Tao Geoghegan Hart (CC Hackney) took first place in the Bath RC Junior Road Race on Sunday. It is the latest win for the 17-year-old who has enjoyed a string of good results this year.
The Cublington Circuit in Buckinghamshire saw the penultimate round of the National Junior Road Race Series under clear blue skies with just enough of a breeze to ensure that the finishing climb wasn’t the only obstacle for the riders to overcome. Series leader Alex Peters of Mosquito Bikes saw Harry Tanfield of Teamwallis leapfrog into second place after his win at the last round in Hatherleigh, but Peters’ 2nd place actually extended his lead.
The early stages of a fast paced race - which saw the riders complete the rolling 20km course at 30 minutes a lap – were full of action with several failed attempts to get away – including a long solo effort from Tao Geoghegan Hart – but every attempt failed as the race regrouped. The only real change was at the back as the pace saw a constant stream of riders dropped from the main group.
With two to go Jacob Ragan of Maxgear Racing and Adam Lewis of Wolverhampton Wheelers finally made a move that looked like it might stick – coming over the finishing climb with two laps to go 25 seconds ahead of the chasing bunch.
By the bell, the leading group was up to seven riders and contained most of the usual suspects – Lewis had faded but Ragan was still there and now had team mate Hugh Carthy for company, as well as Geoghegan Hart, Peters, Will Stephenson of Primera Racing, Joe Kirkham of Hargroves and Peter Hale of Scotland.
It was a strong group and had stretched the lead out to 42 seconds but with National Champion Sam Lowe of Hargreaves Cycles chasing hard and the now somewhat depleted bunch just 7 seconds further back it wasn’t inevitable that they would stay away.
Stay away they did, though – until Geoghegan Hart and Carthy made their move on the run-in. As they turned on to the final climb, it was the CC Hackney rider who sailed up the hill to take the win by a sizeable margin – but talking to British Cycling after the race, it was clear that it was a far from comfortable win.
“That was hard! Just back from a track block and my legs haven’t been good since, really, but I’m getting there. My climbing legs are just taking a bit of time to come back, but they’ll be there. My calves were going a bit by the end.
“It was good for me that it was uphill at the end. It was a good race, actually – I like the course. It’s nice to be on lanes rather than dual-carriageways – the last round there were some big roads, so that was a real positive today.
“The first two times up the climb were real hard, so I was a bit worried. But people go backwards during the race, so you’ve just got to be a bit patient. On the long straight there was a bit of crosswind – but I was moaning the other week that we haven’t had a windy or sunny road race, so it’s nice to have a bit of both!
“I had a mechanical all day – every time I pushed on the chain was jumping, so I couldn’t get out of the saddle much today – maybe I should do that more often!
“Because it’s up and down all day the bunch can go real fast – the first break that went, we had 30 seconds and then - Bam! – we could see the bunch about a hundred metres back. So I went on my own for about 6km and then it came back together. And then a few little groups went and then me and Alex [Peters] went across. Everyone was working well – everyone was coming through – there was good respect from the riders.”
“[The final climb] It’s nice – it suits me. It’s a bit like Cadence at the start of the season. And Hugh was really strong at the end – hats off to him, he was real, real strong – we worked together well, but I was hurting at the end.”
Looking forward to the final round of the Series – the Tour of Wales – “We’ll see how it goes. It’ll be even harder with teams and juggling around… It should be OK. Hopefully I’ll get selected for the Worlds as well – that’s a big aim for the back part of the season.”
Stephenson finished third – five seconds behind the winner and a second or two up on Kirkham. Hale, Ragan and Peters – who maintains his series lead – all managed to get home ahead of the bunch and it was Lowe that took the bunch sprint for 8th – almost 50 seconds behind the winner.
1 Tao Geoghegan Hart (Cycling Club Hackney)
2 Hugh Carthy (Champion System/Maxgear)
3 Will Stephenson (Primera-Specialized)
4 Joe Kirkham (Hargroves Cycles-Specialized)
5 Peter Hale (Scotland)
6 Jacob Ragan (Champion System/Maxgear)
7 Alex Peters (Mosquito Bikes)
8 Sam Lowe (Hargroves Cycles-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's)
9 Germaine Burton (Team Der Ver)
10 George Pym (South West)
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.