After a four month hiatus, the Under-23 Men’s National Road Series returned at the August bank holiday weekend with the Stars of the South West road race. Ed Morgan (Wales Racing Academy) surged to his first National B road race win, just two months after breaking his collarbone.
Bathed in sunshine, a strong field containing some of the top domestic espoirs took to the start for eight laps of a rolling circuit by Somerton, Somerset. Winner of Round 1, Samuel Clark (trainSharp Development Team), was looking to defend his series lead, along with some his closest challengers in the standings, including Farley Barber (Spirit BSS), George Wood (Cycling Sheffield), and Morgan.
With Toby Barnes, Josh Whitehead and Jim Brown racing in Holland for their WiV SunGod team at the Ronde Van de Achterhoek, the race was an open affair. Cycling Sheffield, Spirit BSS, and Trainsharp all had strength in numbers, but it was Wales Racing Academy who took the initiative.
Eventually, three riders managed to carve out some daylight between themselves and the peloton. William Tidball (Team Inspired), Daniel Barnes (Spectra Wiggle), and Morgan worked together for several laps, but their advantage was never over a minute. Behind, efforts from Joe Wilson (Dolan-Ellesse), Taylor Hill (Cycling Sheffield), and Tom Portsmouth (Mini Discar) helped bring the trio back.
With three laps to go, Jacques Coates (PB Performance) went on the offensive, followed by Morgan. The pair worked well, pulling out a lead of nearly two minutes. A lap later and their lead had been halved, with the bunch splintering into several groups over the aptly named Snap Hill.
As the peloton regrouped, however, the impetus went out of the chase and by the bell, the two out front had two and a half minutes to spare. It was clear that Coates and Morgan would be fighting it out for the win. Morgan struck out first on the climb, catching Coates unawares as he took a drink. The cunning move got Morgan the gap, but as he pulled away it was clear the Welshman was not just the smartest, but also the strongest on the day.
At the line, Coates was nearly out of sight, and Morgan was able to enjoy a stylish victory. Coates rolled in for a respectable second place, whilst Portsmouth outsprinted Samuel Beckett (Wales Racing Academy) for third place, having ridden together on the last lap. Tom Williams (Nopinz Motip) took the reduced bunch sprint for fifth.
Morgan’s first National B win came just a couple of months after breaking his collarbone in June to make it a very sweet comeback.
His win also moves him into the series lead, 15 points ahead of Clark, and 16 in front of Cycling Sheffield’s Wood.
The fin; Britial round of the series is the Central Under-23 Classic Road Race and takes place on 25 September.