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Round One South West Youth Series - 1st Chard Wheelers Spring Circuit Races

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Event :1st Chard Wheelers Spring Circuit Races
Location: Merryfield Airfield ILTON, Somerset
Event: 18 Mar 2012
Report: William Hornby
Images: Charles Whitton


1st Chard Wheelers promoted the event at a rather cold and wet Ilton Airfield but this did not deter a good turnout of eager racing cyclists taking part in the first round of the series.


All of the Youth A & B girls and boys were started together, all competing to be the first recipients of this year’s Yellow leader’s jersey.

To replicate the longer distances faced at National Series events the race was also increased to 40 minutes plus a lap although, this did not lessen the overall speed of the race.

In the girls’ race the four strongest riders, Erin Martin, Alex Sheehan, Hester Stembridge and Molly Pilgrim quickly established a lead over the others in the field. At about half distance in the race, Martin was dropped from the now leading three girls who looked comfortable or at least controlled as they continued to work together until the finish. The podium was in doubt until the line when Pilgrim narrowly defeated Stembridge in a closely fought sprint closely followed for third by Alex Sheehan.

At the end of the first of some thirteen action-packed laps Ryan White 1st Chard Wheelers set the precedent for an extremely aggressive race amongst the boys’ taking a flyer down the left hand side of the road. After only approximately ten minutes of what seemed like very fast racing, the decisive move was made by Will Kelly, Tom Baylis and Joel Kelly all from Mid Devon CC.

The three leaders quickly established a good working group, although it seemed initially that to strike for the finish so soon would be an error of judgement against what was at the time a bigger chase group of eight or so riders. During the first couple of laps of the break, it did not appear that the leading three riders were significantly increasing their lead. As the laps progressed, however, it became clear that those left in the chase group collectively had less power left to bring back the winning move and were also gradually losing riders who may have helped the chase. One of the strongest of the chasing group was the unfortunate Duncan Heywood who, after puncturing, then abandoned the race.

At the finish, Joel Kelly took the win by less than half a wheel from Baylis with Will Kelly completing the boys’ podium. The chasing group was led in by Ricky Parsons closely followed by Seb Dickens the only Youth B to make it into the top ten.

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