Ireland's Eddie Dunbar (Sensa Munster) completed a dominant display in the NFTO Junior Tour of Wales with his second solo stage win in Monday’s finale to stretch his overall advantage to just under five minutes.
Dunbar rode away from field on the final four-mile climb of The Tumble to take the stage and consolidate the yellow jersey with a final winning margin of 4-51 over Alexander Braybrooke, whose Velocity WD-40 team-mate Matthew Gibson completed the podium and also snatched overall victory in the season-long National Series.
The weather had held all weekend, but it broke on Sunday for the final stage of the NFTO Junior Tour of Wales. It didn’t rain from start to finish, but it was raining at the start and at the finish – and much of the time in between.
The first classified climb of the day at Baverstocks Hotel saw King of the Mountains leader Ben Chapman (Central Region) take maximum points with Joe Wiltshire (Wales) in second, Umberto Poli (Team Novo Nordisk) third and Chapman’s team mate Gabriel Evans in fourth.
At the first sprint point at Penderyn – just inside the Brecon Beacons National Park – it was Scott Auld (PH MAS) who picked up his first, but not last, points of the Tour with Evans second, Joe Holt (Wales) third and Matthew Gibson (Velocity WD-40) fourth.
As the race headed on to the moors a series of pairs of riders broke away and returned to the pack, but a group of four eventually formed at the front with stage three winner Oliver Maxwell (Catford CC), Sean Noon (Edinburgh Road Club), Auld and Evans going away and Basque rider Josey Weik (Beste Alde Orue Eskola) stuck in no man’s land between the leaders and the peloton.
At the second sprint point, at the Storey Arms, it was Evans who pipped Noon to the win with Auld third and Maxwell fourth. By the next King of the Mountains point at Bwlch the lead group had swollen to seven riders with Welk, James Shaw (HARIBO Beacon) and Dan Gardner (Speg-Project 51) joining the original group of four and sitting a minute ahead of the bunch which was starting to come apart. It was Gardner who took the win with Shaw second, Auld third and Maxwell fourth.
Shaw took the final sprint of the Tour at Crickhowell with Noon second, Auld third and Maxwell fourth, meaning that Auld – without a point before today - would leap up to sixth in a competition that saw 25 riders, a quarter of the starters, score. It also meant that Holt took the Green Jersey, seven points clear of Leon Mazzone (BH Solidor Isle of Man 3lc.tv).
Then, as he did on stage two, Dunbar went on the attack, catching the now doomed lead group and dropping them before the start of The Tumble and riding unchallenged to the stage and overall win.
At the finish, as the weather closed in, Dunbar was 41 seconds clear, extending his overall lead to 4-51.
There were King of the Mountains points at the finish which consolidated Dunbar’s second place and confirmed Chapman as the overall winner. Stephen Williams (Wales) finished second on the stage which moved him into fourth with Gardner’s third place, coupled with his win at Bwlch, secured him third.
Dunbar summed up his weekend: “I did a good time trial – I was fifth – and I knew I was in a good position going in to the second stage because we did the race last year, so we knew what to expect. I went with about 30k to go in the second stage. I was feeling good, so I thought I might as well go and see what happens – I knew I had the legs – and the risk paid off. I had a good few minutes so that gave us some leeway.
“The third and fourth stages were fin, it just came down to a sprint, so it was easy and then today I wasn’t sure how it would pan out but I said I was going to go for the stage victory and it all came together. I went before the Tumble – I came through the break and went straight through – and paced it all the way up to the top, so I was delighted with the win.
“And to win the overall is just amazing - I won the Junior Tour of Ireland last year and won it this year as the first rider to win it twice, so now I’ve won the Junior Tour of Wales as well.”
The other competition decided this weekend was the National Junior Road Race Series where Matthew Gibson overhauled James Shaw who had led from the first round. Gibson spoke to British Cycling afterwards and said: “I’m quite surprised actually. I knew I was second overall, I knew James was leading and I knew he wasn’t going so well this week, so I knew that I had a chance of winning it, but I wasn’t quite sure whether I could do it or not.
“You’ve got all the stages and the overall which all add to the points, so I think there were a few stages that helped. So far I’ve had quite a good year and hopefully, if I’m selected, the Junior Worlds at the end of the year.”
Gabriel Cullaigh (RST Racing Team) won the penultimate stage of the NFTO Junior Tour of Wales at Penpergwm, just outside Avergavenny, as Eddie Dunbar (Sensa Munster) retained the overall lead.
Part of an earlier break of four riders which was caught on the run-in, Cullaigh broke away again inside the closing two kilometres to take the win by four seconds from Fraser Martin (Spokes Racing Team).
Dunbar finished with the main field to keep the leader’s yellow jersey going into the final day with an advantage of 3-04 over Alexander Brabrooke (Velocity WD-40)
The Penpergwm course is a fast one with almost half of the distance run on the dual carriageway of the A40 – in sharp contrast to the picturesque lanes of the return leg – and certainly one for the sprinters.
It’s not that it is impossible to get clear – it’s just very hard to stay away. Thomas Craig (Great Britain MTB Development Team) tried his luck with Dunbar’s Sensa Munster team-mate Steven Shanahan, but they didn’t get far with Manxman Matt Bostock (BH Solidor Isle of Man 3lc.tv), Joe Holt (Wales), Stuart Balfour (Spokes Racing Team) leading the charge to bring them back
Holt had taken the first sprint of the day, ahead of Bostock’s team-mate – and recently-crowned Junior National Road Race champion - Tristan Robbins with Matt Gibson ( Velocity WD-40) third and then Green Jersey holder Leon Mazzone, another team-mate of Bostock, fourth.
The second sprint went to Ben Chapman (Central Region) from James Shaw (HARIBO Beacon), Bostock and Cullaigh who had broken clear from the bunch and pulled out a minute’s lead.
As the race entered the closing stages and the gap started to come down, Bostock and Shaw tried to drop their fellow escapees, but as the peloton finally bore down on them, all but Cullaigh accepted their fate.
The Huddersfield rider was having none of it and attacked again and was joined by Martin. The two worked well together and rebuilt a sizeable lead before, with 1,500 metre to go, Cullaigh broke for home on his own, finishing three seconds ahead of the Scot.
Behind them, Lewis Stevens (Eastern Region) slipped off the front of the bunch and had a 12-second advantage as he crossed the line to take third place, 23 seconds adrift of Cullaigh. Alex Touche (CWM) also gave the bunch the slip to take fourth, four seconds behind Stevens, with Holt winning the gallop for fifth.
The two points Holt picked up on the line, added to his win in the opening sprint, put him in the lead in the Green Jersey competition, five points clear of Mazzone with Gibson a further five points back.
Cullaigh spoke to British Cycling after the race and admitted: “I was disappointed this morning as my saddle slipped with three to go. I was feeling strong so knew I had the legs for stage four.
“After the first points sprint I was ready to get myself in to a break and eventually me, James Shaw, Ben Chapman and Matt Bostock got away. I knew we would still need to work hard all stage as James and Ben were both in the top ten. On the last lap the bunch got the gap down to within 100 metre, the other three sat up, but I didn't want to give in so I attacked and pulled out a little gap which I held for a few kilometres. Fraser Martin came across to me and he was dead strong, so we committed and gave all we could. I attacked him with one and a half kilometres to go and held him off all the way to the finish. Really happy to win the stage after giving it all I possibly could.”
Despite Cullaigh’s solo win, this was another bunch finish for all the major contenders, so things stayed largely unchanged in the General Classification. Dunbar will be a marked man in tomorrow’s final stage, so a solo win is less likely, but in reality all he needs to do is finish within sight of his major rivals to turn his eader’s jersey into the winner’s jersey.
Spoiling the party for the sprinters, Oliver Maxwell (Catford CC) attacked from the pack with just over three of the ten 1.75-mile laps to go and stayed away to win the stage three of the NFTO Junior Tour of Wales.
Maxwell was 15 seconds clear at the line as, with no significant changes to the overall situation, Eddie Dunbar (Sensa Munster) retained the leader’s yellow jersey with an advantage of 3-04 over Alexander Braybrook (Velocity WD40) going into Sunday afternoon’s fourth stage.
The morning stage was the first of two designed to allow the sprinters to shine, although the purpose-built course around the contours of Bryn Bach Park also requires some climbing ability.
The climbs themselves are short but sharp, but the fact that riders complete ten laps off the circuit makes for a lung-busting 45 minutes or so and even by the first ascent of the first, and biggest, climb a number of riders had been blown out of the back.
Four riders tried to get away – the winners of stages one and two, Matt Gibson (Velocity WD-40) and overall leader Dunbar, Gabriel Cullaigh (RST Racing Team) and Stuart Balfour (Speg-Project 51) - but they weren’t away for long and the bunch was back together by halfway before then splitting in two.
The decisive move came with just over three laps to go when Maxwell, inspired by Chris Lawless’s solo win 12 months ago, went off the front on his own and stayed away for the second solo stage win of the race.
British Cycling asked Oliver Maxwell for his feelings on his stage win as he recovered from his solo effort. “It was alright! I noticed last year when Lawless won that you can stay away – he attacked with about two laps to go, so I thought ‘It’s safer than the sprint, so I’ll take a chance’ and went with about three laps to go. The first lap I was like ‘My legs ain’t there’ but it came on the next lap and it felt good. I just kept on riding and I felt great and now on to today’s second stage – and hopefully it’ll be the same again.”
Dunbar kept the jersey safe in the middle of the bunch as a fast-charging Gibson, lying third overall, just failed to catch Mark McGuire (Great Britain MTB Development Team), who took the bunch sprint with Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team) fourth and Joe Holt (Wales) fifth.
Holt had also won the two intermediate sprints, moving him into second place in the Green Jersey competition tied on points with overnight leader Leon Mazzone (BH Solidor Isle of Man 3lc.tv) who was second to Holt in the first two sprints.
Team Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar took a clear lead into the second day of the NFTO Junior Tour of Wales after riding away from the rest of the field on the mountain-top finish to the second stage.
Dunbar opened up a gap of almost two and three-quarter minutes over his nearest rival to wrest the yellow jersey from Matthew Gibson (Velocity WD40), who had been a comfortable winner of the stage one time trial.
Stage two saw the riders roll out of the HQ town of Brynmawr towards Brecon. Between Llangynidyr – where, an hour and a half later, they would head up towards the finish – and Talybont on Usk, the first of the Tour’s sprints was contested with Benjamin Manfield-Yorke (Wolverhampton Wheelers) taking charge of the green jersey on the road and Matthew Bostock (BH Solidor Isle of Man 3lc.tv) in second place, yellow jersey-wearer Matt Gibson (Velocity WD-40) third and King of the Mountains leader Gabriel Cullaigh (RST Racing Team) fourth.
Karl Baillie (HARIBO Beacon) then went on the attack, quickly pulling out a 30 second lead, with first Joe Wiltshire (Wales) and Fraser Martin (Spokes RT) and then Elliot Reynolds (Halesowen A&CC), Alexander Braybrooke (Velocity WD-40) and Leon Mazzone (BH Solidor Isle of Man 3lc.tv) in pursuit and eventually joining up with him at the head of the race.
More joined the group as the first mountains prize approached at Brecon, shortly after the feed zone, and it was Wiltshire who took maximum points on the climb ahead of Martin.
Mazzone was at the head of affairs at the second sprint at Talgarth with Baillie second over the line, before the lead group fractured with Dunbar, Mazzone and Braybrooke setting off alone and pulling out a three and a half minute gap by the base of Llangynidyr mountain, where Dunbar made his winning move.
Riding most of the mountain alone, Dunbar pulled out an impressive 2-43 lead over Braybrooke by the finish with Mazzone finishing a further 1-10 back in third place was enough to give him a two-point lead in the green jersey competition over Manfield-Yorke and Dunbar. Ben Chapman (Central) picked up enough points earlier in the day to keep one ahead of Dunbar in the King of the Mountains competition with Braybrooke a further point back.
Overall, Dunbar’s solo victory put him 3-04 ahead of Braybrook, a situation that is unlikely to change on Sunday with the next two stages set up for bunch sprint finishes, but which could easily be turned on its head on the brutal stage five on Monday.
Of the contenders for the overall Junior Series title, Braybrooke is best-placed, 1-17 ahead of Gibson, who is third overall. Series leader James Shaw (HARIBO Beacon) is currently 16th but only a minute and a half behind Gibson.
Gibson took a comfortable 25-second lead out of the opening time trial on The Tumble, clocking 11-52 under overcast skies and barely double-digit temperatures at the top of the climb.
NFTO’s Stephen Williams took second place in 12-17, just two second ahead of Tristan Robbins (BH-Solidaor WAM).
The King of the Mountains competition, for the final climb up The Tumble, was headed by Gabriel Cullaigh (RST) ahead of Chapman.
1 Eddie Dunbar (Sensa Munster) 6:43:37
2 Alexander Braybrooke (Velocity WD-40) at 4:51
3 Matthew Gibson (Velocity WD-40) at 5:42
4 Ben Chapman (Central Region) at 5:50
5 Dan Gardner (Speg - Project 51) at 6:52
6 Dylan O'Brien (Sensa Munster) at 7:07
7 Alex Dalton (Squadra RT) at 7:21
8 Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team) at 7:23
9 Thomas Baylis (HARIBO Beacon CT) at 7:26
10 James Shaw (HARIBO Beacon CT) at 7:34
King of the Mountains overall:
1 Ben Chapman (Central Region) 15
2 Eddie Dunbar (Sensa Munster) 13
3 Dan Gardner (Speg - Project 51) 8
4 Stephen Williams (Wales) 8
5 Joseph Wiltshire (Wales) 7
6 Gabriel Cullaigh (RST Racing Team) 6
Points Competition overall:
1 Joe Holt (Wales) 22
2 Leon Mazzone (BHI) 15
3 Matthew Gibson (Velocity WD-40) 10
4 Oliver Maxwell (Catford CC) 9
5 Gabriel Cullaigh (RST RT) 8
6 Scott Auld (PH MAS) 8
1 Sensa Munster 20:30:15
2 HARIBO Beacon Cycling Team at 4:32
3 Velocity WD-40 at 5:06
4 BH Solidor Isle of Man 3lc.tv at 6:35
5 Wales at 7:35
6 Great Britain MTB Development Team at 8:33
Stage 5 result:
1 Eddie Dunbar (Sensa Munster) 2:16:47
2 Stephen Williams (Wsles) at 0:41
3 Dan Gardner (Speg-Project 51) at 1:06
4 Ben Chapman (Central Region) at 1:26
5 Alex Dalton (Squadra RT)
6 Matthew Gibson (Velocity WD-40)
7 Sean Noon (ERC) all same time
8 Dylan O’Brien (Sensa Munster) at 1:29
9 James Shaw (HARIBO Beacon CT) at 1:45
10 Alexander Braybrooke (Velocity WD-40) at 1:47
Stage 4 result:
1 Gabriel Cullaigh (RST) 1:33:39
2 Fraser Martin (SPO) at 3 sec
3 Lewis Stevens (EST) at 23 sec
4 Alexandre Touche (CWM) at 27 sec
5 Joe Holt (WAL) at 35 sec
6 Matthew Gibson (VWD)
7 Oliver Maxwell (CAT )
8 Jack Escritt (VWD)
9 Robert Hogg (TSW)
10 Stephen Shanahan (SEN) all same time
Stage 3 Result:
1 Oliver Maxwell (CAT) 43-39
2 Mark McGuire (GBR) at 15 sec
3 Matthew Gibson (VWD)
4 Nathan Draper (RST)
5 Joe Holt (WAL)
6 Jack Escritt (VWD)
7 Scott Auld (PHM)
8 Stuart Balfour (SPO)
9 Eddie Dunbar (SEN)
10 Matthew Bostock (BHI) all same time
Stage 2 Result:
1 Eddie Dunbar (SEN) 1-56-19
2 Alexander Braybrooke (VWD) at 2-43
3 Leon Mazzone (BHI) at 3-53
4 Ben Chapman (CEN) at 4-16
5 Joe Evans (HAR) at 4-33
6 Dylan O'Brien (SEN) at 4-57
7 Tristan Robbins (BHI) at 4-57
8 Nathan Draper (RST)
9 Matthew Gibson (VWD)
10 Thomas Baylis (HAR) all same time
Stage 1 result:
1 Matthew Gibson (Velocity WD-40) 11-52
2 Stephen Williams (NFTO) 12-17
3 Tristan Robbins (BH Solidor WAM) 12-19
4 Thomas Baylis (HARIBO Beacon) 12-21
5 Eddie Dunbar (Sensa Munster) 12-23
6 Gabriel Cullaigh (RST Racing Team) 12-29