Eluned King crowned CiCLE Classic winner at opening National Series round

Eluned King crowned CiCLE Classic winner at opening National Series round

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Eluned King (Lifeplus-Wahoo) powered to a dominant sprint victory at the ANEXO/CAMS Women’s CiCLE Classic ahead of Eilidh Shaw (Alba Development Road Team) and Alice McWilliam (Hess Cycling Team), finally taking the victory after third-place finishes in 2021 and 2022.

The 21-year-old had a mixed start to the season, finishing highly in Beernem, Belgium, before abandoning Nokere Koerse. However, the CiCLE Classic favoured King, who could use her strength and experience to conquer its seven off-road sectors.

The CiCLE Classic is a race that favours riders with a cyclo-cross background. “This is more an extension of the cross season,” explained Hope Inglis (Brother UK-On Form) - a rider with multiple podium finishes in the cyclo-cross National Trophy Series and top results in the UK and abroad.

Inglis’ Brother UK-On Form team acts as a stepping stone for riders hoping to reach the UCI Women’s Continental teams and beyond, and the CiCLE Classic offered an opportunity to go head-to-head with riders of King’s calibre.

Eilidh Shaw

King was a strong favourite on the start line alongside McWilliam, who was fourth in 2022, and last year's overall National Road Series winner, Monica Greenwood (Team Coop-Hitec Products).

The peloton was restless leaving Melton Mowbray, and the first attack to gain a real gap came from Sian Marsh (Team Boompods) and Katy Hill (London Academy). The duo worked well together to build their advantage to almost half a minute going through Owston. However, a crash from Hill saw Marsh push on alone, extending her lead but facing an increasingly motivated bunch behind.

By the time the bunch reached the Somerberg sector for the first time - a 2.2km gravel sector including a fearsome climb -, the peloton was all back together with Greenwood at the helm and McWilliam locked on her wheel. Behind them, the bunch was slowly splitting under the pressure.

In the melee of the Somerberg, 17 riders went clear, fighting to hold off a more significant chase led by the Brother UK-On Form team.

With all of the pre-race favourites making the front split, there was little incentive to work and the momentum quickly left the front group. Instead, the two groups came together to form a leading group of 26 riders.

Shaw hit the front on the fourth passage of Owston to take the Heart of Owston sprint and she carried her effort over the summit of the climb, but she was unable to break free as McWilliam’s Hess Cycling teammates controlled the front of the peloton.

On the run-in back to Melton Mowbray, the lead bunch split once again and the Pro-Noctis-200º Coffee-Hargreaves Contracting Ltd found themselves on the wrong side of it. Sensing an opportunity, the leaders began to cooperate and the gap steadily rose to over 90 seconds.

CiCLE Classic

Coming into the final kilometre, Hess Cycling Team still had three riders and it seemed that they were best placed to set up McWilliam for a sprint finish.

However, King launched her sprint early and leapt clear from the group, quickly gaining a few bike lengths and holding the advantage all the way to the line, beating Shaw and McWilliam by a bike length.

King’s victory means she also takes the series lead ahead of the next round of the National Road Series at the East Cleveland Classic on 14 April.

Full results

Junior Open

Ahron Dick (HUUB BCC Race Team) also took a stunning victory earlier in the day, catching lone leader Milo McIntosh (The Cycling Academy) on the line after a wet and challenging 10th edition of the ANEXO/CAMS Junior CiCLE Classic.

The HUUB BCC Race Team were favourites coming into the race, with last year’s winner, Lewis Tinsley, on the start sheet once again. However, it was Dick who took advantage of the pouring rain and muddy gravel sectors to take the win.

The bunch thundered into the first sector at full speed, whittling down the peloton before the first passage of the Somerberg. It was there that the bunch split, led by Fensham Howes-MAS Design, HUUB BCC Race Team, and The Cycling Academy.

Ahron Dick

Coming into the race, Dick had planned to attack on the second passage of the Somerberg, and it didn’t take long for his efforts to pay off. A group of 20 riders went clear, before four riders, led by Tinsley, countered and gained a small advantage.

On the final circuits around Melton Mowbray, two Fensham Howes-MAS Design riders attacked. Dick marked the move and the trio made the bridge to the leaders with one lap to go.

As they made the junction, McIntosh went clear on his own and looked to have sealed the win, before Dick jumped clear of the chasers in pursuit. The two riders were locked in a battle, but Dick came around a fading McIntosh in the final 50m, taking the win on the line and raising his hands in celebration. Luca Bednarek (Fensham Howes-MAS Design) won the sprint for third from the remaining breakaway riders.

The next round of the Open Junior National Road Series takes place at the Cadence Road Race in Wales on 14 April.

Full results