Chris Lawless (Kuota-Spinergy-GSG) took a solo victory in the Bath Junior Road Race on the Cublington circuit at Stewkley in Buckinghamshire, penultimate round of the National Junior Road Race Series on Sunday.
The first lap was largely uneventful with Jake Kelly of Team Microgaming Isle of Man, Chris Lawless of Kuota-Spinergy, James King of Team Sportscover and last week’s winner Scott Davies of Liverpool Mercury leading the bunch up the finishing climb first time around.
An eventful second lap saw two large crashes, the second of which resulted in the race being halted for just over 10 minutes as Team ASL360’s Hamish Carrick was taken to hospital. In between the two crashes, Lawless and Velocity WD-40’s Matt Gibson slipped off the front of the bunch and as the lap came to a close, the two leaders had thirty seconds on the first group of chasers – Jake Scott of Team Sportscover, Joe Kirkham of Hargroves Cycles-Specialized and Jacob Ragan of Champion System-Maxgear – with the bunch a further 25 seconds back.
And that was how things stayed for much of the rest of the race. Callum Ferguson of Halesowen, Stephen Williams of TeamWallis CHH Racing Team and Dan Gardner of ASL 360 joined the three chasers, but they were now a minute and a half behind the leading duo – with Tom Bayliss of Mid-Devon CC giving it everything to bridge across to the chasers.
With a couple of minor changes – Germain Burton of Team De Ver and Adam Lewis of Wolverhampton Wheelers replacing Bayliss, Williams and Ferguson - the chasers were still a minute and a half behind Lawless and Gibson with two to go but the gap to the peloton was down dramatically.
By the bell it was clear that Gibson had given everything and as they climbed towards the finish line, Lawless started to ride away from his breakaway companion. Behind them – just forty seconds behind – the peloton was now all together with Davies at the head of the chase.
With the lead cut in half over the previous lap and the bunch now looking purposeful, it seemed unlikely that Lawless could hold on to his lead but, impressively, he dug in a stretched the lead out again. By the time he hit the bottom of the climb he’d pulled out another 20 seconds and took a thoroughly deserved win.
Burton led the sprint out, but Wood came round him in the last couple of metres to snatch second with Gabriel Cullaigh of RST Racing Team taking fourth ahead of James King of Team Sportscover and Adam Lewis of Wolverhampton Wheelers.
What they said
Flawless Chris Lawless spoke to British Cycling after the race: “I knew Matt was strong so when I got away I knew he was a good person to be away with. I tried to use him as much as possible, really, I knew he’d give good turns.
“I could tell he was tiring on the last few laps so I just rode hard up there – on that last climb, the second to last time and I dropped Matt and then I just time-trialled it home.
And was he confident that he could stay away? “I wasn’t confident – I knew I had a good chance, but I didn’t know – I thought it’d be pretty close.”
The Series takes a break for just over a month – although some of the riders will be involved in the World Track Championships in Glasgow and many more in the National Track Championships in Manchester in the first half of August – before the huge finale at the epic Junior Tour of Wales over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
With no rider having one two rounds, today’s results mean that Kelly, Cullaigh and King lead the standings but with 110 points up for grabs in Wales, the overall is still wide open.
1 Chris LAWLESS Kuota-Spinergy-GSG
2 Oliver WOOD Team Sportscover
3 Germain BURTON Team De Ver
4 Gabriel CULLAIGH RST Racing Team
5 James KING Team Sportscover
6 Adam LEWIS Wolverhampton Wheelers
7 Ben CHAPMAN Team Corley Cycles
8 Tristan ROBBINS Cardiff JIF
9 James SHAW Forme Bikes UK
10 Joe KIRKHAM Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized
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