Archibald takes CiCLE Classic crown in dramatic Melton Mowbray finale

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Katie Archibald took the CiCLE Classic crown in dramatic circumstances after sprinting to the line in damp conditions in an enthralling HSBC UK | National Women's Road Series race.

The Rio 2016 gold medallist held off a strong challenge in the closing stages, with the Team WNT Pro Cycling rider also claiming the Queen of the Mountain crown after a gripping day in Melton Mowbray.

Laura Massey - who had led for large parts of the race - had to settle for second, while Hannah Payton bridged the gap between the leaders and the peloton brilliantly to finish fourth.

But there was also plenty to smile about for Nikki Juniper, with the HSBC UK | National Women's Road Series champion recovering from a broken collarbone two months ago to take the last step on the podium.

Tense opening in Melton Mowbray

With rain around and road conditions far from smooth, it was understandable that the riders kept themselves together for the early part of the race.

That included heading up Cuckoo Hill, with the differences in terrain making it difficult for any pace-setters to get a clear run of the field, though the peloton continued to spread out with the narrow paths.

It seemed like one group of five may form clear but, when they were hauled in, the tone for the race was set, one in which any breakaway could prove vital.

Massey makes her mark

The tricky setting ensured an inevitable crash occurred, but it was from there where we had our first outright leader in Massey.

The Drops Cycling rider made the most of a bit of room to quickly give herself a 30-second lead, making the most of others misfortunes, which included punctures in the field.

The lead was to keep on growing too, at one point getting to 1:45 as Massey profited from clear roads and off-road tracks to make her mark on the rest of the field.

It was an advantage that kept increasing too, leading the way with 34km still to go in Leicestershire.

Archibald and Juniper lead the charge

It needed a big effort for Massey to be caught, and the first signs of that came from Archibald and Juniper, with the latter looking to show the form that had seen her become HSBC UK | National Women's Road Series champion.

Archibald herself boasts plenty of pedigree, with the two very quickly making up ground as once again conditions proved testing for those behind, seemingly putting an end to hopes of anyone but the front three taking the crown.

With the rain now driving onto the roads, the three came together once more - each looking to find their own break and seal the victory.

And it looked as though it would come to the final moments, with another twist in store coming from further back in the field.

Payton fights as Archibald sprints home

While some may have expected a three-horse race from here on, nobody had shown the script to Payton.

She came roaring back in the final stages as four eyed up the finish line in the closing kilometre, with little to choose between them after more than two hours in the saddle.

But it was to be Archibald - who admitted she hadn't always timed her finales right recently - who got the spring at the right time to take the win.

Massey was to take second while Juniper - still in recovery from her broken collarbone - almost stepped on the podium as Payton was forced to settle for fourth.

Chanel Mason, despite not picking up any points, maintained her HSBC UK | National Women's Road Series lead, while Drops took their place atop the team standings.

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HSBC UK | Women's National Road Series: CiCLES Classic