NFTO Pro Cycling’s Jon Mould took victory in the Leicester Castle Classic, the penultimate round of the British Cycling Elite Road Series.
For a short race, the Leicester Castle Classic seemed to take a long time to develop. In the early stages the bunch split in two with 30 or so riders in the front group. The chase group split shortly after and then the lead group broke apart, leaving four distinct bunches of riders spread round the technical 4.1-kilometre circuit around the heart of the city and through the cobbled section of the Castle Yard.
Shortest of the races it might have been, but it was much more of a kermesse circuit than the shorter laps of the criterium series and the relatively long laps did allow breaks to develop. The lead group split and reformed several times with Madison Genesis’ Pete Hawkins working hard early on, followed by Pete Williams and Jake Womersley of Haribo Beacon. Never out of contention, but holding a watching brief was overall series leader, Team Raleigh’s Yanto Barker.
With the group reformed, it was NFTO’s Jon Mould that made the decisive move of the race and peeled away from the bunch. Velosure-Giordana’s Matt Cronshaw, who suffered a mechanical and had to chase back on, was instrumental in limiting the size of his lead.
As the lead went out, Cronshaw, along with Team Raleigh’s George Atkins, Metaltek-Kuota’s Rhys Lloyd and Mould’s team mate Josh Hunt, took on the job of chasing him down. Mould, though, was in no mood to be caught and for several laps matched the pace of the chasers as the main bunch began to slip away.
Lloyd crashed out of the race and the chase group was now down to three.
The three chasers gradually chipped away at Mould’s lead and with three laps to go they were all together, some 35 seconds ahead of the bunch. Womersley attacked of the main group, although his chances of bridging the gap looked slim.
At the bell, the 23-year-old Welshman attacked and was pulled back, but he was first out of the last corner on to Western Boulevard and with Hunt distanced it was a three-way sprint with Atkins and Cronshaw. Atkins, from Leicestershire, came close to making it a home win, but it was Mould who held on to take the win while Cronshaw took third.
Womersley had made inroads in to the leaders and stayed well clear of the bunch to take fourth just 14 seconds behind Mould. Atkins’ team mate Ian Wilkinson took the bunch sprint by a narrow margin from Yanto Barker (Team Raleigh).
Speaking afterwards, Mould reflected on the race and the three weeks that preceded it: “It split really early on. There was a group of 19, we had Josh [Hunt] and Sam Williams in it and then I attacked and was away on my own for a couple of laps and then got caught by Josh and George and Matt Cronshaw, and I think Rhys Lloyd was coming across but he crashed on the way, so a bit disappointing for him.
“But me and Josh just attacked the race as much as possible but they were too strong to attack, really and then it was just down to the sprint.
“I got to the corner first and then held on. I knew Josh and George, and Matt, would all sprint well on their day so I thought I’d just have to hope for the best and it came off.”
Mould also spoke of his disappointment at the Commonwealth Games
“My whole season was built around it and [Mould’s coach] Steve Benton knows that and if I could swap all my race wins I’ve won this year for a Commonwealth medal then I would, so I’m still slightly disappointed about that.
"I think my form has come three weeks too late. I got a little bit ill just before the Commonwealth Games and that just knocked me for six and took the edge off me. It’s nice to get the win and get the hands in the air. It was a good race you can attack and get stuck into.
"It’s a very technical course – and it’s got pretty much everything a standard kermesse course has, to be honest – everything you’d hope for – flat out racing.”
1 Jon Mould (NFTO Pro Cycling)
2 George Atkins (Team Raleigh)
3 Matt Cronshaw (Velosure-Giordana)
4 Josh Hunt (NFTO Pro Cycling)
5 Jake Womersley (Haribo Beacon)
6 Ian Wilkinson (Team Raleigh)
7 Yanto Barker (Team Raleigh)
8 Marcin Bialoblocki (Velosure-Giordana)
9 Ed Clancy MBE (Rapha Condor-JLT)
10 Jacob Scott (Haribo Beacon)