Four new Youth National Circuit Champions were crowned on top of the iconic ‘Hoggenberg’ climb after a thrilling day of racing in Redbridge.
Weather conditions played a significant part in the action as a dull, cloying drizzle permeated much of the meeting, leaving a challenging, slippery surface in a couple of the races and contributing to a myriad of punctures which affected all four of them. But if the weather was dull, the racing was anything but, with each category going down to the wire in close, sprint finishes.
The Under-14 Girls’ race went with the form book as all the National Youth Circuit Series contenders marked each other closely throughout. Arabella Blackburn (Deeside Thistle) is a serial winner this season and took victory here in signature fashion after spending most of the race dictating proceedings on the front of the bunch. The win, by less than a second on the top of the hill ahead of Aelwen Davies (Velo Myrddin CC Y Beic), was nonetheless the biggest winning margin of the day, so tight were the finishes. Solihull CC’s Ella Tandy came through for a fine podium in third.
The Under-16 Girls’ race finish was contested by the two riders who have dominated the series this season. Awen Roberts (Liv Cycling Club- Halo Cycles) and Cat Ferguson (Storey Racing) Have been trading blows and sharing wins for much of the series since racing resumed and they can rarely be separated by more than a few millimetres. This one was the closest yet, the video judge needing to spend several minutes deciding who took it on the line, with Ferguson eventually getting the nod and the National Champion’s Jersey.
The boys’ races were dominated by Welwyn Wheelers CC whose riders took both the Under-14 and Under-16 titles. Rory Gravelle (Velo Myrddin CC Y Beic) and Henry Hobbs (Welwyn Wheelers CC) took it to the wire in a repeat of their incredibly tight finish at Hillingdon earlier in the series, with Hobbs taking the narrowest of victories, after surfing the wheel of Max Hinds (Wyre Forest CRC) who hung on for a fine third place.
The Under-16s was the only race of the day that saw a series of attacking moves as one after another riders attempted to break free of a fast-moving peloton, rapidly depleting lap by lap as the punctures and the hill took its toll. After an audacious mid-race break that saw Matt Gilmour (Velo Club Venta) spend a handful of laps off the front by as much as 35 seconds at one point, the bunch reeled him in with three to go.
Up the hill for the final time and it looked for all the world like Harry Codd (Maindy Flyers) had done enough to take the win until a flying Callum Moir (Welwyn Wheelers), having recovered from no less than two punctures during the race, finished with a blistering turn of speed to take it on the line.
“I really wanted a national title this season” revealed a delighted Moir. “I thought it was more likely to be on the track but now I’ve got this… I can’t believe it’s already happened.”