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Papworth claims win in latest Junior Series race
Photo: Declan Byrne (Brooks Cycles) leads into the s-bend early on
A grey day couldn't put a dampener on CC Giro's festival of circuit racing that started at 9:30am with a 3rd/4th Cat race, included a full Under 10s to Under 16s National Youth Series programme and concluded with the latest round of the National Junior Series, with the winners rolling over the line seven and a half hours after the start of the first race - and just 20 minutes behind schedule.
The conditions and the tight, twisty Curborough circuit meant that escapes were the exception to the rule throughout the day, but the sheer power and pace of the Junior race was destined to change that.
The first half of the race was a time for testing your legs with a number of riders making probing moves off the front of the pack for short spells - including Series leader Alistair Slater of Hargroves Cycles and team mate Owain Doull, Josh Papworth of Cult Racing and Matthew Holmes of Wallis Cycles.
The big move of the race came just after the halfway point when a group of five riders - Ashley Marshall of Aire Valley Racing, Declan Byrne of Brooks Cycles, Hugh Carthy of Team Jewson, Jordan Hargreaves of Wallis Cycles and James Newey of Maxgear RT slipped away and opened up a 15 second gap on the bunch.
Apparently content to let them stay there, the main field started to get twitchy with 20 minutes to go - Stephen Bradbury of AW Cycles attempting to bridge the gap, with Sam Lowe of Raleigh-Avanti RT also reacting and taking Alex Peters of Hackney CC and Dan Snow of Glendene CC with him. That attempt to close the break down failed, but as the peloton moved forward to swallow up the escapees, cracks were showing at the front.
With the Byrne, Marshall and Hargreaves dropping off, Carthy and Newey were looking isolated up front and with 10 minutes remaining they were swept up - Doull and George Moore of organisers CC Giro taking to the front, with Harry Tanfield of Wallis Cycles and Papworth in pursuit, desperately trying to bridge the gap.
Five minutes later and the four escapees were together and looking likely to contest the final sprint when Doull's team mate and winner of the opening round, Jonathan Dibben, slipped off the front of the pack. Planet X's Chris Latham was next to join the chase - surging off the front of the main group in pursuit of Dibben.
Although they were together by the bell, Dibben and Latham were 10 seconds down at the bell and the four escapees knew that they would be sprinting it out for the three podium places. Papworth took the win comfortably, with a tight decision between Tanfield and Doull on the line - with the Wallis Cycles rider taking the decision. Moore took fourth and Latham powered away from Dibben on the run-in to take fifth.
Speaking after the race, Papworth admitted the group had been a little concerned about the break that dominated the middle section of the race.
"It was definitely a threat - it was something to keep an eye on - we just had to make sure the group kept working and trying hard. Everyone was sharing the work and there were some strong riders at the front and we kept the pace high and judged the distance and just didn't let it get too far away," Papworth said.
Despite that, he was able to stick to his plan for the race which he explained.
"To keep on the ball - make sure nothing gets - and away hope it comes down to a sprint. The sprint's my forte," Papworth added.
"Fortunately we got across to Owain and George in the last five laps, so from there it was just try as hard as you could to stay away - it was sort of do or die - and fortunately it came down to a sprint between the four of us, which I came out on top in."
In the Series, Slater retains a comfortable lead with team mate Dibben closing the gap slightly in second place and Luke Grivell-Mellor of Mid-Shropshire Wheelers finishing 14th on the day, but hanging on the third place overall.
1. Josh Papworth Cult Racing
2. Harry Tanfield Wallis Cycles
3. Owain Doull Hargroves Cycles
4. George Moore CC Giro
5. Chris Latham Planet X
6. Jonathan Dibben Hargroves Cycles
7. Sam Lowe Raleigh-Avanti RT
8. Stephen Bradbury AW Cycles
9. Joe Fox Rapha Condor
10. Alistair Slater Hargoves Cycles