Eluned King and Oliver Stockwell sprinted to glory as the National Junior Road Race Championships produced a pair of thrilling bunch finishes.
After 50 miles of a women’s race where the main teams marked each other, King powered clear in the closing metres and nobody could match the speed of the Liv Cycling Club – Halo Cycles rider.
It was Storey Racing who had looked to control the race and they attempted to lead-out Elynor Backstedt for the victory only for King to capitalise and take the sprint finish.
Backstedt took a fine second place a bike length behind while Maddie Wadsworth (Cycle Team On Form) finished third.
“It’s really good as it was quite a weird race as it was on and off so I’m really happy to win,” said King.
“The last three kilometres was so cagey as there was quite a few corners so I thought I had to stay in the top five, I would rather get rolled on the line than crash in the last few corners.
“I tried to attack three times in the last two laps but there was quite a strong tail-wind so everything was just coming back together.
“There were a few attacks but it was more people just trying to keep the pace high for the whole race.”
Some 31 riders competed for the junior women’s national jersey and left Bassingham to complete five laps of a pan flat 10-mile route in damp conditions.
After 20 miles of cagey racing the pace rose with several attacks on the wide and exposed roads which caused the race to line-out and several riders dropped off the back.
With six riders dropped from the bunch and pulled out some 25 riders came into the closing stages together with Cycle Team On Form and Liv Cycling Club- Halo Cycles patrolling the front of the race.
First year junior King broke away with eight miles remaining but was quickly chased down by the pack but she still had enough to win the bunch finish.
Junior Women's Gallery
It was a similar story in the junior men's race as Oliver Stockwell (Team Ribble) was the quickest from a 19-man breakaway to be crowned national junior road race champion.
The Team Ribble rider showed his track racing speed to spring clear in the finishing straight to beat Max Walker (Equiom IOM Junior Cycling Team) into second and Aaron Freeman (Chelmer CC) third.
Stockwell, who was last year’s under-16 circuit race champion, was part of a strong group which went clear with around half of the 70-mile flat race remaining before making his winning sprint in the final metres.
“Coming into the finish I saw the Isle of Man boys working together so I grabbed on that," said Stockwell.
“I knew I wanted to be second out of the last corner because it’s quite long from there and then rush the gap of the lad in front of me.
“It worked perfectly. There was an attack with a kilometre to go which strung us all out so played into my hands because it was a lot easier to get into position.
“I won it (national title) before but this one is special as I can wear the jersey all year.
“It was a really good breakaway and I bridged across a bit later after it had already formed. It was just perfect as everyone was pulling through really well until the end.
“I think as there was so many of us we could just hold onto the gap really well and it was just perfect really.
“Because it had rained it was quite slippery all over the roads and it was a hard race and people were slipping off on the corners.
“The wind around the back of the circuit was almost like going up a hill in some ways and it gets rid of some of the weaker riders.”
Zach Bridges (Team Ribble) attacked out of the neutralised section and was soon joined by James Harrison (Equiom IOM Junior Cycling Team) and Samuel Watson (Fenshaw Homes-MAS Design).
The breakaway quickly grew to eight riders with Oscar Nilsson-Julien (VC Londres), Alexander Dent (Spokes Racing Team), Bryn Davies (The Bulls), Adam Mitchell (Spokes Racing Team) and David Hird (Halesowen A&CC) joining the head of the race.
"I've won it before but this one is special."— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) July 28, 2019
Oliver Stockwell held his nerve to claim the bunch finish and the national junior road race title
Hear from the @TeamRibble racer after a memorable triumphpic.twitter.com/DQ5MIHe6hw
The eight riders quickly built a lead of over 30 seconds despite the chase growing behind.
However, the group’s luck changed when Bridges suffered a mechanical and needed a new bike before Watson and Nilsson-Julien slid out on a wet bend moments later.
With their group reduced to five riders the bunch was strung out behind as they reeled them back with 20 miles raced.
Last year’s winner Ben Tullett (IKO-Beobank) and runner-up Lewis Askey (Backstedt Cycling) also suffered bad luck after a crash with a vehicle while they were off the front of the bunch dented both of their chances and ended that of George Mills-Keeling (Cycle Club Bridgnorth RWG).
The flat roads led to aggressive racing with Will Corkill (Equion IOM Junior CT), Alex Haines (HMT Hospitals Giant Cycling Team) and Oscar Onley (Spokes RT) pulling out a healthy advantage of 20 seconds.
A frantic chase behind resulted in several groups bridging across and 19 riders, including Leo Hayter (VC Londres) going clear.
Meanwhile Tullett who had already dropped back for mechanical assistance following the crash then changed bikes in the feed zone and re-joined the bunch.
The breakaway increased their lead to a minute and 35 seconds as VC Londres and Equiom IOM Junior Cycling Team monitored the head of the bunch.
Not giving up on the race eight riders formed together in a bid to close a gap of over two minutes with 20 miles remaining of the race.
However, with lots of teams represented in the breakaway the bunch worked hard to catch the chasing riders.
Not deterred by his earlier crash Askey was next to attempt to jump across to the breakaway along with Ed Grandidge (Mega Bike Race Team) before being joined by Robert Donaldson (Fensham Howes- MAS Design) and Thomas Gloag (VC Londres).
That quartet drew the gap back to one minute and 45 seconds behind the breakaway with a 10-mile lap remaining and the bunch had fragmented with splinter groups trying to chase.
The 19 leaders wouldn’t be caught and came into the final kilometre through Bassingham together.
It was Oliver Knight (HMT Hospitals Giant Cycling Club) who made the initial bid for home, but he was chased down allowing Stockwell to clinch the win.