The Spring sun had burned off most of the early morning mist as the riders set off from the Gwernyfed Leisure Centre in Three Cocks near Brecon in perfect bike racing whether – clear, sunny and warm - but not too warm.
The bunch exited the neutralised zone and immediately set off at a blistering pace – but not quite as fast as the half dozen riders who broke away at the head of the race. By the time they crested the short but very sharp finishing climb on the first of eight occasions Hugh Carthy of Champion System, Daniel Young of Glendene, Stuart McCluskey of Scotland had 15 seconds over Craig Wallace of Granite City RT with Tom Armstrong of Mountivation Development Academy and George Pym of the South West 12 seconds behind Wallace, eight seconds ahead of the bunch.
The bunch seem unconcerned, with Jon Dibben of Hargroves Cycles always on the front, controlling the pace. Wallace joined the lead trio and the lead gradually drifted out to over two and a half minutes over the main group, with Owen James of M&D Kinetica now keeping Armstrong company just off the front of the peloton.
By the half way stage the gap was steady at around two minutes when Josh Parkin of Forme Bikes and Peter Cocker of Whitham Wheelers slipped off the front of the bunch to join Armstrong and James in the chase – easing out a 30 second gap on the peloton with Alex Peters of Mosquito Bikes coming across to them.
Five laps in and the four leaders were still clear – and still two minutes ahead of the disintegrating main group. The chase group was now five-strong, with Peters having joining them, but the dynamic of the race had changed and it was looking less likely to stay away.
They stayed away for another lap and although the gap to the main bunch was still a relatively comfortable minute and thirty seconds back, the gap to the peloton was largely irrelevant with a number of chasing groups strung out between the leaders and the pack. The closest of those chasing groups - led by Peters – was just 10 seconds behind the leading quartet and a strong group including Tao Geoghegan Hart of CC Hackney and Sam Lowe of Hargroves Cycles was closing the gap fast.
Wallace was out on his own as the race crested the hill for the final time but Geoghegan Hart had broken away from the chasing pack was just 10 seconds behind. Attacking on the short descent following the main climb, he closed the gap to Wallace and pressed on alone.
By the final climb Geoghegan Hart had built up a substantial lead over the fragmented field, taking a fine solo win 27 seconds ahead of Dibben who had led the bunch for most of the race. Chris Lawless of Champion System came home forty seconds further back with Dibben’s team mate Sam Lowe a twenty seconds behind Lawless in fourth.
Speaking to British Cycling after the race, Geoghegan Hart admitted: “That was one of the hardest races of my life, really. The last 10k was so, so difficult – especially when Jon [Dibben] was 10 seconds back- but I just got my head down and hoped for the best.
“I actually felt awful at the start of the race, to be honest – real, real bad – struggling with the kicks out of the corners in the bunch and all sorts – just not feeling great. But then I got across and just thought I needed to give it something on that climb with 14k to go, otherwise it might all come together and come down to a sprint, which I didn’t really fancy.
“I think [the gap] went up to three minutes at one point – it was a big, big gap – and there were a lot of people in the bunch thought it was game over, actually, but I guess it’s the kind of course where gaps can come down quite quickly when the pace is on. We got across to the main chase group with two and half to go with Sam Lowe and Chris Latham – there were about 15 of us in the break at that point – and then with one to go, over the crest of the climb after the finish line I went on my own, caught the solo rider that was up the road [Craig Wallace of Granite City] but he wasn’t too keen to work and we only had about 10 seconds so I pressed on my own.”
Left to right: Dibben, Hart and Lawless
1. Tao Geoghegan Hart Cycling Club Hackney
2. Jonathan Dibben Hargroves Cycles-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's @27”
3. Chris Lawless Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos @1’ 09”
4. Samuel Lowe Hargroves Cycles-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's @1’ 30”
5. James King Mountivation Development Academy
6. Harry Tanfield Teamwallis Chh Racing Team
7. Will Stephenson Primera Specialized
8. Jacob Ragan Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos
9. Hugh Carthy Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos
10. Christopher Latham Champion System/Maxgear/Kyklos