Nearby Heathrow airport is there partly because of the strength on consistency of the prevailing wind and it was a factor on Saturday as the British Cycling National Youth Circuit Series arrived at Hillingdon.
The circuit was bathed in sunshine for most of the day – interrupted on occasion by the odd cloud – but it was never warm and the head wind on the back of the straight and tailwind on the long home straight meant that it was almost impossible to stay away – with all but one of the races ending in a bunch sprint.
The first race of the day saw a home win with Madison Emment of Hillingdon Slipstreamers leading home Tulsi Bakrania of Team Darenth on the Under 8 Girls race. Leading girl in the Series Anna Lloyd of Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club took fourth, behind series sixth-placed rider Megan Lloyd of Harry Middleton Cycling Club with Elise Hawkins of Palmer Park Velo – who sat third overall at the start of the day – in fifth.
The Boys race also saw most of the points going to riders outside the leading group in the Series with Henry Hobbs of Barking and Dagenham CC taking the win ahead of Matthew White of Stockton Wheelers – 18th in the series – and fifth placed Ryan Oldfield. Fourth went to first-timer Maxwell Robinson of Thanet RC with seventh placed Finn O’Brien of Hillingdon Slipstreamers in fifth.
Normal service was resumed in the Under 10 Boys with another home win – Jed Smithson stretching his massive series lead even further. Eddie McHugh’s good form from the North West Youth Tour continued and his second will have improved his fourth place overall, with Scott Fisher of Furness Future Flyers not figuring. Smithson’s team mate Joseph O’Brien took third, which ensured he hung on to second overall.
And it was another Slipstreamers rider – Caitlin Loveless – who took the Under 10 girls win with Awen Roberts of Towy Riders – 10 points behind leading girl and team mate Bethany Bennett – in second – just ahead of Bennett.
The Under 12 Boys race was active – but nobody could make a break stick. The final attempt came from Owen Lightfoot of Rutland Rouleur – trying to close the gap on series leader Max Poole of Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster - and Joe Kiely of Welwyn Wheelers.
They couldn’t get more than a couple of seconds clear before they were pulled back and it came down to a bunch sprint with Billy Gilbey of VC Londres and Joshua Giddings pulling clear of the pack to take the first two places with Poole heading the rest home.
VC Londres took first and second in the Girls race, too – with runaway series leader Isabella Escalera holding off Natalie Bloomer. Zoe Backstedt of Maindy Flyers Youth CC was third, ahead of Anna Wadsworth of Beeline Bicycles who started the day in second in the series.
The one race that didn’t end in a bunch sprint – at least, not for the win – was the Under 14 Girls which saw the joint ride of the day from Poppy Wildman of Nottingham Clarion and yet another VC Londres rider – Becky Surridge.
The two girls got away in the first third of the race and just steadily increased their advantage over the chasing pack. By the end the only question was who would win the match sprint between them – and it was tight, with Surridge just taking it. Ella Barnwell of Cranc Cyclesport took the bunch sprint with Amelia Sharpe of Team RL360 Isle of Man in fourth.
That resulted in a change of series lead with Sharpe starting the day just two points ahead of Surridge. With Barnwell starting third – 11 points behind Surridge – and Wildman just 15 points behind her, this is by far the closest of the age groups as we move into the second half of the season.
The Under 14 Boys race was another that saw lots of action – and three late crashes - but ultimately came down to an all-in gallop for the line. And, once that was the only possible outcome, the chances were that it would be Alfie George of Discovery Junior Cycling Club who took the sprint – and, so he did – but by the narrowest of margins from Lewis Askey of Lichfield City CC.
James Codd of Maindy Flyers will have improved his 11th place in the series with George pulling – slightly – further away from Askey at the top. Dylan Westley – in third place in the series – could only finish 14th, after having been in a couple of attempts to break clear earlier in the race.
The Under 16 Girls race was stopped with seven of the twenty laps to go, having been run at pace without anyone quite having the legs to get away.
A crash on the home straight at the start of a prime lap caused the re-start and ensured that it would end in yet another sprint finish. That played into the hands of Jess Roberts of RST Racing Team – and she didn’t let the opportunity slip, consolidating her substantial series lead over Lauren Dolan of Giant Cycling-Halo Films, who ensured that she stayed in contention with third place behind Elizabeth Bennett of Cardiff JIF.
The final race of the day looked as though it might see the first solo win of the day when Tom Easley of Crawley Wheelers got away in the closing stages, but after a long time out on his own he was caught first by two chasers before the three were swept up by the bunch.
A fiercely contested sprint saw Hamish Turnbull of Speedflex Race Team and Richie Allen of Achieve Northside Skinnergate just clear – with all the major contenders in the Series just behind. Leader Harry Hardcastle of Speedflex Race Team took fifth, behind second placed Fred Wright of VC Londres in fourth and Jake Stewart of Solihull CC – who will have improved his 9th overall with a third on the day.
1 Madison EMMENT Hillingdon Slipstreamers
2 Tulsi BAKRANIA Team Darenth
3 Megan LLOYD Harry Middeton Cycling Club
4 Anna LLOYD Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club
5 Elise HAWKINS Palmer Park Velo RT
6 Kim BOWLER Hillingdon Slipstreamers
1 Henry HOBBS Barking & Dagenham CC
2 Matthew WHITE Stockton Wheelers CC
3 Ryan OLDFIELD Redditch Road & Path CC
4 Maxwell ROBINSON Thanet RC
5 Finn O’BRIEN Hillingdon Slipstreamers
6 Tristan HARGREAVES Team Milton Keynes
1 Caitlin LOVELESS Hillingdon Slipstreamers
2 Awen ROBERTS Towy Riders
3 Bethany BENNETT Towy Riders
4 Millie COLEMAN Hillingdon Slipstreamers
5 Esther WONG Salt Ayre Cog Set
6 Carys LLOYD Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club
1 Jed SMITHSON Hillingdon Slipstreamers
2 Eddie McHUGH Team Terminator
3 Joseph O’BRIEN Hillingdon Slipstreamers
4 Arlo CAREY Palmer Park Velo RT
5 James BROWN Palmer Park Velo RT
6 Owen PRENELLE Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club
1 Isabella ESCALERA VC Londres
2 Natalie BLOOMER VC Londres
3 Zoe BACKSTEDT Maindy Flyers Youth CC
4 Anna WADSWORTH Beeline Bicycles RT
5 Ella MACLEAN-HOWELL Maindy Flyers Youth CC
6 Charlotte-Louise McGREEVY Team Darenth
1 Billy GILBEY VC Londres
2 Joshua GIDDINGS Heanor Clarion CC
3 Max POOLE Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster
4 Bevan SMITH Cardiff JIF
5 Finlay PICKERING Clifton CC
6 Joel CURBISHLEY Team Milton Keynes
1 Becky SURRIDGE VC Londres
2 Poppy WILDMAN Nottingham Clarion CC
3 Ella BARNWELL Cranc Cyclesport
4 Amelia SHARPE Team RL360 Isle of Man
5 Emily BRIDSON JCAYA
6 Josie GRIFFIN Welwyn Wheelers
1 Alfred GEORGE Discovery Junior Cycling Club
2 Lewis ASKEY Lichfield City CC
3 James CODD Maindy Flyers Youth CC
4 Joshua GREENWOOD Kirklees Cycling Acdemy
5 Ben TULETT Beeline Bicycles RT
6 Thomas GLOAG VC Londres
1 Jessica ROBERTS RST Racing Team
2 Elizabeth BENNETT Cardiff JIF
3 Lauren DOLAN Giant Cycling Club-Halo Films
4 Elizabeth CATLOW VC Lincoln
5 Ellie RUSSELL Sportcity Velo
6 Kim BAPTISTA Nutcracker Racing
1 Hamish TURNBULL Speedflex Race Team
2 Richie ALLEN Achieve Northside Skinnergate
3 Jake STEWART Solihull CC
4 Fred WRIGHT VC Londres
5 Harry HARDCASTLE Speedflex Race Team
6 Jim BROWN Holmfirth CC