On what was probably the best day of the year so far, a huge contingent of youth riders across all age groups gathered at the Redbridge Cycling Centre for the Hog Hill Grand Prix.
With no less than 102 riders taking the start of the under 16 boys event – and the wall of noise from the massed ranks of parents and supporters on the final climb made it feel more like Belgium than Essex.
With the riders lapping the hilly course in well under the three minute mark it was difficult for anyone to slip away from the field. Karl Baillie of Witham Wheelers and Alexander Braybrooke of Velocity WD-40 slipped away up the hill and edged out a handful of seconds, but the pack was never far behind.
Braybrook dropped out and Baillie stretched the lead out to 20 seconds before being caught by Joe Holt of County Cycles Racing Team, Jack Escritt of Velocity WD40 and Callum Anderton of Motivo RT.
Their 10 second lead didn’t last long and the bunch was back together for the finish with Holt breaking away as the ‘Hoggenberg’ kicked up at the turn for the finish. He was a second clear of the bunch at the line with Joey Walker second for RST Racing Team and Matthew Walls third for Velocity WD-40.
The under 16 girls race was a very different story with a strong bunch working well together to keep the pace high. Emily Haycox of Cardiff Ajax made the early move, getting almost 20 seconds on the field at one point before coming back to the group.
It was another solo effort, though, that defined the race with Abby Mae Parkinson of RST Racing making her move half an hour in to the 45 minute race and simply riding away from the field. Henrietta Colborne of Beacon Wheelers tried to bridge the gap – and, ultimately, was rewarded with second place for her efforts, but Parkinson was in a class of her own.
By the finish she was 51 seconds clear of Colborne with the field – led home by Megan Barker of Cardiff Ajax – another seven seconds back.
In what was a remarkably varied day of racing, the Under 14 Boys race – another monster field of 84 riders – was run at under 10 seconds a lap off the pace of the Under 16s and, with National Champion Daniel Tulett controlling things at the head of the field, always looked likely to end in a bunch sprint – the only race of the day to do so.
And it was no surprise to see Tulett rewarded for his efforts with the win – just gapping the field on the run-in with Rhys Britton of Cardiff JIF taking second, inches ahead of Anthony Anderson of Kingston Wheelers.
The under 14 girls race saw a similar pattern to the under 16 race with Jessica Roberts of Towy Riders breaking away from an almost exclusively Welsh lead group and easing away into an unassailable lead.
By the finish she was 48 seconds clear of the fast fragmenting bunch. Lowri Thomas took second for Abergavenny Road Club with Pfeiffer Georgi of Giant Cycling Club-Halo Films a couple of seconds back and just clear of a trio of Cardiff JIF riders – Sophie Williams, Elizabeth Bennett and Bethany Maunders.
In the combined under 12 race Lewis Askey of Lichfield City CC broke away in the closing stages to take a comfortable win ahead of an incredibly close bunch sprint which saw Owain Roberts of Towy Readers take second by a 0.04 seconds from Ben Tulett of Hargroves Cycles.
The under 12 girls were rather more spread out with Caitlin Peters of Fareham Wheelers taking the win – finishing just 10 seconds behind Askey and 16 ahead of Elynor Backstedt of Maindy Flyers. Elena Smith of Matlock CC took third, 40 seconds behind Backstedt.
Joshua Tarling of West Wales Cycle Racing Team took the win in the under 10 boys – comfortably clear of another very close finish for second – 0.049 seconds this time separating second placed Bevan Smith of Maindy Flyers and Ben Askey of Lichfield City CC. Anna Wadsworth of Palmer Park Velo was a second ahead of Libby Smith of Matlock CC with Maya Teufel Tarlton giving the organizing club a podium a dozen seconds further back.
Not to be outdone by the solo efforts of Roberts and Parkinson, Daniel Wylie Morris of Abergavenny Road Club went from the gun and never looked back in the Under 8 boys race – building up a 21 second cushion in a 16 minute race.
Finn Hawkins of Palmer Park Velo took second five seconds ahead of James Donaldson of Mossley CRT. Awen Roberts of Towy Riders was even more dominant in the girls race – two laps up on Victoria Asker of West Suffolk Wheelers with Greta Carey of Palmer Park Velo third, a further lap back.
Under 16 Boys
1 Joe HOLT County Cycles Racing Team
2 Joey WALKER RST Racing Team
3 Matthew WALLS Velocity WD-40
4 Thomas BICKNELL Pro Cycle Hire UK Racing Team
5 Nathan DRAPER Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man
6 Reece WOOD Aire Valley Racing Team
Under 16 Girls
1 Abby Mae PARKINSON RST Racing Team – Trigon
2 Henrietta COLBORNE Beacon Wheelers
3 Megan BARKER Cardiff Ajax CC
4 Abigail DENTUS Team De Ver
5 Elizabeth HOLDEN Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man
6 Bethany TAYLOR Bristol Cycling Development Squad
Under 14 Boys
1 Daniel TULETT Hargroves Cycles
2 Rhys BRITTON Cardiff JIF
3 Anthony ANDERSON Kingston Wheelers
4 Charles PAGE Hillingdon Slipstreamers
5 Fred WRIGHT VC Londres
6 Theo HARTLEY Bolton Hot Wheels CC
Under 14 Girls
1 Jessica ROBERTS Towy Riders
2 Lowri THOMAS Abergavenny Road Club
3 Pfeiffer GEORGI Giant Cycling Club – Halo Films
4 Sophie WILLIAMS Cardiff JIF
5 Elizabeth BENNETT Cardiff JIF
6 Bethany MAUNDERS Cardiff JIF
Under 12 Boys
1 Lewis ASKEY Lichfield City CC
2 Owain ROBERTS Towy Riders
3 Ben TULETT Hargroves Cycles RT
4 James CODD Maindy Flyers Youth CC
5 Guto DAFYDD Towy Riders
6 Thomas GLOAG VC Londres
Under 12 Girls
1 Caitlin PETERS Fareham Wheelers Cycling Club
2 Elynor BACKSTEDT Maindy Flyers Youth CC
3 Elena SMITH Matlock CC
4 Elena SHAW Maindy Flyers Youth CC
5 Anna ARMSTRONG Border City Wheelers CC
6 Becky SURRIDGE Hillingdon Slipstreamers
Under 10 Boys
1 Joshua TARLING West Wales Cycle Racing Team
2 Bevan SMITH Maindy Flyers Youth CC
3 Ben ASKEY Lichfield City CC
4 Thomas DAVIES Welwyn Wheelers CC
5 Caelan MILLER Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club
6 Joe KIELY Welwyn Wheelers CC
Under 10 Girls
1 Anna WADSWORTH Palmer Park Velo
2 Libby SMITH Matlock CC
3 Maya TEUFEL TARLTON Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club
4 Alexa HAWKINS Palmer Park Velo
5 Zoe BACKSTEDT Maindy Flyers Youth CC
6 Molli KEENOR Team Milton Keynes
Under 8 Boys
1 Daniel WYLIE-MORRIS Abergavenny Road Club
2 Finn HAWKINS Palmer Park Velo
3 James DONALDSON Mossley CRT
4 Arlo CAREY Palmer Park Velo
5 Thomas WADSWORTH Palmer Park Velo
6 Finlay TARLING West Wales Cycle Racing Team
Under 8 Girls
1 Awen ROBERTS Towy Riders
2 Victoria ASKER West Suffolk Wheelers
3 Greta CAREY Palmer Park Velo
4 Rebecca CODD Maindy Flyers Youth CC
5 Isabel KOCH Bolton Hot Wheels CC
6 Eilidh WHITE Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club