One Pro Cycling’s New Zealand rider Dion Smith stormed to a solo victory in Beaumont Trophy in Northumberland.
The 23-year-old from Auckland broke clear from a small elite group that had formed on the last short lap following four climbs of the event’s signature climb ‘The Ryals.’
Running since 1952, the Beaumont Trophy race held in Stamfordham is now an established UCI 1:2 event on the UK calendar, this year’s event attracting a stellar field of 150 riders and featuring many of the UKs highest ranking teams as well as many continental based squads.
After barely 15 minutes of racing a break established a gap of 40 seconds on an opening short lap that didn’t include the big climb. The peloton, mindful no doubt of the volume and intensity of racing to come, seemed content to let them have their moment, chatting amicably as they picked their way through the verdant Northumbrian lanes.
Entering the first of the four longer laps, the gap had edged out to 3:14 before the peloton showed any intent, a group of five represented by Madison Genesis, Zappis, One Pro Cycling, Wheelbase and Catford CC riding off the front of the main group and leading the chase up the Ryals. Over the top of the climb the five were 2:46 down on the leaders, with the peloton a further 1:20 behind.
It took over an hour of racing and completion of the second of the four climbs before the peloton deemed the situation significantly threatening that they needed to react, and a hard lap driven by NFTO massing at the front - with a little help from Pedal Heaven - quickly halved the gap to both groups ahead on the road, suggesting the peloton was in control of the situation. Shortly after the riders crossed the line marking half distance the race was back together.
Strengthening winds and light rain now started to make life uncomfortable on the exposed open moorland over the top of the climb and an attempt by 12 riders to form a breakaway on the penultimate long lap was quickly absorbed back into the main bunch.
A crash on the back of the circuit resulted in a few splinters in the peloton and when Irish National Road Race Champion Damien Shaw attacked near the top of the third climb for the KOM points, opening a small gap, the following group was reduced to some 18 riders with the remainder of the peloton struggling up the climb in unstructured chase groups, some towards the rear noticeably nursing injuries.
As the weather continued to worsen, deeply unpleasant conditions greeted the remaining riders on their fourth and final gruelling ascent. With only a short lap remaining this was the point where being in contention over the top was vital for anyone with intentions of contesting the race victory, and all the major teams had riders in close proximity as the leaders crested the summit, resulting in a small select group forming from the pockets of riders coming together on the descent rather than any concentrated effort to force a break.
Going into the final short lap Planet X rider Daniel Bigham and Madison Genesis’ Matt Holmes were the first to show their hands, gapping the remaining peloton by a significant margin as the race headed out for a final 20 minutes in the gathering drizzle.
The move stuck for an impressive percentage of the final lap before first Liam Holohan (Team Wiggins) then One Pro Cycling’s Smith went across the gap. The resulting four riders’ lead always looked to be significant and a four-up sprint was seemingly on the cards until they started attacking each other repeatedly on the run in, each looking for the win. Smith’s was the attack that stuck, the Kiwi crossing the line alone with a comfortable margin while the others sprinted out the medal positions ahead of a fast finishing peloton.
Former Hincapie Racing rider, Smith is amassing some impressive results this season including fifth overall in the tough Four Days of Dunkirk race and 10th Overall at the Tour de Yorkshire, and despite a tough race, he sees the Beaumont win as his best result.
“It was hard, the roads around here are so dead, made of hard-chip,” he explained, referring to the coarse surface that characterised the roads in the area. “It’s tiring all day, even sitting in the pack. Obviously it’s important being a British team riding UCI to come back and get the win.
“We [One Pro] were strong today, we had four guys in that finishing group, we could see that pair going off in front and never let them get too far.”
Smith joins an illustrious list of previous winners that now sees his name next to Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Newton, Russell and Dean Downing and Malcolm Elliott to name just a few adorning the Beaumont Trophy.