Zappi Racing Team Rider Tom Couzens made it back-to-back wins in Grosmont for Team Zappi, after Mason Hollyman’s victory last year, with a stunning solo performance around the gruelling 77 mile circuit.
Couzens made his winning move with two laps still remaining and despite cramp in the final stages was able to hold on to secure his maiden victory, eventually winning by 1.37 from Oscar Onley of the Spokes Racing Team.
The race didn’t get off to the greatest start with the commissaries stopping the race after just 7km to reprimand riders and reiterate rider safety after several riders crossed the centre lines into oncoming lanes.
After a short briefing in a layby the race recommenced and the attacks soon started.
A break of eleven riders lead by Jacques Coates, Cycle Team OnForm soon put 22 seconds between them and the chasing peloton, their break didn’t last long and they were soon haunted down but not before Coates secured the first KoM prime in Grosmont from Oliver Rees, HMT Hospitals Giant Cycling Team in second and Jack Rootkin-Gray, Solihull CC in third.
More attacks followed in the scenic and undulating lanes of Monmouthshire as riders tried to escape the bunch, decimating the field into small groups in the process.
As the main group approached the climb into Grosmont for the second time it was James Harrison, Equiom IOM Junior Cycling Team with Alexander Dent, Spokes Racing Team and Lewis Askey, Team Backstedt Cycling that made a break for glory with Harrison clinching the second King of the Mountains points.
As the race left Grosmont and entered the third lap of 24km circuit the three riders found themselves chased down and once again the group was back together.
It was on this decent out of the village that Couzens seized the opportunity to attack and, along with George Mills-Keeling, Cycle Club Bridgnorth RWG, Logan Maclean, Spokes Racing Team and Alexander Dent, Spokes Racing Team, the four riders quickly built up a commanding lead over the peloton.
With over 30km to go and sensing that the other three weren’t working as hard for the breakaway Couzens decided to “go for it” and with one and a half laps and two climbs into Grosmont still to go Couzens went out on his own.
His aggressive and powerful attack caught the others by surprise and soon Couzens had a impressive one minute 40 second advantage over the chasers.
Despite cramping up in the final stages and being physically sick on a couple of occasions Couzens pushed on through the pain and with his first National victory in sight he powered up the final climb to take the tape 1.37 ahead of Oscar Onley, Spokes Racing Team with Thomas Gloag, VC Londres a further 46 seconds behind.
Afterwards Couzens described the win as feeling “fantastic”, adding “he’d never won anything this big and was delighted to win such a tough and prestigious race.
James Harrison, Equiom IOM Junior Cycling Team took the overall King of the Mountains competition, finishing 18th overall.