Jacob Vaughan (VC Londres) stormed to victory in the British Cycling National Junior Road Race Championships in Wales on Sunday, getting the better of his breakaway rivals in the final few metres of a thrilling race near Chepstow.
The race rolled out of the Chepstow Leisure Centre into a damp Welsh morning with fog still cloaking the higher parts of the course at Gaerllwyd.
National Series leader Peter Kibble of Velocity Globalbike – riding for Wales today – hasn’t won a round but has finished in the top 10 in all but the first round – with a third overall in last weekend’s Tour of the Kingdom the best of them.
Second-placed Rob Scott of VCUK PH-MAS Cycling Team is just five points behind him thanks in large part to third place on the Isle of Man Tour – where he took the Prologue and the second road stage. Jake Stewart of Swinnerton Cycles lies third – having finished just ahead of Scott on the Isle of Man.
As well as the Series leaders, Joseph Nally of Hardie Bikes, winner of the opening round in Wales hosted by the organisers of today’s National Championship Cadence Cycle Racing, Ryan Coulton of Pro Vision SJ Academy who took round two in the Mendips, Reece Wood, winner of the Cicle Classic for Velocity Globabike, Fred Wright of VC Londres – who won the overall in the Isle of Man Tour and Etienne Georgi who took the win over the two days in Fife were among the other pre-race favourites in a very strong field.
First to gain any sort of gap, though, was Matthew Draper of Velocity Globalbike who had ten seconds on the bunch as they exited Shirenewton on what was, broadly, the downhill leg of the course - and he was going well in the drizzle until a misunderstanding with one of the escort motorcycles resulted in a very second-hand looking bicycle and a bruised, battered and badly grazed rider. With no forks and broken bars, Draper’s race was over.
The race would continue to see small breaks eke out small gaps before being pulled back as the tough, rolling course took its toll with the leading group gradually shedding a third of its original numbers. Thomas Pidcock of VCUK PH-MAS Cycling Team and Harry Yates of Hargroves Cycles-Ridley RT put the hurt on as the race climbed back to Gaerllwyd on the second lap, with Fred Wright of VC Londres bridging across to increase their firepower.
They held on for most of the rest of the lap before being absorbed again and with two to go, Billy Robinson of Squadra RT got a gap on Eliot Redfern with JLT Condor and Kibble - with the trio a dozen seconds clear of the chasers.
On the bell lap it was Conor Davies of Speedflex Race Team and Charlie Meredith of Giant Cycling Club-Halo Films who tried their luck, but they, too were pulled back.
On the run in to the finish four riders had pulled out a minute on the group but were being chased down with Meredith and Redfern again involved, with Jacob Vaughan of VC Londres and Ryan Coulton of Pro Vision SJ Academy at the head of the race.
As the course turned towards the finish it was Vaughan, Coulton and Meredith who had the legs to pull away from the chasers with Vaughan clinching the title.
Redfern followed Meredith home a couple of seconds later with Ben Hardy of Windmill Wheels CC one of a dozen or so riders who’s bridged at least part of the gap - the bunch sprint contested for 14th place 35 seconds behind the winner.
As well as the British title, the race also formed the Welsh National Championship and it was Daniel Coombe of Planet X-Northside Cycling - 12th overall - who took the title ahead of Tomos Owen’s of Pro Vision SJ Academy and Junior Series leader Kibble.
Vaughan - whose best place in the series this year was a fourth in the first stage of The Tour of the Kingdom in Fife, said: “I just stayed in the bunch and sat on the wheels for most of it and then one of my spokes snapped with about one and a half to go – but I got that sorted quite quickly and managed to get back on.
“With one to go I could see a couple of riders going so I just wanted to go with it, but I thought they were going to get brought back. But we managed to bridge across to the other three riders, a little bit in to the climb. And I just sat on a bit and then managed to get it in the sprint.”
Coombe told a similar story as he took his first Welsh title: “It was alright at the start - I found it quite easy - and then my rear gears stopped working half way through, so I had to stop and plug them back in but it only took me 10 seconds or so to get back on because we were going uphill. And then on the last lap I just managed to roll off the front of the group and stay away.”
1 Jacob Vaughan VC Londres 2:35:50
2 Ryan Coulton Pro Vision SJ Academy st
3 Charlie Meredith Giant Cycling Club-Halo Films st
4 Elliot Redfern HMT with JLT Condor at 2sec
5 Ben Hardy Windmill Wheels CC at 7sec
6 Thomas Pidcock VCUK PH-MAS Cycling Team at 11sec
7 Adam Hartley VCUK PH-MAS Cycling Team at 12sec
8 Fergus Robinson Allen Valley Velo at 22sec
9 Anthony Anderson Team Corley Cycles at 27sec
10 Marcus Burnett DFL Ingvar Development st