The opening round of 2017 British Cycling Junior Road Series kicked off on Sunday and it was Thomas Pidcock who came out on top after a thrilling ride in the Cadence Junior Road Race
The final climb of the Cadence Junior Road Race is short and sharp. Taken once, it’s absolutely fine – but taken seven times it really starts to take its toll and the race traditionally sees the bunch blown apart in the final couple of laps, with a solo winner cresting the final climb alone.
This year’s race was no exception with a string of early attempts to break away hauled back. Dylan Hughes of Spokes Racing Team led the first couple of times over the climb, but he couldn’t hold off the pack and on lap three it was Jake Stewart of Swinnerton Cycles, Fred Wright of VC Londres and William Tidball ofPH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield ERT who took the King of the Mountains points.
It was Tidball’s teammate and pre-race favourite Pidcock who led at the end of lap four– from Jake Wright of Zappi Racing Team and George Wharton of Spokes – and he would end up controlling the rest of the race.
A group of half a dozen riders built up a 30-second lead – with Pidcock always in the thick of the action. He took maximum points again in the King of the Mountains competition with two to go – Mark Donovan of Zappi and Oscar Mingay of Wales taking the other points – and it was Pidcock and Mingay from Wright at the bell.
By now, though, any danger of being caught by the bunch had passed and on the final lap Pidcock eased away from Mingay to ensure another solo win at the top of the climb.
The Welshman hung on to second – rolling in 19 seconds behind the winner – with Pidcock’s team mate Jim Brown taking third, a further ten seconds back.
The bunch – although fragmented - was just a couple of seconds behind, with Charles Page of Cycle Team OnForm pipping Rhys Britton of Wales in the sprint.
The other feature of the opening round of the Junior Series is the number of riders adjusting to riding in large groups and on open roads. Half a dozen crashes and a handful of disqualifications meant that just 64 of the original 100 starters were classified – 51 of them on the lead lap.
Speaking to British Cycling after the race, Pidcock said: “On the first few laps, nothing much was happening – there were a few half-hearted attacks – but then, after two laps two riders went up the road. They got 55 seconds so I went hard up the finishing hill and the gap came down a bit.
“After that there was a group of about ten people going through and off and we closed them down to a reasonable gap. With one and a half laps to go, the bunch were literally just behind us and on the back straight behind the climb I thought ‘It’s all or nothing, here – I’m not going to win a bunch sprint here’ - so I went through the corners.
“Just Oscar managed to stay with me – and we worked well. With about three quarters of a lap to go we were told we had 35 seconds, so I knew the bunch wasn’t going to get chase then.”
1 Thomas Pidcock PH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield Estate 2:34:40
2 Oscar Mingay Wales @ 19 seconds
3 Jim Brown PH-MAS @ 29
4 Charles Page Cycle Team OnForm @ 31
5 Rhys Britton Wales same time
6 Ethan Vernon Team Corley Cycles same time
7 Alex Ridehalgh Spokes Racing Team same time
8 Richie Allen Brother NRG Driverplan same time
9 Tobias Dalhaus London Dynamo @ 35
10 Charley Calvert Bournemouth Arrow/Hotel Collingwood same time