Claire Steels (Brother UK Fusion RT) and James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) were both victorious at the series-ending Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix today.
Steels’ first win of the HSBC UK | National Road Series moved her up to third in the overall standings, which was won by Rebecca Durrell (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm), while Shaw’s victory ensured he finished in the top three in the overall standings behind series winner Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis).
On a beautiful morning in the picturesque north Yorkshire countryside, the tough nature of the course thinned the women’s race out considerably, with a lead group of around 35 staying together after the first two, longer laps while other pockets of riders struggled to keep the pace.
On the final stages of the first of three short laps, Steels attacked on the climb, a move which split the front of the field. She was joined on the front by Anna Christian (Drops), and when Jennifer Powell (Bianchi Dama) and Anna Kay (Experza-Footlogix) latched on, the four built a strong lead.
As they took the bell, the gap over the peloton was 40 seconds, and although Josie Knight (Team Breeze) and Jessica Finney (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm) looked to bridge the gap, the lead group maintained their relentless pace off the front.
That pace eventually saw Kay fall away, and as the race came back into the Abbey grounds, it was Steels again who showed her strength on the climb to come away with victory, meaning that Christian had to settle for second and Powell third.
Afterwards, Steels said:
“The race stayed together as a big group for longer than I thought it would, which surprised me. As we were halfway round that (middle) lap, I thought that I might have gone a bit early, but then I was just determined to stick with it, because if you’re hurting anyway, you might as well keep going!
“The season didn’t start that well for me, but I had a turning point in the middle, so I’m really happy to finish well and finally get a win – I’m delighted.”
The top ten was completed by Knight, Finney, Kay, Emma Cockcroft (Bianchi Dama), Jo Tindley (Campinense – Velo Performance), Illi Gardner (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm) and Abi Smith (Campinense – Velo Performance).
The men started in blustery conditions, and Max Stedman (Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes) looked to use that to his advantage, immediately attacking and building a lead of 35 seconds in the opening stages. He was reeled back in, but that attack set the tone for a very active opening lap, by the end of which the peloton was strung out as they tackled the final climb in the Abbey grounds.
Stedman remained at the front of the race, however the lead group of which he was part swelled over the next few laps, with 26 riders forming the front group as they completed the three bigger laps.
Zeb Kyffin (Ribble Pro Cycling) tried his luck off the front, but when he was brought back, SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling duo Jacob Scott and James Shaw attacked and built a decent lead.
The team-mates worked superbly well together, increasing their lead to over two minutes over the peloton, however Saint Piran’s Steve Lampier was unwilling to let them have it all their own way, and was just about still in contention at the bell.
He was unable to bridge the remaining gap over the final lap though, and the SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling duo battled it out for the top spot, with Shaw eventually triumphing over Scott on the final stages of the closing climb.
Afterwards, Shaw said:
“We saw an opportunity, and you don’t get many opportunities to get the top two steps on the podium, so we tried to go for it. We both probably slightly regretted it with a lap to go, but we had a cracking ride and we’re over the moon.
“When we knew Lamps was breathing down our necks we knew we had to commit to getting one of us over the line first, and we managed to hold on for second as well.”
The rest of the top ten was: Ryan Christensen (Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes), Tristan Robbins (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling), Kyffin, James Jenkins (Richardsons-Trek RT), Holmes, Sam Culverwell (Team Estera) and Damien Clayton (Ribble Pro Cycling).