Ian Wilkinson took victory for Team UK Youth in the Stockton Grand Prix, round four of the Premier Calendar, staged in sweltering heat on Sunday afternoon. With temperatures of 25 degrees and a light breeze blowing, conditions were described as perfect for racing.
There was an early break as the race went out of Stockton to the north-west area of countryside as the undulating 10-lap course took in the villages of Thorpe Thewles, Carlton and Whitton.
Ten riders got away on the first lap - Sam Harrison (100% ME), Tom Scully (Raleigh), Yanto Barker (Team UK Youth), James Moss (IG-Sigma Sport), Dave McGowan (Metaltek), Jamie Scott (MG Maxifuel), Alistair Rutherford (Wheelbase), Mike Cumming (Rapha Condor JLT), Dan Barry (Node4g-Gordana) and Dominic Jelfs (Madison Genesis).
Herbalife Leisurelakes missed the break with their riders James Sampson, Andrew Hawden and Harry Tanfield all going to the front of the main peloton in an attempt to bring the break back
But the 10-man break enjoyed freedom for about six laps of that circuit. Eventually, with the work carried out by Herbalife and a few others, the break came back together.
Then, as the race came back into Stockton, another break formed which proved to be race winning break. This was dominated by Raleigh who had five riders involved, including Premier Calendar leader Tom Stewart.
10%ME had three riders looking to give Simon Yates the win and Team UK Youth had only two riders in the mix - Ian Wilkinson and Tobyn Horton. Rapha Condor JLT, Metaltek, Node4-Giordana, Herbalife and IG-Sigma Sport were all represented in the group of 16.
When the riders reached the town centre after the 10 laps of the big circuit, they went onto a finishing circuit which they had to complete six laps of.
With one lap of this smaller riverside circuit covered, Mike Northey (Node4-Giordana) prised a five-second gap off the front of the leaders.
The other 15 riders seemed quite content to let Northey dangle off and his lead never went beyond 15 seconds although he stayed clear for two laps.
At the bell, Alistair Slater (100%ME) drove the leaders up to Northey and immediately attacked. The finishing circuit had strong tailwind sections but as the riders headed back, they were riding into a strong headwind and Slater soon found himself back in leading group of 16.
Team Raleigh were looking for a repeat of last year’s success and with Tom Stewart, Evan Oliphant and Graham Briggs, all good sprinters, it looked like their plan was to launch one of their riders in the final 200m.
At the end of the race, the Raleigh plan looked as though it would work. Then, Wilkinson of Team UK Youth, riding very close to the barriers, slipped underneath Briggs and Oliphant to take a superbly timed win on the line
Briggs came second and Oliphant third. Local rider Harry Tanfield topped off a very successful weekend with the under 23 prize and also the best local rider accolade.
Ian Wilkinson said after the race: “I started off the season with a great win at Rutland but this is my first Premier Calendar win this year.
“The form is coming together, I’m just going to take a few days as a break now then start preparing for Abergavenny. We’ve got a busy few weeks of racing and my form is just coming at the right time.
“This circuit at Stockton should be the template for how races are run in this country. A big circuit out in the country then back into the town centre for a finishing circuit makes for a great race.”
1 Ian Wilkinson (Team UK Youth) 4:12:23
2 Graham Briggs (Team Raleigh)
3 Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh)
4 Ben Stockdale (Metaltek Knights of Old)
5 Peter Williams (Team IG-Sigma Sport)
6 Harry Tanfield (Herbalife Leisure Lakes Bikes)
7 Mike Northey (Node4-Giordana)
8 Tom Stewart (Team Raleigh)
9 Tobyn Horton (Team UK Youth)
10 Simon Yates (100%ME) All @ same time
11 Rhys Lloyd (Metaltek Knights of Old) @ 3 seconds
12 Luke Grivell-Mellor (Rapha Condor JLT) @same time
13 Samuel Harrison (100%ME) @ 18 seconds
14 Alistair Slater (100%ME) @ 26 seconds
15 Tom Moses (Team Raleigh) @ same time
16 Mark Christian (Team Raleigh) @ 31 seconds
17 Richard Handley (Rapha Condor JLT) @ 3:23
18 Christopher Ope (Team UK Youth) @ 3:30
19 Dan Barry (Node4-Giordana)
20 George Atkins (100%ME)
21 Marcin Bialoblocki (Team UK Youth)
22 William Bjergfelt (MG Maxifuel)
23 Gruff Lewis (Metaltek Knights of Old)
24 Ben Greenwood (Team Hope Factory Racing) all @ same time
25 Greg Mansell (Team UK Youth) @4:04
26 Felix English (Rapha Condor JLT)
27 Andrew Hawdon (Herbalife Leisure Lakes)
28 Tom Barras (Wheelbase Altura)
29 Roman Van Urden (Node4-Giordana)
30 Christopher Latham (100%ME)
31 Tom Murray (Metaltek Knights of Old)
32 Jack Pullar (Madison Genesis)
33 Luke Ryan (Twenty3c.co.uk)
34 Samuel Lowe (100%ME)
35 Matt Cronshaw (IG-Sigma Sport) all @ same time
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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.