Mike Northey (Madison Genesis) secured victory in the Beverley Grand Prix, round four of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series, after attacking his breakaway rivals near the end of a thrilling race around the East Yorkshire town.
Despite threats of thunderstorms, the clouds parted an hour before the start of the first support race and the historic East Riding town of Beverley was bathed in sunshine for the latest round of the Series.
Another blisteringly fast race saw a four-man break away consisting of New Zealand Circuit Race Champion Mike Northey, newly-crowned British Circuit Champion Adam Blythe of NFTO and Matt Cronshaw of Velosure-Giordana and Chris Opie of Rapha-Condor JLT slip away within the first four laps.
Within a couple of laps Blythe and Opie had dropped back and were joined by Opie’s team mate and Wednesday night’s winner in Colne Graham Briggs with Cronshaw and Northey a couple of seconds ahead.
That was as far as they got, though, before being rejoined by Blythe and Briggs and just over 10 minutes in to the race, the pattern was set. 50 minutes plus 5 laps is a long time to stay away, but as the gap widened out to a minute and beyond – with the fastest laps coming in at around 1:28 – the question wasn’t whether the group would stay away, it was whether they would lap the field.
The twisty nature of the Beverley circuit meant that the group probably never quite caught sight of the tail of the field, although they came very close. But the leaders and the peloton knew the game was up and both slowed. The gap dipped under a minute and then five seconds over before, with five laps to go, Northey made his move and exploded off the front of the race.
He opened up a five-second gap in the initial attack and continued to power away from the chasers. Within a lap the gap was 15 seconds and Northey was in danger of catching the bunch again, so the decision was taken to give the bunch the bell with two to go.
That proved to be the right decision as Northey was just over 10 seconds off the back of the bunch as they heard the bell and it was NFTO’s Dean Downing who took the bunch sprint for fifth ahead of Adam Duggleby of Wheelbase Altura and Opie.
Northey was in among the back of the bunch as he cruised home to take an excellent win that should give him confidence ahead of the his Commonwealth Games Road Race in two weeks, while Blythe won the sprint for second ahead of Briggs and Cronshaw.
Afterwards, Northey reflected on the length of time the break was away: “It was the same as last year really – same situation – although last year it was five away, I think – Raleigh missed it and were chasing again. But obviously it was one better – I was second last year.”
And was the solo break at the end because he needed to, or just because he felt he had the legs? “Yeah, that was the plan. I was just trying to work out timings and do it when Briggsy and Blythe were not on my wheel so I could have a good crack and catch them by surprise. But I definitely didn’t want to have to take them to the line. And Cronshaw isn’t someone you want to take to the line. The safest way to win a race is by yourself, and I had Roger [Hammond] telling me to get away from them and it worked out well.”
And why go at that particular point? “Positioning – where they were. Adam had just taken a turn and I was on Briggsy’s wheel and I kind of caught them by surprise in the cobbles as well, so it’s the hardest part. I just pinned my ears back and went as hard as I could.”
“I’ve been chasing a win all year – I came close at the Lincoln – but today’s the best I’ve been for a while. I’ve just come off a break, so just trying to get back in to it and build up for the Commonwealth Games.”
Beverley Grand Prix (British Cycling Elite Circuit Series):
1 Mike Northey (Madison Genesis)
2 Adam Blythe (NFTO Pro Cycling)
3 Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor-JLT)
4 Matt Cronshaw (Velosure Giordana)
5 Dean Downing (NFTO Pro Cycling)
6 Adam Duggleby (Wheelbase Altura)
7 Chris Opie (Rapha Condor-JLT)
8 Alex Blain (Team Raleigh)
9 Andrew Hawdon (KTM Road and Trail)
10 George Atkins (Team Raleigh)
1 Iona Sewell (GB Cycles)
2 Flora Gillies (Speg-Project 51)
3 Brit Tate (GB Cycles)