Middlesbrough’s Harry Tanfield secured victory in the Hatherleigh Junior Road Race, the latest round of the National Junior Road Race Series, when the 17-year-old sprinted clear of his rivals at the end of the 70-mile race on Sunday.
As Devon struggled to deal with aftermath of floods that hit the previous day, the Primal Europe Hatherleigh Junior Road Race rolled untroubled through the Dartmoor National Park, past the now full to capacity Roadford Lake reservoir.
Local rider Seb Baylis - currently in 6th place in the National Series – was looking to make up ground on the Series leaders. Baylis started the day 27 points behind series leader Alex Peters, who crashed heavily at the last round and failed to score, but it was the next few riders that he had in his sights.
Tao Geoghegan-Hart of CC Hackney (4 points off the lead) and equal third-placed Jon Dibben of Hargroves Cycles (9 points further back) were both travelling back from Portugal where they were involved in the Junior European Track Championships - along with Dibben’s team mate and National Champion Sam Lowe and Maxgear Racing’s Christopher Latham.
By contrast, the other rider with real prospects of improving his standing was the winner of the last round Chris Lawless of Maxgear Racing - tied with Dibben in third place – who’d made the long journey down from the North West. Sadly, a snapped chain in the early stages of the race ended his challenge.
As the riders crested the 16% climb at Thorndon Cross there were three riders way - Harry Godding of PM Racing and the Cadence Cannondale pair of Ashley Martin and Jack Plummer. The leading trio had pulled out a lead of almost a minute within the first 8 miles of the 63 mile course, with the peloton split into two sizeable groups but with riders already being dropped off the back of the race.
By Roadford Lake – a third of the way through the race – the early leaders were will away, but the lead was down to 30 seconds and the chase group down to seven riders. That group included Series Leader Peters, Henry Hunter and Harry Tanfield of Team Wallis CHH, Jacob Ragan of Maxgear Racing, Craig Wallace of Granite City RT, Mitchell Webber of Andover Wheelers and George Pym of Exeter Wheelers.
Between the reservoir and the feed station just before half distance Peters, Tanfield, Wallace and Pym bridged across to the leaders and the new group of seven would now control the race, easing away from a disintegrating field.
The race turned back towards Hatherleigh and two circuits of the finishing circuit with the seven leaders two minutes ahead of local hero Baylis and Jake Womersley of Sportscover Altura RT with what remained of the peloton the best part of three minutes behind them.
The gaps held through two laps of the finishing straight and the leading seven riders approached the finish together with Peters and Tanfield taking charge of the bunch sprint. The lead pair distanced themselves from their break away partners on the run-in and it was Tanfield who hit the front and held off Peters on the line with Pym the best of the rest.
Womersley beat Baylis to eighth with Frazier Carr of AW Cycles taking 10th on the line in the bunch sprint from the largest of the remaining groups.
Speaking to British Cycling after the race, Tanfield explained that he thought the day had gone well. “I didn’t really plan to get in the break straight away – it was a long race. I lost my speedo about 15 miles in, so I had no idea how long we’d been going for or how far we had to go – which was a bit annoying! So I just had to keep going.
“It was a good group with seven or eight people in it and once we go organised and rolling through, we had a good pace and I couldn’t see it coming back together after that. I was suffering a bit up the long drags, but when we got on to the flat and the rolling stuff and it was good.”
And the final sprint? “I didn’t really plan for that! Some guy attacked really early – on the back part [of the finishing circuit] and then we rolled back to him and I heard some gears going down behind me so I started to sprint then and it went alright!”
1 Harry Tanfield Team Wallis CHH 2:36.44
2 Alex Peters Mosquito Bikes
3 George Pym Exeter Wheelers
4 Ashley Martin Cadence Cannondale
5 Harry Godding PM Racing
6 Craig Wallace Granite City RT
7 Jack Plummer Cadence Cannondale
8 Jake Womersley Sportscover Altura RT @ 2:00
9 Sebastian Baylis Mid-Devon CC
10 Frazier Carr AW Cycles @ 3:34
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.