Hargroves Cycles-Specialized rider Joe Kirkham won round two of the British Cycling Junior Road Race Series at Hog Hill.
After the blazing sunshine that bathed the Redbridge Cycling Centre for most of the youth racing earlier in the day, the later afternoon start of the junior race was overcast and much cooler – which, if anything, seemed to make the race faster than it might have been.
After an initial attack by Harrison Fielding of Poole Wheelers and Luke Hattersley of St Ives CC, the early part of the race was dominated by a breakaway group composed, initially, of Levi Moody of RST Racing, Harry Franklin of Team De Ver, Josh Cutler of Team ASL 360, Joe Kirkham of Hargroves Cycles and Charlie Tanfield of Team Wallis.
The group of five edged out towards a forty second gap before it started to fracture. Franklin went first, then Tanfield. Max Stedman of AW Cycles, Tristan Robbins of Cardiff JIF but, by the time of the first Prime it was Fielding back on the front of the peloton that took it from Ashley Dennis of Team De Ver and Robbins.
Robbins followed Moody home as the RST Racing rider took the second Prime ahead of Connor Swift of Bike Box Alan/Whiston Velo – the bunch still together at this point. Several riders – including early leader Fielding – tried to slip away, but it was Kirkham who finally made the decisive move with Callum Ferguson of Halesowen A&CC.
The two worked well together and a couple of attempts to bridge the gap came to nothing as they continued to ease away. At the bell, Kirkham made his moved and dropped his companion, who gradually dropped back in to the clutches of the peloton. Kirkham took the win and Ferguson – 20 seconds back by this point – just managed to hold off the charging peloton.
Rob Westwood of Cwmcarn Paragon took the bunch sprint from Germain Burton of Team De Ver and Gabriel Cullaigh of RST Racing.
Kirkham was delighted with the win, telling British Cycling after the race: “It was really tough – just really grippy. Everyone was marking each other – a few riders wanted to commit and went early, so I went with them and then it just came down to the last few laps.
“I made a move with Callum Ferguson and just managed to get away from him on the last lap. He was trying to come back to me and he was riding really well but I just managed to hold him off.
“It’s been a decent start for me. I had a decent ride at the Mendips and obviously a win here, so I’ll just take it from here, see what I can do and just enjoy my racing.”
With only Gabriel Cullaigh of RST racing also having finished in the Top 10 riders in the first round Tour of the Mendips, the series is wide open as the riders head to Loughborough next weekend – which should also see the return of the Great Britain squad riders who have been on international duty for the first two rounds.
1. Joe KIRKHAM Hargroves Cycles-Specialized
2. Callum FERGUSON Halesowen A&CC
3. Rob WESTWOOD Cwmcarn Paragon
4. Germain BURTON Team De Ver
5. Gabriel CULLAIGH RST Racing Team
6. Harry FRANKLIN Hargroves Cycles-Specialized
7. Joshua PARKIN Aprire Bicycles
8. Christian BRAYBROOKE Velocity Race Team-WD40
9. Adam LEWIS Wolverhampton Wheelers
10. Kristian WOOLF Prestige Velo Club