Harry Birchill and Millie Couzens secured brilliant wins at the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix in the third round of the men's and fourth round of the women's National Road Series.
Millie Couzens (Fenix-Deceuninck) sprinted to victory over a select group of favourites at the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix after an attritional race, taking her third victory in less than a month.
The 19-year-old was ever-present at the front of the race, covering moves by the dominant DAS-Handsling and Pro-Noctis-Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee teams, before forcing her way into the final break of the day and proving fastest on the uphill finish.
The race rolled out from the grounds of Ampleforth Abbey and Danni Shrosbree (DAS-Handsling) was the first rider to attack, accelerating on the steepest slopes of one of the early climbs. Her move was matched by a vigilant Hutchinson-Brother UK team, but it set off a flurry of attacks over the next half an hour of racing.
Loughborough Lightning, Hutchinson-Brother UK, and Team Boompods were next to respond, but it came to nothing on the rolling hills. Instead, it was Shrosbree and Bexy Dew (Pro-Noctis--Heidi Kjeldsen-200 Degrees Coffee) who finally broke clear of the peloton at the end of the first lap.
The two riders settled into a rhythm and eventually built up a lead of almost 40 seconds on the chasing bunch led by riders from Hutchinson-Brother UK and Alba Development RT, whose pace was forcing a gradual selection until only 18 riders were left in the depleted peloton.
Meanwhile, the two riders up the road were slowing and their gap was eventually closed down by Tiffany Keep (Hutchinson-Brother UK) with 30km to go. Lucy Lee (DAS-Handsling) immediately countered, only to be shut down by Millie Couzens.
Last year’s winner, Abi Smith (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) was next to show her strength, but the current series leader, Monica Greenwood (DAS-Handsling) was quick to react.
Coming through the Abbey grounds for the penultimate time, Ella Jamieson (Liv Cycling Club-Halo Films) launched a stinging attack. It was initially marked by Lee, but as more riders responded, the group swelled to 10 and they quickly built up a lead of over 30 seconds.
With 10km to go, Mary Wilkinson (Team Boompods) accelerated on the steepest slope of the short laps main climb, but was unable to shake the others. Next, an attack by Lucy Gadd (Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime) just before the 6km mark saw her gain a handful of seconds, but it wasn’t enough and the group was all together as they came into the final kilometre.
Wilkinson opened the sprint with 250m to go and it looked for a moment like she would hold the lead all the way to the line, but Couzens bided her time and accelerated in the final 50m, coming around the Team Boompods rider and taking the win ahead of Keep and Wilkinson.
Greenwood held onto her series lead while Wilkinson is now second in the National Road Series standings.
Harry Birchill led Saint Piran to a stunning 1-2-3-4-5 clean sweep at the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix, helping the team to their third consecutive win in the National Road Series and his first series victory.
Birchill’s teammate and former Ryedale Grand Prix winner, Alex Richardson, was absent due to illness, but it didn’t dent the team’s firepower at the race. The current series leader, Zeb Kyffin, had won at the previous round in Lancaster.
The attacks flew almost as soon as the flag dropped and Guy Drabble (Ribble rechrg Race Team) was the first to drive a small group clear. That move was short-lived, but Kyffin was clearly feeling good, and he surprised the bunch with a move of his own in the first 15 minutes of the race.
Kyffin went clear with Rob Scott and Damien Clayton (Embark Spirit BSS), quickly building up a gap of 30 seconds on the chasing bunch, led by Wales Racing Academy and Kalas Motip. However, Scott suffered a mechanical issue coming into the Abbey grounds after 25km, meaning Clayton and Kyffin were forced to carry on alone, and the duo were swept up before the end of the second lap.
With no one team taking control at the front of the race, attacks started to fly once more and the next 15 minutes of racing saw a group of 13 riders form at the front. Clayton was present yet again, this time alongside Adam Lewis and Bradley Symonds of Saint Piran.
Meanwhile, back in the bunch, the Saint Piran trio of Kyffin, Finn Crockett and Birchill had broken clear alongside Conor McGoldrick (Richardsons-Trek DAS) and Ed Morgan (Wales Racing Academy), and they were closing in on the front group.
Those two groups came together before the halfway mark and, as the leading riders hit the small circuits, Kyffin went clear once again with Birchill, Lewis, and Ed Morgan. However, Morgan was unable to stick with the Saint Piran trio and dropped back to a chasing group with 55km to go.
The gap between the lead and the seven chasers continued to grow, stretching out to over three minutes with 30km left to race.
In the second group, Symonds and Crockett broke clear of the others to make it five riders from Saint Piran occupying the top five positions on the road.
With the win all but secured, Kyffin, Lewis, and Birchill could look to the finish. Unlike previous victories, this time they were given free reign to race for the win. An attack by Kyffin dropped Lewis on the descent into the Ampleforth Abbey grounds with 16km to go, but he was unable to do the same with Birchill. Instead, the two riders rolled into the final kilometre together.
With 200m to go, Birchill led out the sprint, kicking hard and dropping Kyffin with 50m to go, giving him plenty of time to sit up and enjoy the win.
Behind, Adam Lewis held on for third, while Crockett and Symonds came in fourth and fifth respectively, rounding out an incredible day for Saint Piran.
The riders will next take to the National Road Series in the fifth round for the women at the Curlew Cup, and the fourth round for the men in the Beaumont Trophy in the north east of England on Sunday 17 September.