A huge entry and a large crowd of supporters gathered in the event village at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes for the fifth round of the British Cycling Youth National Circuit Series.
A chilly breeze and cloud cover that refused to break all day probably contributed to some superb races – and certainly did nothing to discourage some fine attempts to break away – although they may have helped to ensure that few of them stuck.
Daniel Wylei-Morris of Abergavenny RC led most of the opening under 8s race and looked to have it well under control but Niall Colquitt of Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man was never far behind. Three laps may not sound very far, but the under 8s rode the same course as the older riders and they were long laps for riders of that age.
Colquitt and Wylei-Morris came in to the finishing straight for the last time neck and neck with a 20 metre lead on the rest of the field. It was Colquitt that took the sprint with James Donaldson of Mossley CRT leading the remainder of the riders home. Awen Roberts of Towy Riders was the first of the girls home.
Ben Askey of Lichfield City CC, Joshua Tarling of West Wales CRT and Bevan Smith of Maindy Flyers Youth CC settled in at the front of the Under 10s race and never looked like being challenged. Askey tried to lose his two companions, but never quite managed to slip away and the result eventually came down to a sprint between the leading trio and it was Askey who took it from Smith and Tarling.
Libby Smith of Matlock Wheelers won the girls race, ahead of Isabella Escalera of Hillingdon Slipstremers and Alex Hawkins of Palmer Park Velo.
While Ben Askey had tried and failed to get away from the under 10 field, his brother Lewis did manage to gap the field, which largely stayed together behind him. By the chequered flag, Askey had a 25 second lead and was able to celebrate in some style. Ben Tulett of Hargroves Cycles edged out Thomas Timberlake of Dyson Cycles and Owain Roberts of Towy Riders on in the bunch sprint.
Ava May Oxley – Szilaggi of Wakefield Junior Triathlon Club was the first girl ahead of Caitlin Peters of Fareham Wheelers and Poppy Wildman of Nottingham Clarion CC.
The under 14 girls race settled down with a group of a dozen or so riders staying together and working to chase down a number of attacks. Madeleine Gammons of Bourne Wheelers and Lauren Murphy of Team MK did a lot of work on the front, but it was Pfeiffer Georgi of Giant Cycling Club-Halo Films who made the most promising move of the race. She pulled out a sizeable lead and held on for a lap and half out on her own but couldn’t make it stick.
In the end it was an all-Welsh podium with Lowri Thomas of Abergavenny Road Club taking the win from Sophie Williams and Elizabeth Bennett of Cardiff JIF.
There was plenty of action in the under 14 boys race – Anthony Anderson of Kingston Wheelers, National Champion Daniel Tulettt of Hargroves Cycles and - among others - took to the front and strung the pack out, but the elastic wouldn’t break and it was a big bunch that came on to the home straight for the last time.
Tulett – who was a marked man throughout the race and the reason why – Prime laps apart – everything stayed together – did manage to slip clear in the run-in. It was only five metres or so, but it was enough to allow him to compose himself for his celebrations while William Turnbull of Tyneside Vagabonds and Harry Hardcastle of Kirklees Cycling Academy battled to come to the front of the pack behind.
Charlotte Broughton of MG Décor did her best to control the under 14 Girls race and with the pack – and, in particular, Megan Barker of Cardiff Ajax CC, Grace Garner of RST Racing Team and Lucy Shaw of Solihull CC paying as much attention to her as the Boys had done to Tulett in the previous race, it looked like another bunch sprint was on the cards.
Barker, though, had other ideas and pulled out a 10 second lead, before she was joined by Elizabeth Holden of Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man and… Broughton. That turned out to be the decisive move of the race with Broughton leading home the three breakaway riders – pulling out a couple of seconds in the final dash – and Garner winning the bunch sprint 20 seconds later.
Unsurprisingly, the fastest race of the day – by far – was the under 16 Boys Race. More surprising was the fact that a large bunch stayed together for most of the race – despite riders being blown out of the back of the field from the off.
Several riders tried to slip away – Joe Fry of RST Racing Team and Alex Braybrooke of Velocity WD-40 among them early on and Matthias Barnet of Edinburgh RC towards the end – but the bunch wasn’t going to let anyone stay away for long and it regularly reformed and then strung out again.
The finish was marred by a big crash on the penultimate corner which left four riders battered and bruised but the finish was by far the closest of the day with Joe Holt of County Cycles Racing Team taking the win from Joey Walker of RST Racing Team by less than a tyre width with Ellis Kirkbride of Border City Wheelers taking third just behind them. Henry Dawson of Prestige Velo took the bunch sprint.