Tristan Robbins (Cardiff JIF) won the Tour of the Mendips, opening round of the British Cycling National Junior Road Race Series, after victory in the final stage of the event based around Chew Stoke, Bath.
With the weather having wiped out the traditional opening round of the British Cycling Junior Road Race Series, the Cadence Road Race the first year Juniors were thrown right in at the deep end – from 60 minute circuit races to a two-day stage race with seven laps of a blisteringly fast circuit around Chew Valley Lake today, followed by nearly 100km of tough climbing in the Mendips on Sunday.
The popular race saw a full field – despite the absence of some of the top riders who are on national duty at the Junior Paris-Roubaix this weekend. Tao Geoghegan Hart, Oliver Wood, Matt Gibson, Jake Ragan, Chris Lawless and Scott Davies were absent as the field rolled out of the Race HQ on to the Chew Valley circuit but James King of Team Sportscover, Germain Burton of Team De Ver and King’s team mate Jacob Scott were the other second year riders – and, like the other three, all riding on 1st Cat licenses.
But there was plenty of new talent.
The sort out began the first time up the short, sharp ascent of Stoke Hill and, with a couple of minor crashes thrown in for good measure, within a lap a dozen riders had been shelled out of the back and there were seven riders away at the head of the field.
Sean McGovern of Teamwallis CHH Racing Team, Connor Swift of Bike Box Alan/Whiston Velo, Scott Auld of Dirtwheels Cycles, Jack King and James Shaw of Forme Bikes UK, Joseph Wiltshire of Wales Junior Development Programme and Adam Lewis of Wolverhampton Wheelers had an advantage of around 25 seconds over the main bunch on the second climb of Stoke Hill.
By the third ascent, the main field were back together and things settled down for a lap or so – except for a spate of punctures that affected, among others, Stephen Williams of Wales Junior Development Programme and De Ver Cycles’ Germain Burton.
Then, in what would prove to be the decisive move of the race, Zachery May of Wales Junior Development Programme and Harrison Fielding of Poole Wheelers escaped from the head of the race with Joe Evans of Hargroves Cycles RT and James Shaw Forme Bikes UK chasing them down.
As they passed over the dam for the fourth time, Fielding and May had a slender 8 second advantage over their pursuers, with the bunch 25 seconds further back. With the four escapees soon together and working well, the bunch would settle in at a minute and thirty seconds back for the next couple of laps.
They did take a chunk out of the lead with two to go – getting the gap down to forty seconds – and it looked like the leaders might be in trouble, but the main field made no further progress and it was May that lead out the final sprint with Evans and Fielding him hard on his heels.
With 15 metres to go, May knew he had the win wrapped up and celebrated in style, with Evans taking second and Fielding third. Shaw finished a couple of metres back and it was Jake Womersley of Team Sportscover who took the bunch sprint – 38 seconds later - from Charlie Tanfield of Teamwallis CHH RT and Gabriel Cullaigh of RST Racing Team.
The winner – who also picked up the Sprints competition en route with two wins and a third place in the four intermediate sprints - spoke to British Cycling after the race.
“That went pretty well really. A few had gone up the road and then they came back and then there were lads doing quite quick turns just after that and then as they eased, I just went on the counter. One of the other lads went with me and then two bridged across and we were away with four to go.
“The group worked well – all of us worked well – it was good. And then a bit of a long lead out – I lead it from the bottom corner, in the gutter, looking over my shoulder waiting for them to go and then went.”
Had he been aware that the group had been closing the down with two to go? “Yeah we got held up by traffic a couple of times. I don’t know what the Comms are going to do about it – not much they can do, I suppose. And in the end it didn’t matter.”
And can may hold on to the leader’s yellow jersey on tomorrow’s stage? “It’s tough – and I’m coming back from injury, so we’ll see how it goes.”
The riders rolled out of Bishops Sutton for Day 2 of the Tour of the Mendips to face a very different course from yesterday’s rolling, lakeside circuit.
Just shy of 100km, Stage 1 included one 3rd Cat and three 4th Cat climbs – one of which was the finish – and almost 1000m of climbing. The weather had changed, too – gone was Saturday’s bitter cold and sunshine to be replaced by hazy overcast skies – but at least it took the edge off the temperature.
Yellow jersey holder Zach May of Wales Junior Development Programme knew his slender lead of 38 seconds could easily be wiped out on those climbs – and, even if it wasn’t, Poole Wheeler’s Harrison Fielding, Forme Bikes UK’s James Shaw and Hargroves Cycles’ Joe Evans all started on the same time.
The first climb of the day up Burrington Combe was the longest and the hardest. Coming 18km after the start, it wound up 4.7km and 190m of elevation to the brink of Cheddar Gorge and it split the field – at the halfway point Jacob Scott of Team Sportscover, Andy Leigh of Velocity WD-40 and James Knox of Champion System/Maxgear/Base 50 seconds ahead of the main bunch – with Thomas Baylis of Mid-Devon CC, Joshua Cutler of RST Racing Team and Jacob Keatt closing the leaders down.
Over the top, it was Scott who took maximum points in the King of the Mendips competition ahead of Leigh, Baylis and Mitchell Webber of Primera-Specialized.
The second climb took a shorter, if somewhat sharper, route to the top of the Gorge, up Rhodyate Hill and Baylis joined forces with Leon Mazzone of Team Microgaming Isle of Man to gap the field. They pulled out a minute and a half with Baylis taking maximum points at the summit. Peter Cocker of Forme Bikes UK was the first of the chasing pack over the top with Joe Kirkham of Hargroves Cycles RT and Stephen Williams of Wales Junior Development Programme taking the last of the points.
Between the fast descent down the A39 and the second 140m climb, the field came back together with several attacks coming to nothing. But they weren’t finished yet. With the long loop out of the way, they had two laps of the finishing circuit including two climbs of Harptree Hill. First time up and the King of the Mountains points at 160m were divided among a new lead group James King of Team Sportscover, Tristan Robbins of Cardiff JIF, Baylis, Kirkham and Mazzone.
By the final ascent King and Robbins were well clear of the field. As they approached the finish King changed on to the big ring to power past his rival but as he was trying to get on top of the gear Robbins accelerated away. King banged his handlebars in frustration as Robbins celebrated the stage win.
Initially, King given the same time which, thanks to their finishing order on Stage 1 appeared to have given him the overall win. A review of the finish line video, though, showed that the gear change had cost him more than just the stage win – allowing Robbins to pull out a two second gap. That gap meant that Robbins, not King, took the race overall – and, of course, the lead in the British Cycling Junior Road Race Series.
Robbins spoke to British Cycling at the finish: “Today was a really good race – I really enjoyed it. It was quite steady during the first part, but we really started pushing towards the end. I live locally, so I know the climbs really, really well. The first climb gets harder towards the end, so I was waiting until the end but it wasn’t going that hard, so I gently eased myself up using as little energy as possible.
“On the second climb I thought it was probably going to split – I knew people were going out the back – so I made sure I was in the right place, got to the top and then started pushing.
“After that it really slowed down – the breakaway had got something like three minutes and the race was going out the window, so I decided I had to attack and we just stayed away. I was pleased when I got in the break and we were working really well with James and the bunch wasn’t really chasing, so with a lap to go I thought we might have it. But I didn’t know I’d got it until the finish line – I was pushed all the way to the line.”
“I’m really pleased to win overall – I was a bit worried this morning with four riders with a 38 second time gap but once we were away, I knew we could do it.”
Baylis finished outside the King of the Mendips points at the finish, but he’d accumulated enough over the other three climbs to hang on to the title – with Robbins and King tied for second ahead of Scott.
Final General Classification:
1 Tristan Robbins Cardiff JIF 4:59:34
2 James King Team Sportscover @ 2 seconds
3 James Shaw Forme Bikes UK @ 48
4 Gabriel Cullaigh RST Racing Team @ 49
5 Joe Evans Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's @ 55
6= Jake Kelly Team Microgaming Isle of Man @ 1:26
6= Henry Hunter Teamwallis CHH Racing Team @ 1:26
8 Joe Kirkham Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's @ 1:29
9 Jake Womersley Team Sportscover @ 1:31
10= James Knox Champion System/Maxgear/Base @ 1:37
10= Andy Leigh Velocity WD-40 same time
King of the Mendips:
1 Thomas Baylis Mid Devon CC 20
2= Tristan Robbins Cardiff JIF 17
2= James King Team Sportscover 17
4 Jacob Scott Team Sportscover 10
5 Peter Cocker Forme Bikes UK 8
5 Leon Mazzone Team Microgaming Isle of Man 8
7 Andy Leigh Velocity WD-40 7
8 Joe Kirkham Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's 6
9 Gabriel Cullaigh RST Racing Team 5
10 James Shaw Forme Bikes UK 3
1 Team Sportscover 15:01:54
2 Forme Bikes UK @ 4:25
3 Team De Ver @ 5:10
4 Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's @ 5:55
5 Wales Junior Development Programme @ 6:12
6 Team Microgaming Isle of Man @ 6:17
7 Teamwallis CHH Racing Team @ 8:09
1 Zachery May Wales Junior Development Programme 2:36:41
2 Joe Evans Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's same time
3 Harrison Fielding Poole Wheelers CC st
4 James Shaw Forme Bikes UK st
5 Jake Womersley Team Sportscover @38 seconds
6 Charlie Tanfield Teamwallis CHH Racing Team st
7 Gabriel Cullaigh RST Racing Team st
8 Matthew Hargroves Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's st
9 Adam Lewis Wolverhampton Wheelers st
10 Oliver Moors Prestige Velo Club st
1 Tristan Robbins Cardiff JIF 2:22:15
2 James King Team Sportscover @ 2 seconds
3 Gabriel Cullaigh RST Racing Team @ 49
4 James Shaw Forme Bikes UK @ 1:26
5 Henry Hunter Teamwallis CHH Racing Team same time
6 Jake Kelly Team Microgaming Isle of Man st
7 Joe Kirkham Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's @ 1:29
8 Jake Womersley Team Sportscover @ 1:31
9 Andy Leigh Velocity WD-40 @ 1:33
10 Joe Evans Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's same time
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