Reece Wood (Velocity GlobalBike) took a fine win at Kennoway earlier today in the Spokes Cycles Kingdom Junior Classic, round five of the British Cycling Junior Road Race series.
First year Wood, riding for Velocity Globalbike, took the victory from Max Spedding (VCUK PH-MAS) and HMT Academy's Alex Braybrook in a three-rider sprint after a gruelling three hours on the tough Kennoway circuit which took in the climbs of Cadgers and Porters Brae. It is his best result yet in a National road race.
As soon as the race rolled away up Bonnybank and away from Kennoway at the end of the neutralised section, five riders took an early chance to stretch their legs.
Glasgow's Andy Brown, whose chances of a result were scuppered later in the race with a puncture, Karl Baillie (HMT Academy), Alex Foster (Border City), Owen Dudley (Manx Viking) and Ben Forsyth (Spokes RT) got a small gap on the peloton but by the time the race had settled, the bunch pegged a small gap to the break.
VCUK PH-MAS team mates Ralf Hodgson and Max Spedding, along with Grant Martin (Spokes RT), had joined the break as the race progressed through Balmalcolm and Kettlebridge.
As they took the turn to the start of the first time up Cadgers, the group were some 20 seconds away with Baillie taking the prime at the top of the climb from Martin, Dudley and Spedding. Already, small groups were off the back of the main bunch.
As the race rolled through the undulations of the Fife circuit, the race split into three main groups. A lead break of seven were some 46 seconds to the good on a chase group of eight comprising Corley Cycles' Robert Hogg who had the series lead in sight, Braybrooke Joe Fry (RST) and eventual winner Wood.
The chase in turn had over ninety seconds to the main field. As the race entered the final lap, the main bunch became active and began to eat into the chase group's time. Braybrooke went away off the front and looked as though he would stay the distance until Hodgson jumped and caught the lone leader.
But the climb up Cadgers was too much for the VCUK rider and Braybrooke put the power down and continued alone, now some 33 seconds off the front.
A finishing loop on the last lap was to be the sting in the tail as a long climb split the race up. Braybrooke was still dominant on the front but was joined by Spedding and Wood who, by his own admission, was cramping pretty badly at the top of the climb.
But the three worked well and got a 22 second gap on the remainder of the field. With two kilometres to go, the three started to play cat and mouse with each other but with the chasers closing the gap, the three had to make a move and were together with 500 metres to go.
But it was Wood had the speed in his legs to carry him up the incline for a worthy win from Spedding and Braybrooke.
“Coming into the final lap I just thought I’d go for it, jumped across the gap in the cross winds and felt really good,” said Reece Wood after the race.
“Going up the last climb I started to cramp up but managed to ride through it and still felt good, I knew then I could get a good result.
The three of us worked together as a unit, but when we hit the three kilometres to go there was a bit of cat and mouse between us. No-one wanted to make the first move, but I think it was me who made the first move and then it was hell for leather.
“Coming into the finish straight we still had a gap but the bunch was catching us, I thought we would get caught so I knew we just had to stop playing around and just go for the line.
“I never thought myself a climber and every race I’ve done recently that has hills I’ve not done very well but after today I think I can climb, today has given me a lot of confidence. You realise if I’m hurting so is everyone else.”
1. Reece Wood (Velocity GlobalBike) 2:55.08
2. Max Spedding (VCUK PH Mas Junior CT) at 2sec
3. Alexander Braybrooke (HMT Academy with JLT Condor) at 5sec
4. Jack Escritt (HMT Academy with JLT Condor) at 18sec
5. Robert Hogg (Corley Cycles-Drops RT) at 23sec
6. Elliot Redfern (Giant CC-Halo) at 24sec
7. Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team) at 1-06
8. Joey Walker (RST Racing Team) at 1-33
9. Matthew Bostock (Manx Viking Wh) at 1-34
10. Harrison Jones (Pedal Heaven RT) at same time.