Ben Stockdale (Metaltek-Scott) won the elite race at the Thames Velo Spring Road Races near Great Milton, Oxfordshire, on Sunday.
After a glorious spring morning, the E123 race started in changeable weather conditions – although the hail storm that affected a number of races across the country – passed through harmlessly between the two races.
Steve Lampier of IG-Sigma Sport made a move on the climb two thirds of the way round the first lap and dragged a handful of other riders with him.
As things sorted themselves out, a group of 16 riders – including Lampier, until he punctured as well as last year’s winner Ben Stockdale and four of his Metaltek-Scott team mates and three quarters of the RST Racing Team contingent. Another ten riders were 20 seconds down on the lead group, with the main bunch another 15 seconds behind as they hit the climb for the second time.
Simon Wilson of Metaltek made a move from the lead group on the run up the final drag on lap 3, pulling out 10 seconds on the first part of the group led by Matthew Jones of Team Corley Cycles. The group had split in two on the second, smaller climb on the lap and was starting to disintegrate.
At the end of the penultimate lap it was all change at the front with Tommy Bustard of Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com leading Stockdale and Nicholas Baker of Team Zappi’s up towards the bell. They had 30 seconds on Jones and the remnants of the breakwaya, but with the wind picking up all the time, it was always going to be hard for a small group to stay away.
It took most of the remaining 15 mile lap for the gap to come down – but it never closed completely. Stockdale rode away from his two companions on the run-in to give himself time to straighten his jersey and celebrate in style.
Baker rolled over a couple of seconds later with Bustard just four seconds ahead of Stockdale’s team mate James Gullen who came closest to closing the gap. A third Metaltek-Scott rider – Tom Barras – took 5th outsprinting the hard working Jones at the head of what was left of the break.
Speaking to British Cycling after the race, Stockdale confided: “I’d had a bit of a dip in the past month or so with injury and stuff. Justin [Hoy] said last year as we were chatting at start that I would win and I did and he said it again today.
“It was a great effort by the team - we covered all the moves and bossed the race. I was lucky to get away in the move that stuck - we got 5 riders in that front group. I think the split was just due to the speed on the first few laps. I like the finish as well so was confident of the win after such a great team effort.
“We could see [the remains of the group] were closing. But my team mate James Gullen had bridged across, so he just buried himself at the end because he knew I had the better finish.”
The day’s races had started with a 3/4 Cat race over 68km. Although the pace of the race was high enough to ensure that riders were shelled out of the back pretty much from the start, the main bunch remained together for the bulk of the race.
William Macke of AW Cycles’ Junior Team took the first Prime – a hit of what was to come later in the race.
There were efforts to get away – particularly on the climb on the back half of the circuit - but none managed more than a couple of hundred metres before being hauled back in. So it came down to a bunch sprint with George Withers – another AW Cycles Junior – at the head of the field.
Conscious that team mate Joseph Crolla was close behind him Withers almost allowed himself to be caught as he tried to arrange a team 1-2, but it wasn’t to be.
Withers held on to take it from Matt Bone of i-Team and Rob Shirland of Kingston Wheelers, with Crolla taking fourth.
Afterwards Withers told British Cycling “It’s a pretty tricky hill – pretty steep – not for from the finish, but Frazier [Carr] and Will [Macke] gave me a bit of a hand getting to the front – so, yeah – a good race overall. At the finish I knew I had someone on my outside – I didn’t see him at first - but it was a close finish at the end.”
1 Ben Stockdale Metaltek-Scott
2 Nick Baker Team Zappi
3 Tommy Bustard Herbalife-Leisure Lakes
4 James Gullen Metaltek-Scott
5 Tom Barras Metaltek-Scott
6 Matthew Jones Team Corley Cycles
7 Jake Hales Team IG/Sigma Sport
8 Mark Baines Spirit RT
9 Simon Wilson Metaltek-Scott
10 Tom Stewart RST Racing Team
11 Paul Londors Spin-Rotor Racing Team
12 Lewis Atkins Twenty3c.co.uk Orbea
13 John Wager Felt-Colbornes RT
14 Luke Dunbar Performance Cycles-CMI U23
15 Danny Axford Arctic SRAM RT
16 Conor Ryan Performance Cycles-CMI U23
17 Lee Davis Node 4 - Giordana Racing
18 Simon Henley Team Corley Cycles/Blue
19 Lee Smith Felt-Colbornes RT
20 Edward Clemens VC10
1 George Withers AW Cycles
2 Matt Bone i-Team CC
3 Rob Sharland Kingston Wheelers
4 Joseph Crolla AW Cycles
5 Richard John Spirit RT
6 Richard Stanton Arbis LLP/Roy Pink Cycles
7 Gareth Dickinson Fanborough/Camberley
8 Niall Digby La Fuga/Sigma Sport
9 Thomas Crouch High Wycombe CC
10 Jonathan Marchini Beeline Bicycles
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.