Amelia Sharpe (Liv-Halo) won the second stage of the Screentek International North West Youth and Junior Tour, the fourth and final round of the inaugural 2018 British Cycling Junior Women’s Road Series.
It was a case of history repeating for Sharpe, who won the Youth A race on the same hilltop last season, repeating the feat in her recently acquired national championship jersey as a first year junior - highlighting the fact that she is one of the UK’s brightest, emerging young talents on the road.
Conditions for day two were anything but bright as a cloying drizzle and temperatures more akin to a winter race, replaced the sunshine of day one.
That soaked everyone to the skin in the opening laps and rendering the infamous, fast, downhill bends of the popular 3.3km closed road circuit even more demanding.
As early as lap two, the parcours’ signature, long, uphill drag had ripped the field to pieces with several riders distanced from a fast-moving elite group that paid little respect to the weather.
They were flying around the circuit in a high-speed attritional onslaught that by mid-race had seen half the field dropped.
A lead group of around 25 riders containing all the general classification and series contenders opened up a gap on two main chase groups, one and two minutes behind respectively, and it was case of who could hang on as each time up the climb, riders took it in turns to drive the pace.
New Zealand’s Niamh Fisher-Black (Mike Greer Homes WT), already selected for her home country junior world championship squad, illuminated the race with a series of attacks that saw her take three out of four wins in Queen of the Mountain competition and an impressive third place in the race overall.
With a rider or two dropping off the front group with each passing climb, the bunch reduced to around 15 riders with four laps to go when Sharpe and stage one winner Elynor Backstedt (Backstedt/HotChilee) managed to put some daylight between themselves and the main bunch.
But with so many GC and series contenders on hand they were brought back well before the concluding lap.
Sharpe finished first in the ensuing sprint, crossing the line with her trademark single-handed salute narrowly ahead of Backstedt and Fisher-Black with Katie Scott (Jadan Weldite) an impressive fourth.
A canny ride by series leader April Tacey (Team 22) saw her finish on the same time as the leading riders but gain a few seconds on GC on her main series rivals.
“That was a hard race in tough conditions” admitted Sharpe after the race.
“Me and Elynor got a small gap for about a lap and a half but it was really windy up on the top, so while you could get away on the hill, it was easy to chase back on the downhill so it didn’t stick.”