The Ryedale Women’s Grand Prix combined the penultimate round of the Women’s Series with the Junior Women’s National Road Race Championship and covered two laps of the large, 13.4-mile circuit and one of the slightly shorter 12-mile loop.
With three kilometres to go on the first lap, Nicola Juniper of Echelon Rotor – who had already clinched the overall series title – broke away and had pulled out a seven second gap as the race entered the college grounds.
A slippery bridge over the stream with just over 1km to go caught the bunch out and several of the riders at the front crashed. Although nobody was hurt, the crash rippled back through the group and held everybody up.
Everybody, that is, except Juniper who was almost a minute up by the end of the lap and never looked back. With the leading contenders for the junior race in the bunch, nobody was willing to chase back and the lead stretched out to just under three minutes as the series champion cruised round to a lonely, but impressive solo win.
Behind her, there was enough of a bunch left to make a contest of the uphill finish. Bethany Hayward of Matrix Vulpine – last year’s runner-up in the juniors – went one better this year to take the title and third place overall in the race – just behind Laura Massey of Epic-Scott.
Behind Hayward a pair of RST Racing riders completed the junior podium with Elizabeth Holden taking second and Amy Gornall repeating her bronze from 2013.
Unlike the junior men’s race the previous day, the rain had stayed away for the women’s race but it was back in time for the presentations and looked threatening for the elite men’s race to come.
Speaking to British Cycling after the race, Hayward said: “It was a hard race. I know the course quite well from last year and I knew I had a good chance coming into it, so I just tried to always be on the front up the climbs and make sure I was always with the leaders and just hope that would work.
“There was a crash in the bottom corner when Nicky [Juniper] went, and I got held up in that. I wasn’t really close to Nicky at the time, but I wasn’t really thinking about going away with her because I didn’t want to waste energy – I just wanted to stay in and have a good sprint at the end.
“I know I’m quite good at climbing, so I just tried to push. On the last lap I attacked on the climb and that spread the bunch out quite a bit and I hope that would get rid of a few of the riders and it did.”
Juniper, too, reflected on her race: “It stayed together on the first lap and I tried to keep a high pace on the climb so that we could drop a few, but we only managed to lose five, so with 3km to go on the first lap I did a little attack and then I got pulled back, so I just thought ‘Oh, I’ll go again’ and it stuck. I never looked back. I thought ‘OK, I’ll just TT it away and if I get caught, I get caught’.
“I’ve played it safe all season, so I just thought I’d try something different – and it worked.”
1 Nicola Juniper (Echelon Rotor)
2 Laura Massey (Epic-Scott)
3 Beth Hayward (Matrix Vulpine)