Matt Ellis took a fine sprint win on the Rifleman’s stage on the opening day of the Tour of the Mendips as the British Cycling Junior Men's Road Series continued.
The Soenens Booom rider was part of a four-man break that included Dylan Hughes (Spokes RT), Toby Perry (Thanet RT) and Louie Priddle (Mid Devon CC) who jumped away with three laps remaining of the 105km stage.
All eyes were on the winner of the opening round Hughes for the win but it was Ellis who used the verge to his advantage to police the final few metres leaving the Spokes rider taking second.
But a strong TT ride a few hours prior saw the second category rider Hughes claim the overall lead from Ben Healy by a slender two seconds. Ellis’ win takes him rider into fifth overall.
Passfield opens up on top
A tough opening to the stage saw the race retrace its steps of the morning’s time trial before heading up the steep Hartree Hill towards Chedder.
That saw Lee Valley’s Marco Passfield take the first points of the days KOM competition before the peloton turned right onto the first of seven laps on the circuit proper.
An early attack by Sam Allen (Lee Valley), Priddle and Brecon Burnett (Wales) set out the day’s intentions by the race, the trio setting the pace early on pulling out a 36-second lead.
Tosh Teare (Equiom IOM) and Team Corley’s Olly Knight joined the leaders and the quintet started to increase their gap to the peloton.
But by mid-race the main field had woken up and started to pull the leaders back, the race now starting to take shape for the second half of the stage.
Fortune favour the brave. Never thought a 55km solo break would end in a stage win from a bunch https://t.co/vWGkpxydyg— Matt Ellis (@matt_ellis01) April 7, 2018
Mingay leads the late charge
The 2017 overall winner, Oscar Mingay (PH-MAS / Paul Milnes) strung the field out as the race went across the finish, again the pace increasing.
But it was Ellis ultimately who had his eye on the finish line initiating the final real attack of the day with three laps to go and once joined by a select trio the final result was destined to come from the small group.
At that point it could have been anyone's guess as to who prevailed, with Hughes, Perry and Priddle all battling it out for the top three spots.
None of them could stop Ellis taking the victory however, proving himself to be the fastest in the late sprint.
Lone ranger role doesn't bother Ellis
“I just went slowly for a lap but then caught again by the group so I went for another shot and a rider came with me, but I managed to win the sprint at the end.
“It’s quite nice to be on your own sometimes, you can have a free ride at times but I had another rider with me this time.
“One of the lads went so I tried to jump on his wheel but I knew I could get past them, so I went down the right hand side and got past them – I’m happy with that.
“But that’s only part of it, we’ve got another tough day tomorrow."