Dream becomes reality for Haines in British Cycling Junior Men's Road Series

Dream becomes reality for Haines in British Cycling Junior Men's Road Series

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Alex Haines rode to a dream overall victory in the Junior Tour of the Mendips while Ben Barlow sprinted to victory in the third and final stage of the British Cycling Junior Men's Road Series.

Dylan Hughes (Spokes Racing Team) had a slender advantage after the opening two stages and was eight seconds ahead of Leicestershire Road Club rider Haines in third place going into the final 80km road stage.

However, it was Haines who made the winning move to form part of a chasing group that joined the three leaders and reached the final climb with a slender advantage.

The breakaway looked as though it was about to be swallowed by the chasing bunch with their gap falling from over two minutes to 17 seconds into the final stages.

However, as the bunch expected the catch the gap pulled back out and Haines took advantage taking second on the stage and overall victory while breakaway companion Barlow (Spokes Racing) took victory.

The overall victory was a dream come true for first year junior Haines who was taking part in his first road stage race.

Sweet dreams for Haines

“I went to bed last night just dreaming of winning but thinking realistically that it wasn’t too much of an option,” he said.

“I had a go today and got quite lucky but had the legs to make use of the luck.

“It’s probably my first stage race at junior level and I woke up this morning with heavy legs but I managed to shake them off and do a good result today.

“The gap came down to 17 seconds with quite a while to go and I thought that was it and I was going to come in for just another result.

“Luckily they sat up and it went out to 30 seconds so I just dug in and manager to hang on. I hope this is going to continue to be a breakthrough year as under-16 I didn’t really get many results on the road.

“So I’m really happy to get some results already as a junior. It’s really tough going up hills like we did today is brutal but to be doing alright makes it a lot more enjoyable.”

Barlow makes most of early opportunity

With a gruelling race ahead and after a tough opening day, the bunch was somewhat subdued over the opening stages as they twisted through the Mendips lanes.

The first meaningful attack went on the first ascent of Burrington Combe after 19km by Ash Coning (N-Fuse Identity Racing), going clear on the bottom section and hanging onto a slender advantage over the top to clinch the opening King of the Mountains prize.

Ben Barlow won the third stage

After the rapid ascent Barlow, Ryan Watkins (Team Wales) and Thomas Bostock (Equiom IOM Junior Cycling Team) took their opportunity to attack and quickly grew out a substantial advantage.

They were chased by an initial group of three which then swelled to eight riders on the rolling roads.

After 35km of racing the three leaders had an advantage of 40 seconds over the closing chasers and two minutes on the bunch.

Peloton shrinks as race takes shape

By the second King of the Mountains Climb Rhodyate Hill at 52km the chasers caught the break at the bottom of the steep climb to leave a leading group of 12 riders.

George Mills-Keeling (Pro Vision Race Team) led the newly-formed breakaway over the top of the climb and was joined by Tom Couzens (Zappi Racing), Barlow, Haines, Watkins, Bostock, George Bazley (Bristol Road Club) and Morgan Curle (Giany Cycling Club- Halo Films) while three of the breakaway fell away.

With many of the overall classification favourites in the bunch behind the peloton was whittled down to 40 riders on the climb and the chase after the breakaway was on.

With 10km remaining their gap had shrunk from over two minutes to around 17 seconds while Curle crashed out of the breakaway.

However, with the breakaway in their sights the bunch stopped chasing and it was breakaway who contested the finish after racing hard up the finishing climb.

Barlow pleased to win hard race

“It was a hard race as I attacked over the top of the first climb and just kept going,” said stage winner Barlow.

“We were caught by a group and we worked well together and kept it going until the end. It’s the first year doing this race and I was told the second King of the Mountains climb was steep but I didn’t realise it was that steep.

“I was in two minds the whole stage as we had Dylon (Hughes) leading overall but he only had two seconds so I thought do I stop this break and play all my cards for him or do I try and do it for myself.

“So, I kept it going and ended up doing the selfish move and just won the sprint. It was a relatively calm final as the group were getting closer so it was hard but steady and no attacking until the sprint.”

Results

Stage Results

General Classification

Gallery

British Cycling Junior Road Race Series 2018. Rnd 2. Tour Of The Mendips. Day 1