Location: Preston, Lancashire
Event: 19 May 2012
Report: Ed Rollason
The Northwest Regional Championships was held today on a pan-flat circuit around Out-Rawcliffe, north of Preston.
With many riding in the Tour of Ireland or in Norway, it was a slightly diminished field with many of the familiar Premier Calendar faces absent. Ian Wilkinson (Endura) was due to ride and turned up at the HQ, only to admit that he'd had his bike fall of the roof of his car. Without the might of Endura behind him there wasn't a spare so he was out.
The pace was high from the off as by now there was almost no wind and the sun was starting to come out. Matt Cronshaw (Node4-Giordana) was active on the front from the start and it was clear that it was going to be a fast and furious race.
On lap 2 Vanilla Bikes put two riders up the road but they were quickly chased down. Vanilla were having a storming ride and as soon as the group came back together another rider would go. On lap 4 11 managed to escape and built a lead of over 30s. However, the chase was quickly organised and by lap 6 the bunch was all back together again, the main bunch having swept up 5 chasers, broken up, reformed and broken up again before making the catch.
As the bunch went through the finish and received the bell, Ben Greenwood (Vanilla Bikes) was off the front and Cronshaw buried himself to get across. Working together the pair managed to hold off the bunch and Cronshaw took the sprint for the win. Greenwood was followed in by Ben Dean of B-Global).
Speaking after his win, Cronshaw said: "That was quite a tricky race. Vanilla Bikes were super strong and were putting two or three men into each move. Also a lot of guys were looking at me to do a lot of chasing.
“I think I showed my cards a little early, and on the last lap Vanilla were just attacking and attacking. Then Ben (Greenwood) went and the bunch died a little so I jumped across and we just rode round. I led out the sprint. If it had been uphill it might have been a different story but this course is made for me."
A strong field of approximately 50 riders took the start for the Category 3 and 4 race, starting 10 minutes behind the diminutive group of juniors. With the wind dying down across the flat course the bunch held together without significant upset. With such a large group the pace was high and some of the more inexperienced riders were dropped but it also made it difficult to make a break.
With 3 laps gone the stronger riders began to flex their muscles and a small group clipped off the front, however it was quickly brought back, and the bunch was together as they took the bell. However, the pace quickly ratcheted as the favourites started to think about the win and the main bunch began to split up. A sizeable group contested a bunch sprint with Jeff Vernon (Birkenhead North End) taking the win from Bill Gray (Kuota) and Chris Quin (Macclesfield Wheelers).
A disappointing field of only 14 junior riders contested the first race of the day under grey skies and occasional drizzle. With major representation from Mountivation and MaxGear, with other teams only fielding 1 or 2 riders, it was always likely that they would boss the race and so it proved. On lap 1 3 riders escaped from the field, Matt Flyn and Thomas Armstrong of Mountivation, taking Hugh Carthy from MaxGear with them. The trio worked well together and quickly built up a commanding lead of 3 minutes.
There was little coordinated activity from the chasing pack, although Tom Bracegirdle (Team Elite) and the riders from Team Wallis-CHH and Velocity 3in1 were all active on the front. As the laps counted down, the remaining MaxGear riders in the main group put in a strong effort to try and give Carthy some support but by then it was far too late.
The 3 leaders were still over a minute ahead as they entered the last kilometre and into the view of the spectators at the finish line. With an advantage in numbers the odds were always likely to be stacked against Carthy and so proved as Flyn attacked early, expecting to be pulled back but allowing Armstrong, the strongest sprinter, to take the win. However, his attack was too strong for his breakaway companions and he crossed the line first to take the win. Henry Hunter (Wallis-CHH) escaped from the main bunch on the drag up to the line and was able to take 4th.
Matt Flyn spoke to British Cycling afterwards and said: “The bunch was so small that when you get a group of three or four away there are only smaller teams left and no-one is prepared to chase. An early break was always going to stay away. I felt good but knew I didn't have it in the sprint. I knew Tom did though, so I went early and made Hugh do all the chasing to let Tom take the win.”
1 Matt Cronshaw NODE4 Giordana Racing 2:48:23
2 Ben Greenwood Vanillabikes.com st
3 Ben Dean Team Bglobal at 30s
4 Simon Wilson metaltek-scott st
5 Matthew Pilkington Team BGlobal st
6 Jack Pullar Wheelbase.co.uk/MGD st
7 Steve Abbott Teamwallis-chh.com st
8 John Crellin TEAM WALLIS-CHH st
9 Milan Sihelsky kuota GSG Spinergy st
10 Shane O'Neill Team B Global st
11 Jonathan Cregeen Biketreks RT st
12 Michael Ashurst Champion system/Maxgear/Kyklos st
13 Richard Bott Herbalife / Leisure Lakes Bikes st
14 Alistair Rutherford vanillabikes.com st
15 Samuel Jackson Vanillabikes.com RT st
16 Harry Grey Vanillabikes.com st
17 Grahame Sumner wheelbase/mgd st
18 David Williams Kuota GSG Spinergy st
19 Stephen Smith Vita Race Team st
20 Mark Lovatt planet x at 41sec
21 John Hopkinson Aire Valley Cycles st
22 Andrew Hawdon Herbalife / Leisure Lakes Bikes st
23 Craig Battersby Team bGlobal at 53sec
24 Tony Greenhalgh WHEELBASE/MGD at 3:35
25 Chris Sherriffs Team Bglobal st
26 Hamish Graham ASFRA Racing Team st
27 Mike Fugaccia liverpool century st
28 Nick Giles Fibrax Wrexham r.c. at 6:12
29 Michael Rawson Champion System/Maxger/Kyklos st
30 Martin Woffindin Cycle Sport Pendle st
31 Julian Pearson Vanillabikes.com st
1 Jeff Vernon Birkenhead North End 2:07:55
2 Phil Gray Kuota GSG Spinergy
3 Chris Quin Macclesfield Wheelers
4 Doug Arnold Liverpool Century RC
5 John Agnew LUNE RCC
6 Lee Carter ribble valley crc
7 Tom Walsh Lancs RC
8 Christopher Taylor Border City Wheelers
9 Steven Clarke Wheelbase / MDG
10 Dean Bennett liverpool century rc
11 John Clegg ribble valley
12 John Bamford Lancashire Road Club
13 Paul Woodrow St Helens CRC
14 Rick Flynn GMP Racing
15 Dan Walker Clayton Velo
16 Col Hodgson St Helens CRC
17 Craig winter border city wheelers
18 Andrew Turner Manchester Wheelers
19 John Guy high on bikes rt
20 Mike Rothwell Manchester Wheelers
21 Robert Lockhart Cyclesport International RT
22 DENNIS LANG clayton velo
23 Mark McPhillips Stockport Clarion
24 Shaun Pearson Science in Sport
25 Geraint Parry Liverpool Century
26 James Warren Bill Nickson Cycles RT at 47s
27 Roy Pearson Ribble Valley CRC at 53s
28 Andrew Markham lancaster st
29 Sam Dobson Lune RCc st
30 Adam Blakeley Pendle forest cc st
31 Dane Walker Team iOptix.co.uk st
32 Jon Connah gmpracing st
33 Jason Dobson manchester wheelers st
34 Leigh Cowell Kuota Spinergy GSG st
35 Ryan Pike High on Bike RT at 1:20s
36 Barry Durkin high on bikes st
37 simon wilkes liverpool century st
38 Gwilym Morris Manchester Wheelers st
39 Paul Molyneux Birkenhead North End CC at 10:24s
40 Tony Weston Liverpool Century at 11:40s
41 Gareth Collom GMC FIRE AND RESCUE st
42 Mark Pickles Manchester Wheelers st
43 Tim Passmore Liverpool Century RC at 1 lap
44 Martin Stout Saddleworth Clarion at 1 lap
1 Matt Flynn Mountivation Junior Academy 2:11:02
2 Thomas Armstrong mountivation junior academy at 13s
3 Hugh Carthy MAXGEAR/ CHAMP/ SYS KYLOS at 15s
4 Henry Hunter Teamwallis CHH at 4:35s
5 Joshua Knights Mountivation Cycling Academy st
6 Andy Leigh Velocity RT st
7 Tom Bracegirdle Team Elite st
8 Jacob Ragan Champion systems / maxgear st
9 Luc Hall Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos st
10 William Thomas Velocity RT st
11 Jake Cowen Biketreks Racing Team at 5:20s
12 James Knox Mountivation Junior Academy at 15:20s
13 Jordan Rigby Teamwallis CHH RT st
14 Callum Young Biketreks RT st
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.