John Archibald rode to a sterling tenth place as Mark Cavendish and Alice Towers took individual honours at the British Road Race Championships in Castle Douglas.
A Sunday in Hell often synonymous with the famous one-day Paris-Roubaix race. However, the conditions that Castle Douglas provided the peloton could make this year’s British Road Race Champs challenge for that moniker.
Torrential rain and 40mph winds that were forecast, came as predicted on Sunday morning. The women’s race had plenty of Scottish interest with the riders from Alba Development RT being amongst that contingent.
The early racing was very nervous, with a crash after 7km which held up local rider Rebecca Saunderson (Studio Velo), who after a lengthy chase was able to get back into the main peloton.
A 60km solo attack from Christina Wiejak of Saint Piran turned the race into a race of attrition until the final few laps.
After a group of 15 riders escaped off the front of the peloton, including Kate Richardson (Alba RT) which caused the race to split apart. Le Col-Wahoo managed it perfectly as Alice Towers made the move off the front of that group, and would not be seen again.
Sammie Stuart (CAMS-Basso) set out in pursuit of Towers but would fail to make contact with the young Le Col rider. A good move from four riders: Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma), Elynor Backstedt (Trek-Segafredo), Pfeffier Georgi (Team DSM) was marked by Lizzie Holden (Le Col-Wahoo).
The four bridged to Stuart and fought it out for the minor medals, as Towers rode to a magnificent solo victory, with defending champion Georgi pipping Henderson to silver.
In the main peloton, there was a sprint for seventh, with Beth Harley-Jepson (Jadan Vive-le-Velo) finishing top Scot in 12th position. Kate Richardson (Alba RT) was in 13th, with Beth Morrow (CAMS-Basso) and Anna Shackley (SD Worx) in 17th and 23rd, respectively.
The afternoon’s men’s race was raced in the slightly drier but just as gusty conditions.
Scotland’s John Archibald was in the key move, after bridging across to the early break, which was surprisingly launched by Mark Cavendish (Quick Step).
The lead group swelled as various riders bridged across, until a group of 22 eventually formed at the front of the race, as the conditions improved.
One of those who missed the move was Mark Stewart (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) who looked very strong and was one of the few in the main bunch that tried to pull the break back, but it was to no avail as the massive break were able to hold off the bunch, especially given the array of teams represented.
After some attacking saw the break whittled down to a group of 12, the final 30km saw the elastic finally snap with two groups of six forming, with Mark Cavendish and Ben Turner (INEOS-Grenadiers) leading the front group, while Archibald found himself in the second group.
The final lap saw frantic racing and the fatigue of the riders was showing. Friday’s winner Matthew Bostock (Wiv-SunGod) came down after a touch of wheels which ruled him out of contention.
Turner’s relentless attacking caught up with him in the final km, making it a three-up sprint between Cavendish, Richardson and Samuel Watson (Groupama-FDJ).
The Manx missile lived up to his moniker in the final few hundred metres as he was crowned British Champion on King Street, much to the delight of the crowd.
After the race, Cavendish told Scottish Cycling:
“It was a hard day today you know, a lot of guys wanted to win today, but I’m really happy to win.”
A massive thank you to all the volunteers and marshals who were manning posts in the brutal conditions, as well as Alba Development Road Team for providing Scottish Cycling with Team Car access and to Studio Velo in Castle Douglas for use of their shop on Saturday.