Abi Smith took the stage win as British Cycling Junior Women’s Road series continued in the hills above Lancaster for day two of the North West Youth and Junior Tour.
The popular but gruelling Quernmore road circuit is always attritional and this year proved no different with extremely hot conditions adding to the challenge faced by the riders.
As expected the race saw its usual high rate of dropped riders each time the pack completed the long drag to the finish line over the 12-lap duration of the race.
As early as lap three, half the field had been dropped and by lap five a select group of just 15 riders were left at the head of the race.
An early indicator of how tough the pace was saw GC leader at the start of the day Sophie Lewis (Team OnForm) slip out of contention mid-race as the stronger climbers kept the pace high on the hill especially when contesting the five QOM laps.
Also distanced relatively early was Amelia Sharpe (Liv Halo) a serial winner on this course, which again underlined the severity of the pace at the front of the race.
With four laps to go a group of for riders formed including the overall series contenders Smith (Campinense - Velo Performance), Katie Scott (Team OnForm), Anna Shackley (Team 22) and Beth Morrow (Edinburgh RC).
The break quickly forged a gap of 20 seconds with three to go and extended it to the line, Smith winning with a trademark ride off the front of the group on the finishing straight to win ahead of Morrow, with Shackley and Scott in close attendance in third and fourth.
Smith had a great day all round winning all five QOMs and moves into the general classification lead by three seconds from Shackley going into the final day.
With Scott just one further second back on GC it’s all to play for on day three, a tight criterium circuit around the Lancaster University Campus rounding off the event.