Newly-crowned national champion Zac Walker of Utmost IOM Junior Cycling Team took the overall victory at this weekend's Fenwick's Junior Tour of the Mendips after three hard-fought days of racing.
After victories for Noah Hobbs (TEKKERZ CC) and GC leader Angus Stoneham (Beaconsfield CC) on stages one and two, the final stage of racing saw the riders tackle some of the steepest roads found on the Mendip Hills, including the Rhodyate climb from the HQ in Blagdon, before finishing on a smaller loop that would see the riders tackle four ascents of the formidable Harptree Hill.
Fatigue at the end of three days of racing played its part and several riders didn't take to the start line of the final stage. Josh Golliker attacked first as soon as the race neutralised start out of Blagdon ended. Clearly in the mood and loving the terrain, Golliker continued to push on and won all but one of the KOMs, splitting the bunch into several groups in the process.
A lead group of 10 riders would start the ascent up Harptree for the first time almost a minute ahead of the nearest chasing group. With the major climb now coming every 25 minutes and the pressure starting to tell, riders began dropping out of the bunch, fragmenting the race yet further.
National champion Zac Walker was equally enjoying the conditions and took the opportunity to work well with Golliker, and by midway through the second of the finishing laps the pair had opened a gap of 10 seconds on Tomos Pattinson (Halesowen A & CC) and Joseph Wilson (Foremost) with another two pairs in pursuit and the main bunch four minutes further back.
With the race seemingly down to the two lead riders to lose, and with the chasing groups resigned to fighting for podium places, there would be yet more drama as Golliker suffered a puncture through West Harptree and was forced to have a wheel change.
Not ready to give in, the TrainSharp rider jumped back on his bike and chased down the national champion and virtual leader on the road on the ascent up Harptree Hill, finally catching him as they crossed the line to take the bell for the final lap.
The pair continued to pull together for the final lap and it was clear that this partnership had worked incredibly well, and for mutual benefit, as Walker happily sat up on the final climb. This allowed his breakaway companion to take the stage win knowing he had secured the overall title in the race by not giving away the two second advantage he had over him going into the final stage.
A further 2:30 had passed before the next rider crossed the line, with Joseph Wilson (Foremost) sprinting ahead of Tomos Pattinson (Halesowen A & CC). Stage two winner Stoneham came home in what was left of the bunch over five minutes back, containing the other riders leading in the GC.
Pattinson had done enough on the stage to claim third place on the GC ahead of Wilson, who was four minutes down on the winner. Stoneham took sixth place, while Friday's time-trial winner Hobbs took seventh.