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Held over 5 stages that wind their way through - and over - the Brecon Beacons - the Junior Tour of Wales is a prestigious event in its own right. But it also marks the final round of the Junior National Road Race Series and provides a bumper crop of points that can change the complexion of the Series.
This year, Ali Slater of Hargroves Cycles goes in to the event with a commanding 66 point lead and it's hard to see him being caught - but with 110 points available it is possible. Alex Peters of CC Hackney, team mate Jon Dibben and Luke Grivell-Mellor of Mid-Shropshire Wheelers are all within range.
Report: Stage 5
The final stage of the Junior Tour of Wales was an eventful one with National Series winner designate Alistair Slater of Hargroves Cycles away for much of the race with team mate Jonathan Dibben for company.
At the foot of the climb for the first King of the Mountains point the eight riders who had been away in the early stages were swallowed up and it was good to see Alex Peters of Eastern region - struggling for form all weekend -first over the top. Matt Holmes of Teamwallis CHH was first of the following bunch, just ahead of Luke Grivell-Mellor of Mid-Shropshire Wheelers and yellow jersey holder Brennan Townshend of Team Southwest.
At the first points classification sprint Hugo Humpreys of Mosquito Bikes picked up the maximum score ahead of Daniel Young of the Bristol Cycling Development Squad, Brock Duncomb-Rogers of the Progressive Cycling Development Squad and Christopher Dredge of the Central divisional squad.
By the second - uphill - sprint after the Moors Dibben and Slater were away it was Slater who took the points from Dibben with Ryan Mullen of Planet X leading the chasing group and taking third place ahead of William Worrall of Wales. Slater took the final Points classification win too, to tie up the Green jersey competition with Dibben securing second place overall.
Warwick Sanderson of the Isle of Man and Harry Tanfield of Teamwallis CHH took the final points of the Tour.
With Slater and Dibben first over the top of the penultimate climb to collect the King of the Mountains points, Holmes extended his lead in the jersey competition with third ahead of Grivell-Mellor.
As they started the final gruelling climb up Tumble Mountain Slater was away alone as Dibben's work on Slater's behalf finally started to hurt him as he slipped back into the field. In the last 1500 metres or so he was caught and passed by a group of riders containing Stage 4 winner Owain Doull who surged away to take his second consecutive stage win. Behind him Townshend pipped Ed McPartland of Yorkshire on the line to take the overall win with Holmes following Junior National Road Race champion Dan Pearson - riding for Wales - home to clinch the King of the Mountains jersey.
With Doull sixth on GC, Slater ninth, Sam Lowe seventeenth and Dibben twenty-third, the Hargroves Cycles team took the team classification by eight and a half minutes, ahead of Yorkshire and Townshend's Team Southwest. The Tour also confirmed Slater as winner of the National Junior Road Race Series.
Stage 5 Result
1. Owain Doull Hargroves Cycles/Specialised/Trant 2:29:44
2. Brennan Townshend Team Southwest 2:29:53
3. Edward McPartland Yorkshire 2:29:53
4. Dan Pearson Wales 2:29:54
5. Matthew Holmes Teamwallis CHH Racing Team 2:29:58
6. Hugh Carthy Team Jewson 2:29:58
7. Alex Peters Eastern 2:30:01
8. Luke Grivell-Mellor Mid-Shropshire Wheelers 2:30:03
9. Will Stephenson Bournemouth Arrow 2:30:04
10. Alistar Slater Hargroves Cycles 2:30:11
Final General Classification
1. Brennan Townshend Team Southwest 7:01:49
2. Matthew Holmes Teamwallis CHH 7:01:59
3. Luke Grivell-Mellor Mid-Shropshire Wheelers 7:02:31
4. Jonathan Cregreen Team Microgaming Isle of Man 7:02:55
5. Hugh Carthy Team Jewson 7:03:28
6. Owain Doull Hargroves Cycles 7:03:49
7. Will Stephenson Bournemouth Arrow 7:03:51
8. George Moore CC Giro 7:03:58
9. Alistar Slater Hargroves Cycles 7:04:03
10. Matt Clarke Halesowen 7:05:32
Final Points Classification
1. Alistar Slater Hargroves Cycles 21
2. Jonathan Dibben Hargroves Cycles 18
3. Jim Lewis Glendene CC 12
4. Owain Doull Hargroves Cycles 10
5. Hugo Humphreys Mosquito Bikes 8
6. Will Stephenson Bournemouth Arrow 8
7. Ryan Mullen Planet X 7
8. Daniel Young Glendene CC 6
9. Ash Martin Bristol Cycling Development Squad 6
10. Josh Papworth Cult Racing 6
Final King of the Mountains Classification
1. Matthew Holmes Teamwallis CHH 14
2. Luke Grivell-Mellor Mid Shropshire Wheelers 11
3. Brennan Townshend Team South West 11
4. Owain Doull Hargroves Cycles 6
5. Will Stephenson Bournemouth Arrow CC 6
6. Alex Peters BC Eastern Region 5
7. Jonathan Dibben Hargroves Cycles 5
8. Jonathan Cregreen Team Microgaming Isle of Man 5
9. Michael Barnes Colour-Tech RT 5
10. Alistar Slater Hargroves Cycles 4
Final Team Classification
1. Hargroves Cycles/Specialised/Trant 21:11:52
2. Yorkshire 21:20:21
3. Team South West 21:20:39
4. Wales 21:20:45
5. Teamwallis CHH Racing Team 21:22:49
6. Glendene CC/Ridley/Vitesse/OCELazer/Exustar/Torq 21:24:22
7. Team Microgaming Isle of Man 21:26:29
8. Team Nemesis GB 21:26:54
9. BC Central Region 21:29:57
10. Scotland 21:41:07
11. BC Eastern Region 21:41:29
12. AW Cycles 21:59:26
13. Planet X 22:07:38
14. BC East Midlands 22:12:55
15. Progressive Cycle Coaching Development Squad 22:26:53
16. Mid Shropshire Wheelers 22:31:44
17. BCDS-Bristol Cycling Development Squad 22:47:20
18. Team Jewson/Thule/KinesisCNP/MI Racing 31:27:50
Report: Stages 3 and 4
After yesterday's time trial and road races - both with mountain finishes - the second day saw two very different stages. Stage 3 was a short - 29.5km - circuit race at Bryn Bach Park over 10 laps of a hilly, tight and twist circuit. Stage 4, by contrast, was a mix of fast, flat(ish) winding country roads and long stretches of dual carriageway.
Hilly or not, Stage 3 was despatched at an average speed of just over 40km/h and was dominated by two riders - National Junior Road Race Series leader Alistair Slater of Hargroves Cycles and Jim Lewis of Glendene. Breaking away on lap one, they stayed away for the duration as the race fragmented behind them.
With a lead that was around two minutes at one point, they mopped up the Points jersey sprints on lap three - Slater taking the win while Matt Holmes, second on GC, took third at the head of the bunch with Matt Clarke of Halesowen in fourth.
Three laps later it was Slater again ahead of Lewis - the pair now well into the process of lapping back markers - for the second Points sprint. Josh Papworth of Cult Racing was on a charge and took third with Luke Grivell-Mellor of Mid-Shropshire Wheelers taking the Final point.
The lead started to come down in the closing stages with the charging bunch taking gap at the finish down to just 59 seconds as Lewis came round Slater in the closing stages to take the win, with Slater's team mate and green jersey holder Jonathan Dibben taking the bunch sprint.
The points at the finish and on the intermediate sprints on the stage moved Lewis into contention in the Points competition - tied for second on 12 points with Dibben, just a point behind new leader Slater. Chris Latham of Planet X, Matt Haase of Cardiff JIF and Hargoves' Sam Lowe picked up the remaining points at the finish.
Slater's second place moved him up from 10th to 7th on GC - and effectively ended Grivell-Mellor's outside shot at the Series title. The top 6 on the General Classification remained unchanged, with Brennan Townshend of Team Southwest still on top ahead of Holmes, Grivell-Mellor, Jonathan Cregreen of the Isle of Man, Dibben and George Moore of CC Giro. Slater sat two minutes and thirteen seconds behind Townshend, but just one minute and three seconds behind Dibben and nearly 19 minutes ahead of Alex Peters of CC Hackney - his only remaining rivals for the title.
With three riders in the top six, Hargroves Cycles remained at the top of the team classification - but only by a minute and twenty seconds from Teamwallis CHH. With a sprint finish likely on Stage 4 they would almost certainly be there over night but it was a lead that could easily be overcome on the final stage up Tumble Mountain.
The fast - 44km/h average - Stage Four was next and the action opened with a sprint at Hardwick - just 8.7km into the stage. Daniel Young of Glendene went from a long way out and opened a massive gap to take the points from Joseph Moses of Yorkshire, Richard Horton of Bournemouth Jubilee and Luke Cornish of Wales. The bunch came back together after the sprint but by the time they passed back through Hardwick again an hour later there was a bunch of fifteen riders away - a bunch that contained Hugh Carthy of Team Jewson, Cregeen, Ryan Mullen of Planet X and Will Stephenson of Bournemouth Arrow - all of them there or thereabouts on GC.
The break approached Hardwick for the second time and it was Doull that took the sprint with Stephenson close behind. Ash Martin of the Bristol Cycling Development Squad took third and Chris Latham of Planet X the single point.
On the final loop some of the bunch came across to the break as the two main groups started to break apart on the approach to the finish. It was Doull, again, first across the line to take the stage win and move himself into the top four behind Slater, Dibben and Lewis - none of whom scored on the stage. Stephenson was four seconds behind at the finish - and moved up to eighth on GC as a result - with Jack Barrett of Scotland a dozen seconds behind him.
The first small bunch - George Pym of Team Southwest, Clarke and Martin - arrived 43 seconds behind Doull and the bunch containing Slater, Carthy and Cregreen twenty seconds behind them. Townshend and Holmes arrived with the fast charging main bunch - headed by Stephen Bradbury of AW Cycles who crashed heavily at the finish of the recent Python RT Road Race and is riding with 12 stitches in his face and a broken wrist - a minute and twenty six seconds behind the winner.
The time gaps in the General Classification have reduced but the order remains largely unchanged - Townshend still leads from Holmes with Cregreen moving ahead of Grivell-Mellor and Dibben remains third. Slater drops to ninth behind Stephenson with Doull up from 22nd to 11th. In the teams classification Hargroves Cycles extended their lead to four minutes.
Tomorrow sees a gruelling 95km stage with three Points and three King of the Mountains classification points - including the finish on Tumble Mountain. Everything is still up for grabs.
General Classifcation after Stage 4
1 Brennan Townshend Team Southwest 4:31:56
2 Matthew Holmes Teamwallis CHH 4:32:01
3 Jonathan Cregreen Isle of Man 4:32:23
4 Luke Grivell-Mellor Mid-Shropshire Wheelers 4:32:28
5 Jonathan Dibben Hargroves Cycles 4:32:49
6 George Moore CC Giro 4:33:07
7 Hugh Carthy Team Jewson 4:33:30
8 Will Stephenson Bournemouth Arrow 4:33:47
9 Alistar Slater Hargroves Cycles 4:33:52
10 Ryan Mullen Planet X 4:33:53
Report: Stages 1 and 2
Stage one was a short prologue time trial of 7.5km. What that simple description hides is that it starts and a hill and finishes on a mountain with barely 50 metres of flat road in between. The Final 2.7km up the ‘easy' side of Tumble Mountain (in, characteristically, a strong side wind) would prove to be of unusual significance this year because confusion over the starting order - with riders being slotted in out of sequence - meant that not all of the riders' times could be confirmed - although the timing for the King of the Mountains competition for those last few kilometres was complete. After much debate and consultation, it was decided to award everyone with the same time for the full stage - effectively removing it from the results - but to award the King of the Mountains points.
That was good news for Will Stephenson of Bournemouth Arrow, who topped the time sheets and led the competition going in to Stage 2. Not so good for those hoping to use the time trial as a springboard for an assault on the General Classification.
Stage two rolled out from the race headquarters in Nantyglo for a rolling 72.4km stage - the last 6km of which was anything but rolling - for a 7.4km neutralised section before the start of the stage proper - which gave the riders just 5km to prepare for the first real action of the day.
Hugo Humpreys of Mosquito Bikes took the first sprint at Llangyndir from Brennan Townshend of Team Southwest, Daniel Young of Glendene CC and Chris Latham of Planet X.
Up the wide, exposed dual carriageway of the A470 where there was a welcome feed station and through Llanhamlach a break away of a dozen riders passed the first of the day's two King of the Mountains points and it was Grivell-Mellor first across the line, followed by Hugh Carthy of Team Jewson, Jonathan Cregeen of the Isle of Man and Matthew Holmes of Teamwallis CHH.
The next action came in Talgarth where Jon Dibben took the sprint to pick up 4 points for the Points competition with Josh Papworth of Cult Racing second, Ryan Mullen of Planet X third and George Moore of CC Giro taking the final point.
As the race retraced its steps on the way to the foot of the final climb it passed back through Llangyndir for the third and final sprint of the day. Dibben took maximum points again, to claim the Points jersey for Stage 3 and Mullen, Carthy and Papworth mopped up the rest. Dibben leads Mullen by three points in that competition.
As they hit the bottom of the climb, the weather turned. The only consolation for the riders was that the wind and driving rain was coming at them across the mountain, giving them some shelter from the worst of it - and that it was brief. The officials and spectators at the summit probably got the worst of the weather.
The race split up on the climb with early pace setters Townshend and Grivell-Mellor caught and passed by Wallis - who opened out a 5 second gap on Townshend to take the stage with Grivell-Mellor slipping back to finish third 27 seconds behind the stage winner. Cregreen was third, another 30 seconds back with Dibben ten seconds behind him. the last of the riders came in looking very much the worse for wear 35 minutes after the winner.
Townshend's 10 second bonus leap frogs him over Holmesin the General Classification with a 5 second lead overall. Series leader Slater is down in 10th.
The stage finish was also the second King of the Mountains point, with Holmes taking maximum points to put him second in the overall standings behind Grivell-Mellor whose third place at the finish gives him a slender 1 point lead at the top on 8. Townshend's second place lifts him to fifth overall - tied on 5 points with Cregeen and Michael Barnes of Colour-Tech RT. Stage 1 King of the Mountains winner Stephenson drops to third, but only two points off the lead.
The loss of the 10 points for the time trial have clearly helped Slater's chances of maintaining his Series lead. Despite finishing third on stage 2, Grivell-Mellor's chances of snatching the win look are now marginal and Peters' misfortune has made things much harder for him. The main challenge looks like it will come from his team mate who's currently 5th on GC.
General Classification after Stage 2
1 Brennan Townshend Team South West 2:07:31
2 Matthew Holmes Teamwallis CHH 2:07:36
3 Luke Grivell-Mellor Mid-Shropshire Wheelers 2:08:03
4 Jonathan Cregreen Isle of Man 2:08:31
5 Jonathan Dibben Hargroves Cycles 2:08:41
6 George Moore CC Giro 2:08:42
7 Hugh Carthy Team Jewson 2:09:45
8 Josh Papworth Cult Racing 2:09:54
9 Ryan Mullen Planet X 2:10:08
10 Alistar Slater Hargroves Cycles 2:10:43
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.