Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team) took overall victory in the 35th Junior Tour of Wales after three days of arduous terrain around Brynmawr.
After taking the win on Llangynidr Mountain on stage two, the Isle of Man rider held on to the yellow jersey for the remaining two days - but as predicted the race went to the wire, with a late attack from Max Williamson (Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster) meaning that Draper won by just two seconds, the closest margin in the race’s 35-year history.
RST Race Team took the team prize from Giant CC-Halo Films and HMT Academy JLT Condor, with Joey Walker and Joe Fry both in the top ten.
Williamson took the Best young rider after his performance in today’s Queen stage. Darragh O’Mahony (Munster Academy) took the King of the Mountain competition and Joe Holt retained his green sprints jersey and the best Welsh Rider. Peter Kibble won the combativity award in recognition of finishing the race in the top 10 after face-planting earlier in the tour.
In the series standing Etienne Georgi (Giant CC-HALO Films) secured victory, the first year junior also winning at The Tour of The Mendips earlier in the year and having high placings throughout the 10 rounds to keep him on top of the leaderboard.
Joey Walker (RST RT) finished second in the Series, Walker jumping over Rob Scott after the Tour of Wales to secure the runner up spot while Scott dropped back to third. With Draper taking three victories in the Series (Cicle Classic, Hatherleigh and Tour of Wales) he retained fourth overall and Corley Cycles’ Robert Hogg was fifth.
Etienne Georgi took a fine win on the top of Tumble Mountain earlier on the longest stage of the race, 89.4 kilometres from Brynmawr to Tumble Mountain. Georgi appeared through the mist at the finish alone and with time to celebrate before the line.
Max Williamson took second taking the sprint from Tom Chandler (Sherwood Pines SRAM) and Jack Billyard (RP Racing Team).
The final stage was always going to be a day of attacks and the first one came from Josh Lawrence (Cycling Ulster) just as the flag dropped, but as many early attacks it was to be short-lived as the peloton regrouped to take the first climb at Mynydd Aberdar together.
Alfie Moses (HMT) took the first King of the Mountains climb ahead of Joey Walker (RST RT), Darragh O’Mahony (Munster Academy) and Peter Kibble (Wales), the four making a gap to the peloton on the descent towards Hirwaun. But they were caught before the first sprint at Penderyn where Joe Holt took the points from Ethan Hayter.
With the race approaching the bleak Penderyn Moor a group of five attacked - Alex Braybrooke (HMT), Joe Fry, Rob Scott, Fabien Brennan (North City Velo) and Ulster’s Cameron McIntyre who rode into the strong head wind but managed to stay away from the main bunch.
With the weather changing throughout the day breaks were going away but were short-lived but coming to the second sprint at Storey Arms a small group of six attacked, HMT’s Karl Baillie taking the points in the sprint.
The leaders increased their lead to some 40 seconds, Max Williamson bridging the gap to the leaders and with 20 miles remaining the lead group had just over a minute.
Another chase group of 11 went after the leaders and caught them just before Crickhowell, and the fate of the race would be defined by this group as their lead increasing to 1-20.
With the race fast approaching the last climb of the day riders were popping off the front, knowing how steep the Tumble climb was. The front of the race began to break up but it was Georgi who put the first real attack in and had the legs to take it to the line five seconds ahead of Williamson, Chandler and Billyard. Draper came across the line in 16th 1.41 down on Georgi and had an anxious wait for the GB to be confirmed.
“I think the race was decided on the second stage,” said Draper. “We knew if one of us could get on the top step we could defend the lead to the Tumble but it was down to two seconds in the end and I have to thank the team for working so hard to keep me in yellow.
“Every rider pulled so much for me and probably more than they should have, it was a tremendous team effort and I’m really proud to be part of RST. It was good to have Joey [Walker] sitting in second place on GC, it acted as a buffer for any attacks, if they attacked they had to be chased down which allowed me to ride my race so it was a position either way for us.
“I know there have been some good riders who have gone from this race to some of the World’s biggest teams and it would great to be able to follow them. It’s the last race for the team today and I would like to thank everyone who has supported me, Jon Wood of NFTO and Chris Walker who have both looked after me over the last few seasons and I’d like to dedicate the to them.”
1. Etienne Georgi (Giant CC-HALO Films) 2:13.03
2. Max Williamson (Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster) at 5sec
3. Tom Chandler (Sherwood Pines SRAM)
4. Jack Billyard (RP Racing Team) all same time
5. Karl Baillie (HMT Academy JLT Condor) at 28sec
1. Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team) 7:10.18
2. Max Williamson (Bike Box Alan-Envelopemaster) at 2sec
3. Joey Walker (RST Racing Team) at 8sec
4. Ethan Hayter (VC Londres) at 19sec
5. Etienne Georgi (Giant CC-Halo Films) at 20sec
6. Peter Kibble (Wales) at 51sec
Junior Road Series, final overall (provisional):
1. Etienne Georgi (Giant CC-Halo Films) 249 pts
2. Joey Walker 223
3. Rob Scott 211