Lewis Askey may have initially misjudged the finish but recovered to turn the tables on Alfie George for his maiden British Cycling Junior Men's Road Series win at the Hatherleigh Junior Road Race.
Askey, of Team Backstedt/Hotchillee, went one better in the severe Devon heat after finishing second to the Spokes Racing Team rider at the Junior CiCLE Classic in Melton a month ago.
Although not having seen the finishing straight previously, thinking instead that the race finished before the final drag climb, Askey outsprinted George and Equiom IOM Junior Cycling Team rider Thomas Bostock – taking the line by half a wheel’s length.
And as he recovered from his gruelling efforts, Askey admitted he had to dig deep to triumph.
He said: “It was really tough out there but I knew I had to commit and go for it on that final incline.
“I hadn’t really done a proper recce of the new course and almost misjudged the finish, I thought the race finished way back in the laps but I just had to keep going.”
The circuit had been altered from last year’s race and saw the riders head away from Hatherleigh before embarking on five laps around Brandis Corner down to Halwill Junction and towards High Hampton.
That made for a very rolling course with a good mix of climbs and fast sections, particularly on the two fast A-roads, and it proved more of a test in the sweltering heat.
The race started to break apart as the peloton entered the second lap of the 11-mile loop, with several riders chancing their luck and making breaks but no one rider committed and the challenges were all snuffed out by the chasing group.
Lap three saw the decisive breakaway with five riders pulling clear and fragmenting the field, before smaller groups of two and three gave chase, eventually leading to the nine-man lead group building a gap of 57 seconds on the chasing bunch.
As the group passed the feeding station at Halwill Junction for the last time, it was Askey that took the initiative, admitting afterwards that he didn’t want to be in a ten-man bunch sprint at the line.
The Team Backstedt/Hotchillee man felt he needed to commit to a break and go for it with around ten miles to go.
Samuel Watson and Oliver Rees, both of PH-MAS/Paul Milnes Cycles Team, also decided to make a break with Askey and the three of them, plus George and Bostock soon dropped the other riders and proceeded to attack the closing stages of the race.
It was Watson and Rees that made the bulk of the challenges as the race headed back towards Hatherleigh along the A3072, at times stretching the group.
However, Askey and George – rivals since they were racing at 12 years old – worked together to stay on the wheels of the PH-MAS/Paul Milnes Cycles duo.
The race remained this way until the leaders turned at the Hatherleigh roundabout and began the ascent to the finish line.
Askey stayed at the back of the group choosing to wait until the last moment to attack, eventually powering past and taking the chequered flag in a time of 2:36:22 with George and Bostock finishing second and third respectively.
Hatherleigh Junior Road Race results
1. Lewis Askey – Team Backstedt/Hotchillee
2. Alfie George – Spokes Racing Team
3. Tom Bostock – Equiom IOM Junior CT
4. Sam Watson – PH MAS / Paul Milnes
5. Oli Rees – PH MAS / Paul Milnes