Mark Donovan produced a stunning solo attack to ride to Stage 3 victory at the Sleepwell Hotels Isle of Man Junior Tour, and with it took the overall race win.
The British Cycling Junior Road Series race concluded on Sunday with the 97km race route having to be reduced to 58.2km after high winds threatened the riding of the race at all.
After a neutralised lap the race jury decided to reduce the number of laps from ten to six, though, and the shortened race produced some inevitably explosive action.
Scenic roads, attacking racing
The final stage included the spectacular climb along Marine Drive for the first time in the history of the Isle of Man Junior Tour.
The exposed road cut into a cliff edge overlooking the Island’s capital and made for a true test of climbing and descending skills.
A shortened race always encourages riders to attack early, and Donovan didn’t need a second invitation.
The first time up the hill to Marine Drive the Zappi Racing Team rider went clear with Harry Yates of Hargroves/Ridley/Montezuma’s.
Behind them, the peloton split in two and the breakaway duo were soon caught by the first group of chasers.
However, undaunted, Donovan attacked again on the same climb on lap three, and this time stayed clear.
Overnight race leader Tom Pidcock, of PH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield ERT, began the day ten places and 15s ahead of Donovan, but had no answer when he attacked.
He drove the chasing pack, but with Donovan’s lead holding steady at around the 20s mark, he could not drag the field any closer.
Donovan gets a partner
While Pidcock tired himself on the front of the peloton, Backstedt/Hotchillee’s Daniel Coombe bridged the gap between the pack and Donovan with a solo attack – catching the leader on the penultimate lap.
The duo worked together to get a lead of 40s at the bell, but Donovan attacked again on Marine Drive, dropping Coombe to solo to the line and finish eight seconds ahead of his breakaway buddy.
VC Londres’ Jacob Vaughan led the field home in a bunch sprint, 18s down on the winner, and with Pidcock still in the pack the gap was enough to give Donovan the win.
Coombe took third place overall, with Donovan clinching the points jersey and Backstedt/Hotchillee the team prize.
Pidcock caught off guard
“I knew I would have to go for a long one to get anywhere near the top on GC,” said Donovan after the race.
“Because I knew Tom [Pidcock] would be really strong. I just caught them off guard, and managed to stay away.”