, Spirit Bikes’ Jacob Hennessy attacked and took Russell Downing (JLT Condor) with him.
Within a lap the group had swelled to six riders and began to make significant ground with Liam Stones (NFTO), joint series leader Felix English (Madison Genesis), Raleigh GAC’s Albert Torres and Jack Pullar (Pedal Heaven) joining Downing and Hennessey.
Their gap increased to 19 seconds with around 20 minutes racing completed, before Raleigh GAC gathered on the front to pull back the break, obviously not thinking this was the right time or the right move for Torres to work in.
NFTO’s Ian Bibby – the national circuit racing champion – gave his champions jersey an airing with a big turn on the front which brought the gap down to just 12 seconds, but JLT Condor moved to the front and took control.
Their man in the break is Russ Downing, a formidable rider in any company, and they obviously fancy his chances in a six-up sprint finish. Shortly after JLT hit the front of the bunch, the lead went back out to 23 seconds.
They continued to build their lead and reached 43 seconds over the bunch with just nine laps to go, and thoughts turned to the sprint, with Felix English (Madison Genesis) desperate for the win having placed second and third in the first two rounds of the series.
With four laps left for the leading six riders they were in danger of lapping the bunch, so the bell came out and the bunch was cleared off the course to make way for the six-up shootout for the win.
Hennessy got a great line for the sprint, and held on for a great win, crossing the line with his arms aloft and several bike lengths ahead of Liam Stones (NFTO) in second, while Jack Pullar (Pedal Heaven) took third.
“That’s been a long time coming so I’m just happy to get round,” said Hennessy. “We turned up two hours late and I didn’t really get chance to warm up!
“I raced twice last week which was the first crits we’ve done, and I can’t believe we’ve won this.
“No-one was really going full gas early on so I attacked because I thought nothing else would get on TV. I stayed away for two laps then five riders came over and we worked together pretty well.
“In the last two laps everyone was track-standing and looking at each other a bit, so it came down into a sprint. I know that I can sprint and I was hoping nobody would go early as I didn’t have the legs to go with them.”
1. Jacob Hennessy (Spirit Bikes)
2. Liam Stones (NFTO)
3. Jack Pullar (Pedal Heaven)
4. Russell Downing (JLT Condor)
5. Albert Torres (Raleigh GAC)
6. Felix English (Madison Genesis)
7. James Lowsley-Williams (NFTO)
8. Richard Hepworth (Raleigh GAC)
9. Jake Womersley (Pedal Heaven)
10. Evan Oliphant (Raleigh GAC)