Lucy Glover and Jim Brown powered to dominant sprint victories at the fourth round of the National Circuit Series in Dudley.
Lucy Glover (Shibden Hope Tech Apex) sprinted to her biggest win yet, taking an emphatic victory with an impressive winning margin from a reduced bunch sprint at just 17 year's old.
The first year junior’s display of strength underscores a good run of form for both herself and her team in this year’s National Circuit Series, improving on the second place her teammate, Cat Ferguson, earned at Otley Grand Prix at the start of the series.
The race started at speed in spite of the threat of rain, and Sian Botteley (Hutchinson-Brother UK) impressed with her bike handling skills on roads that were still slick from earlier downpours. Jo Tindley (Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee) joined her at the front and the duo had a gap before the end of the first lap.
The two riders worked together, but neither was willing to commit to the move so early on and they were soon swallowed back up by the peloton. However, the wet roads were causing issues in the bunch and an early crash split the peloton, leaving just 13 riders at the front after only ten minutes of racing.
Emily Proud (Le Col RT), second in Guildford's round, was active at the front of the race, trading blows with Tindley as the two tried to slip away from the group. DAS-Handsling were equally aggressive, pushing the pace with the 2022 National Road Series champion, Sammie Stuart, and her teammate Lucy Lee.
Attack after attack by Proud threatened to split the bunch, drawing out responses from Lee, Glover, and the four Pro-Noctis riders, but the status quo remained unchanged well into the latter half of the race.
Despite their numerical advantage, the Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee riders were unable to gain much of a foothold, and the aggressive nature of the racing started to take its toll, with Botteley being dropped from the front of the race.
The race entered the final lap with the front group intact and it was Proud who took things up at the front of the race. She attacked coming through the finish line, but Glover was quick to latch onto her wheel, battling her way ahead of the Pro-Noctis pairing of Robyn Clay and Corinne Side.
Proud held the front all the way to the penultimate corner, where Glover jumped early and caught the rest by surprise. Taking advantage of a fading Proud, she quickly opened up an unassailable gap and crossed the line over five bike lengths ahead of Proud, with Lee rounding out the podium.
Corinne Side finished in fourth, keeping her overall lead in the series as they head to Sheffield for the next round.
Jim Brown (Cross Team Legendre) covered the early moves and took advantage of his devastating sprint to earn an impressive victory.
The former AT85 Pro Cycling rider was one to watch on the start line, having taken third at the Otley Grand Prix at the beginning of the series. Throughout the evening, Brown was one of the most visible riders in the race, making sure to mark a series of dangerous moves before seizing the initiative coming out of the final corner of the race and launching a powerful sprint on the tough uphill drag to the line.
As the flag dropped, Wheelbase-CabTech-Castelli’s Matt Fox, the winner of Round 2 in Ilkley, launched from the line.
Alec Briggs (TEKKERZ CC) was visible towards the front, although he slipped back early on, struggling with fatigue from a heavy block of racing. Instead, it was Jenson Young (ROKiT-SRCT) who showed himself, breaking clear early on with Callum Laborde (Wheebase-CabTech-Castelli).
The duo never had much more than a handful of seconds, but the pace on the front stretched the peloton out behind them and, by the time they were caught a few laps later, the bunch had started to split.
Ben Chilton (Ribble Collective) was looking to defend his series lead after his impressive victory in Guildford, and he countered with a hard attack through the finishing straight. However, this time the bunch was wise to the danger and they quickly reeled him in.
The damage was starting to show and, by the halfway mark, not more than a dozen riders were starting to pull away from a fracturing peloton.
Suddenly, disaster struck Chilton as he lost traction cornering on a tight right-hander and slid across the road. He was quickly up and riding again, but his momentum was lost and the pace of the leaders made chasing back almost impossible. Chilton would continue, but his bid for a second consecutive series round win evaporated.
Meanwhile, William Truelove (ROKiT-SRCT) was pushing the pace, and subsequent attacks by George Kimber (Embark Spirit BSS), Toby Barnes (Dolan Ellese), and Brown further splintered the front group. Eventually ten riders were working to stay away from a chasing group of eight.
Coming into the final lap, the two groups had come together. Will Roberts (Saint Piran) accelerated hard and gained a small gap on the bunch, before Brown closed the gap and came round Roberts with three corners to go. Brown held off the rest of the bunch all the way to the line ahead of Roberts and Fox.
Fox’s podium result closed the gap to Chilton in the overall National Circuit Series standings, who holds onto the lead by a slim margin ahead of the Sheffield Grand Prix next week.