Rory Townsend (Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes) and Sophie Lankford (Team Jadan Weldtite – Vive le Velo) both claimed national series victories as Bristol hosted a day-long celebration of cycling today.
Townsend won round 4 of the men’s HSBC UK | National Road Series – the Circuit of the Mendips, while Lankford topped the podium at the first round of the women’s HSBC UK | National Circuit Series – the Bristol Crit, after over 7,500 people had taken the opportunity to cycle around the city’s traffic-free streets as part of the HSBC UK Let’s Ride event.
The men’s race came down to a sprint, with Townsend outpacing Scott Thwaites (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK) and Ian Bibby (Madison Genesis) into second and third respectively.
Afterwards, Townsend said:
“That’s definitely the hardest round of the series – the climbs were pretty mad, and longer than we’re used to. That probably suited me more, but it was a really hard day, which makes it even sweeter.
“There were two riders away over the last climb, and I just about managed to crawl over the top of it and hang on to Bibby. I had nothing left and it was an absolute slog to the line, so I’m really, really happy.”
The tough nature of the 95.6-mile course split the peloton from the early stages of the race, and while a number of attacks were mounted but unable to get away, Michael Mottram (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK) built a lead of around a minute after launching a solo breakaway.
Matt Bostock (Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes) joined him on the front of the race, but the duo was reeled back in by the peloton with just under 20 miles left. Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) and James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) were next to attack, and it took until the final two kilometres for the group to bring them back and set up the sprint finish which led to Townsend’s victory.
This is the first year in which the women’s peloton has had a standalone circuit series, and later in the day, Lankford ensured that she topped the early series standings by edging out Campinense -Velo Performance duo Elizabeth Bennett and Jo Tindley.
The race began in torrential rain, with the field soon being split across the 1.6km city centre course. As conditions brightened, a lead group of six formed, and that had reduced to three as the race entered its closing laps.
It was Lankford who had the legs to take victory, and afterwards, she said:
“It absolutely bucketed it down at the start, and there was so much standing water that you couldn’t really see, and you definitely didn’t want to be behind riders because of the spray. It was crazy, but luckily because it’s quite warm it dried out and it wasn’t too bad in the end.
“I knew I could win a sprint, but there I was up against two team-mates who were working together, and I thought they might take me. I just went full gas, thinking if I got beaten, it was fair and square, but when I looked behind me I couldn’t believe that I’d got it.”
Both the men and the women now move on to the north east, for the Tour of the Reservoir (round 5 of the men’s HSBC UK | National Road Series) and the Alexandra Tour of the Reservoir (round 4 of the women’s HSBC UK | National Road Series) next weekend.