Adam Blythe took victory in the Ipswich Coastal Grand Prix on Sunday - the final round of the British Cycling Elite Men’s Road Series. But it was Team Raleigh’s Yanto Barker who did enough to be crowned champion.
Coming into this, the ninth event of the series, there were only two possible overall winners, Yanto Barker and Marcin Bialoblocki. Despite only winning one round of the series, Barker’s consistency saw him earn the points needed to seal his title.
It was a well-worked win for Blythe, coming from a bunch sprint finish led out by his NFTO team-mates.
In the formative stages of the 200km race held in Ipswich, riders put in a flurry of attacks hoping to get away from the peloton early but nothing stuck and every attempt was soon reeled back in.
But as the race progressed, Lawrence Carpenter of Catford CC, Alex Peters of Madison Genesis and Jon Mould of NFTO Pro Racing carved out a gap of 1.20.
They were soon joined by Adam Blythe and Nathan Edmondson of Velosure – Node4 Racing and the gap was pulled out to 2.30.
After working well together, Blythe suddenly sat up and dropped back, leaving the other four riders to power away into the distance.
The leaders covered the first 90km in two hours and by the midway point of the race had opened up a 3.23 gap back to the peloton.
Making a break from the peloton, Rob Moore of Pedal Heaven, Lloyd Chapman of Richardsons-Trek and Will Bjergfelt of Metaltek worked together to try and close down the gap to the leaders and they were effective, narrowing it down to 2.15.
The main bunch were now five minutes back but soon started to pick up the pace, with Rapha Condor JLT driving the peloton towards the leaders and chasers.
Different teams took turns at the front until the gap to the leaders had been slashed to just 50 seconds. Carpenter, exhausted, dropped from the lead group and was swallowed up in the bunch. Edmondson soon suffered the same fate, leaving just Peters and Mould out front but with a quickly shrinking lead, down to just 12 seconds as the end of the race approached.
The next attack at the front came from Rob Partridge, the Velosure – Node4 man bridging over and then immediately making his move.
But soon after Partridge made the attack, the bunch caught the leaders, setting up a bunch sprint finish. NFTO timed their plan just right, leading Adam Blythe out to take the win.
Just behind Blythe in the sprint, Rapha Condor JLT’s Chris Opie came second and Pedal Heaven's Alex Paton finished third.
Speaking after the race, Yanto Barker said: "The team did such an awesome job today. When a group of riders went up the road, we weren't overly concerned that we weren't represented because we had a plan and we stuck to it.
“With about 60k to go, the boys started riding and I said look, if you want to start riding then we're going to have to go hard to get something out of this.
“Rapha were of the same view of us and we pretty much put all our resources into the chase. It was really good to be able to catch them because they were going so fast.
“We felt in control but never safe, when you're doing 55kph it’s never safe and there are a lot of corners coming into town.
“Wilks (Ian Wilkinson) went the wrong side of the barriers with 400m to go and if that had been me, that could have been the whole series screwed so you never know.
“I’m really happy with the series win, it didn't happen by accident, it's being a lot of hard work and it’s been very carefully calculated and planned.”
Adam Blythe added: "I went across to the break but it felt a bit stupid being in there so I sat up and went back to the bunch.
“When we chased down the break and realised it was going to come down to a sprint, the whole team got dialled in, everyone did the perfect job in getting me to the line.
“They all knew what they had to do and they all did it. In the last 10k I always like to keep the team together in a line and they did it perfectly.
“After winning in London it's good to keep the winning streak going, we'll see what happens in the Tour of Britain now."
1 Adam Blythe (NFTO Pro Cycling)
2 Chris Opie (Rapha Condor JLT)
3 Alex Paton (Pedal Heaven Colbornes)
British Cycling Elite Road Series (Final overall):
1 Yanto Barker (Team Raleigh)