Richard Hepworth (Cycle Premier) won the Clayton Velo Spring Classic handicapped event on the Bashall Eaves circuit near Colne in Lancashire, sprinting to victory ahead of his eight breakaway rivals at the end of the 55-mile event on Sunday.
The 25-year-old from near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire held off his rivals to secure the first victory of 2012 for Cycle Premier – although their second victory soon followed with team-mate Jake Martin winning the South East League race in Kent which begun an hour later at Gravesend.
All the signs were that Rapha Condor-Sharp would dominate the race with nine riders entered for the popular early-season race, most of whom were in the scratch group and chased hard to catch the first few groups on the road.
The scratch group slowly reeled in the longmarkers as they peeled off the laps of the four-mile circuit, and with four laps to go the race was all together, save for Chris Lawless (Champion Systems) who was soon back in the bunch.
A lap later and the decisive move was made with eight riders clipping off the front of the bunch – although Hepworth was not among them.
He shot across shortly after, and the nine-strong group began to pull away, with Rapha Condor-Sharp’s Richard Handley and Mike Cuming, Metaltek’s Simon Wilson, Dave McGowan (UK Youth), Rob Smail (Team Wallis), Sam Jackson (Vanilla Bikes) and Herbalife’s Robbie Hassan and Andy Hawdon.
With two riders in the break the rest of the Rapha Condor-Sharp team were happy to let the break go clear, and they gained around 30 seconds on the remains of the bunch.
As the bell sounded the attacks started, and both Handley and Cuming tried to break clear but were pulled back.
Jackson led out the sprint, but Hepworth tagged on his wheel quickly. Jackson stopped sprinting with about 300 metres to go, but Hepworth carried on and just managed to hold his effort to the line.
What they said
“When the break went and I wasn’t in it, I really shot up the road because I didn’t want to miss out,” said race winner Richard Hepworth. “I was surprised that Rapha Condor-Sharp let the break go because, although they had two guys in the break, neither are great sprinters, and I wouldn’t have fancied their chances in a sprint as there were better guys up there.
“Sam Jackson led out the sprint, but he stopped with about 300 metres to go and I just went for it. It was a long way out because it’s a slightly draggy finish and I expected someone to come round me, but nobody did.
“I felt really good all day, and was getting across the groups with ease, although obviously Rapha Condor-Sharp were governing things with lots of riders in the race.
“It’s a big win for both me and the team. I’m really looking forward to the Soens and the CDNW League event next week, and then we’ll be riding the Tour Series and the Premier Calendar too, so it’s hopefully going to be a big season for us.”
1 Richard Hepworth Cycle Premier 1:55:30
2 David Mcgowan UK Youth
3 Robbie Hassan Herbalife
4 Andrew Hawdon Herbalife
5 Simon Wilson Metaltek Scott
6 Robert Smail Team Wallis
7 Mike Cuming Rapha Condor Sharp
8 Sam Jackson Vanillabikes.Com
9 Richard Handley Rapha Condor Sharp
10 Declan Byrne Cyclepremier RT
11 Ben Greenwood Vanillabikes.Com
12 Richard Lang Rapha Condor Sharp
13 Alistair Rutherford Vanillabikes.Com
14 Chris Sherriffs Team Bglobal
15 Kristian House Rapha Condor Sharp
16 James King Mountivation Academy
17 Dean Downing Rapha Condor Sharp
18 Oliver Rossi Rapha Condor Sharp
19 Andy Coupe Herbalife
20 Hugh Carthy Champion Systems
21 Sam Boast Hope Factory RT
22 Ben Dean Team Bglobal
23 Conan Mayman Team Bglobal
24 Chris Jennings Rapha Condor Sharp
25 Luke Grivell-Mellor Rapha Condor Sharp
26 Steve Gibson Peak RC
27 Hamish Graham Asfra RT
28 Harry Grey Vanillabikes.Com
29 Chris Latham Champion Systems
30 Matt Pilkington Team Bglobal
31 Francis Pilkington Nickson RT
32 Jacob Ragan Champion Systems
33 Ben Kellett VS Cycles
34 Andrew Leigh Velocity RT
35 Chris Lawless Champion Systems
36 Nathan Harrison Buxton CC
37 William Thomas Velocity RT
38 Stuart McCluskey Leslie Bikes
39 Josh Knights Mountivation Academy
40 Shane O'Neil Team Bglobal
41 Richard Bott Herbalife
42 Ady Lawrence Team Bglobal
43 Jody Warrington Rock Racing
44 Graham Payne Whitfield RT
45 John Crellin Team Wallis
46 Ash Finn Vanillabikes.Com
47 Cal Nicholson Team Wallis
48 Jack Waller Team Wallis
49 Tom Barras Metaltek Scott
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.