Elizabeth Bennett (Campinense – Velo Performance) and Rory Townsend (Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes) claimed victories as the HSBC UK | National Road Series continued with the Curlew Cup and Beaumont Trophy.
Bennett won a thrilling sprint to take the Curlew Cup – round five of the women’s series – while Townsend continued his impressive campaign by taking his third win of the men’s series, in what was the sixth round.
The 187km Beaumont Trophy was an eventful affair, with a group of four leaders – Isaac Mundy (Richardsons-Trek RT), Jordan Peacock (Spirit Tifosi), Thomas Mein (Tarteletto - Isorex) and Rob Scott (Team Wiggins Le Col) – at one point establishing a lead of over two-and-a-half minutes on the peloton.
After a brief stoppage in the race, Peacock was the first to be dropped from the leading group and series leader Matt Holmes ensured that the peloton rapidly closed the gap as the race’s final stages approached.
Once the leaders had been caught, with just under 30km to race, a formidable-looking group of seven – John Archibald and Dan Bigham (both Ribble Pro Cycling), Pete Williams (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling), Callum MacLeod and Townsend (both Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes), Damien Clayton (Andy Moore Autocentres Racing) and Mark Christian (Team Wiggins Le Col) – formed and swiftly established a lead of their own.
They stayed together, setting up a grandstand finish, which Townsend took from Williams and Clayton.
Townsend said: “The sprint was really hard. Pete [Williams] is a fantastic competitor and he’s won this race before, so I was concerned about him coming into the finish.
“There’s a small bit of downhill coming into the line, so I wanted to be first to there as I though the likelihood was whoever got there first would take it.
“That’s my third win now, so I’m absolutely loving the series! The team is so strong that it makes it a lot easier for me, but I’m really happy with how things are going.”
Bigham, MacLeod, Archibald, Christian, Tom Pidcock (Team Wiggins Le Col) and Team Inspired duo Joe Nally and Jim Brown all recorded top ten finishes.
Bennett – the current HSBC UK | National Circuit Series leader – took her first win of the road series by a matter of centimetres as the women’s race finished with a bunch sprint.
After a photo finish was needed to decide the outcome, Bennett was crowned the winner ahead of Brother.UK Fusion RT’s April Tacey and Charlotte Berry (Campinense – Velo Performance).
Despite several attacks off the front of the 106km race – notably by Rebecca Richardson and Ruth Shier (Brother.UK Fusion RT), Abby-Mae Parkinson (Drops) and Emma Cockcroft (Bianchi Dama) – the peloton was back together as they entered the final straight, setting up the thrilling finale.
Bennett said: “It’s great – last year, I didn’t finish this race, so to get the win here this year is really special.”
The top ten was completed by Parkinson, series leader Rebecca Durrell (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm), Sophie Thackray (Torrelli-Assure-Madison), Leah Dixon (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm), Fiona Turnbull (Slingshot), Charlotte Colclough (Bianchi Dama) and Cockcroft.
Both the men’s and women’s series now move on to the Stockton Grand Prix, which takes place next Sunday (July 14).