Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team) sprinted to victory in the National Junior Road Race Championships in North Yorkshire on Saturday.
The Isle of Man rider – who won the latest round of the National Junior Series in Devon the week before - edged to victory just a second ahead of Robert Scott (VCUK PH MAS), while Alfie Moses (HMT Academy) completed the podium in third.
The roads around Ampleforth would be tough enough in good weather – but the weather rarely cooperates. As they did last year, the riders faced a battle against gale force winds and unseasonably low temperatures - but at least it stayed dry this year.
At a little over 64 miles, the course came through the grounds of Ampleforth College five times – having been round three laps of the long circuit through Yearsley Moor and Oulston and back round the edge of the Moor to Gilling before returning to the start area – and two of the shorter (but by no means short) circuit that misses out the Oulston loop.
The tough climbs and near gale force winds took their toll on the 100 starters from the first lap and as they re-entered the sports grounds for the gruelling, exposed climb past the college, two riders were clear. Kieran Simcox of Bike Box Alan/Enevelopemaster and team mate Max Williamson had a 40 second advantage over James Ireson of Wolverhampton Wheelers with the bunch a further 18 seconds back.
The second lap saw the decisive move of the race led by HTM Academy trio Stuart Balfour, Alex Braybrooke and Alfie Moses. They were joined by Rob Scott of VCUK PH-MAS, Jack Mattock of Giant Cycling Halo Films, Tom England and 2014 runner-up Nathan Draper of RST Racing Team.
After two laps, the group had a lead of just 20 seconds or so over the bunch which was being animated by the riders from Catford CC - but that would gradually drift out to a maximum of around one minute and forty seconds.
By the end of the third of the long laps it was down to just over a minute but the chase was up – there simply wasn’t enough distance left to reel the lead group back in and they chasers knew it. Edward Giles of RP Racing Team and George Clark of High Wycombe CC led the chasers up past the abbey but by the bell, the gap was back out to a minute and a half and the peloton was completely fragmented.
As they headed back to Ampleforth for the last time Draper, Scott and Moses struck out on their own and it was Draper who weren’t early, leading out the sprint and putting the merest hint of daylight between himself and Scott on the line – the VC UK PH-MAS rider taking silver – a second back – with Moses clinching the Bronze behind him.
The last lap saw the leading trio double their advantage over the peloton while the rest of the group that had been away all afternoon were spread over the road behind them – Braybrooke taking fourth over a minute behind the Manxman with England four seconds behind him. Balfour dropped thirty seconds further back with Mattock just holding off the bunch at just under two minutes behind the winner.
The bunch sprint from the remains of the peloton went to Owen Dudley of Manx Viking Wheelers with Karl Baillie giving HMT Academy four of the top 10 a couple of seconds adrift.
Having had to settle for silver behind Tristan Robins last year, Draper was delighted to take the jersey at the second time of asking. He told British Cycling: “It was a tough race with just being on my own so I sort of did a similar ride to last week – a bit of ducking and diving, you know – making sure I found the right wheels and covered the moves but didn’t put my nose into the wind too much.
“Early on – about 30k in – me and Alfie got to the top of one of the climbs and I thought if we could drive this it could maybe work out. As it did, the gap grew a little bit and we had a couple of riders with us and on this sort of course it’s a little bit ‘out of sight, out of mind’, so when we got the gap I was just trying to get everyone to really commit and we were really working well together.
“Over the top of the last climb I thought ‘I’m going to try something here – try to split the group down’ and I managed to get it down to three of us and I thought ‘there’s a podium here’ – but I wanted to go one better than last year and coming up to the sprint I thought I’d jink from the back – go a little bit earlier than I did last year because that was a mistake and when I looked behind me I had the win – it was a great feeling.”
1 Nathan Draper RST Racing Team 02:48:56
2 Robert Scott VCUK PH-MAS Junior Cycling Team 1
3 Alfie Moses HMT Academy with JLT Condor 3
4 Alexander Braybrooke HMT Academy with JLT Condor 01:06
5 Tom England BC Private Member 01:10
6 Stuart Balfour HMT Academy with JLT Condor 01:41
7 Jack Mattock Giant Cycling Club - Halo Films 01:59
8 Owen Dudley Manx Viking Whls CC 02:03
9 Karl Baillie HMT Academy with JLT Condor 02:05
10 Tom Chandler Sherwood Pines Cycles SRAM RT same time
11 Jack Billyard RP Racing Team same time
12 Matthew Walls Velocity Globalbike same time
13 George Clark High Wycombe Cycling Club 02:09
14 William Lewis High Peak Cycles RT same time
15 Timothy Home NRG/Godleys RT 02:11
16 Kieran Simcox Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster same time
17 James McKay Finchley Racing Team same time
18 Gabriel Evans Catford CC Equipe/Banks 02:13
19 Jack Escritt HMT Academy with JLT Condor same time
20 Charlie Meredith Giant Cycling Club - Halo Films 02:17
21 Max Williamson Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster 02:18
22 Elliot Redfern Giant Cycling Club - Halo Films same time
23 Murray Davies In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp RT same time
24 Alexander Foster Border City Wheelers CC 02:21
25 Lewis Bulley Velocity Globalbike 02:24
26 Harry Luxton Rutrainingtoday CC same time
27 Harrison Jones Pedal Heaven RT 02:26
28 Louis Modell Catford CC Equipe/Banks 02:27
29 Adam Hartley VCUK PH-MAS Junior Cycling Team 02:29
30 Ralf Hodgson VCUK PH-MAS Junior Cycling Team 02:33
31 Kieran Savage www.Zepnat.com RT - GSG Clothin 02:37
32 Tim James Bourne Whls CC 02:39
33 David Barnes Corley Cycles - Drops RT 02:47
34 Matthew Clements Catford CC Equipe/Banks 03:35
35 Matthias Barnet Spokes Racing Team 04:50
36 Charlie McFadzean Cycle Sport Dynamo 06:08
37 Fabian Brennan North City Velo Cycling Team 07:40
38 George Evans Mid Shropshire Wheelers 08:57
1 lap Oliver Hedger Personal Bikefit.com
1 lap James Wilkinson Audlem Cycling Club
1 lap Zeb Kyffin Gosforth RC
1 lap Peter Merritt TBW Bottecchia Wigmore RT
1 lap Timothy Jones Cycle Sport Pendle
1 lap Ewan Grivell-Mellor Mid Shropshire Wheelers