Saturday saw the British Cycling Youth Circuit Series arrive in Cardiff, Wales. This was the fifth round, the Maindy Flyers Youth Circuit Races.
The start village for the Velothon of Wales provided a spectacular setting for the latest round of the British Cycling National Youth Circuit Series in Cardiff City centre. With all the barriers, advertising hoardings and finish line cabins of a major stage race, the riders must have felt like they’d reached the big time.
With the spectacular backdrop around the H-shaped course around the civic and University buildings surrounding Alexandra Gardens it was an almost perfect venue.
The combination of a rough, pot-holed road surface and weather that ranged from fine drizzle to steady light rain to damp made the course a real challenge – and before the first race had even started one of the arms of the ‘H’ had been removed as the 180 degree turn at the end was just too slippery.
But the first race set off as the chimes from the clock on Cardiff Vila died away and it was Ryan Oldfield of Redditch Road & Path who took a commanding lead in the under eight boys race – finding his way round the 1.7km course and stretching out a 14 second lead over Matthew White of Stockton Wheelers with Maxwell Robinson of Thanet RC in third.
The under eight girls saw another Lloyd one-two with Anna of Lee Valley Youth CC taking the win this time, three seconds ahead of Megan of Harry Middleton Cycling Club – with Ella Harris of Halesowen in third.
In the under 10 boys it was another dominant performance from Jed Smithson who rode away from the rest of the field and never looked in any danger. At the end he had plenty of time to celebrate as he finished six seconds ahead of a group of four rides with Owen Prenelle of Lee Valley taking second on the line, ahead of James Brown of Palmer Park Velo.
Bethany Bennett of Towy Riders rode most of the race in amongst the third group of boys on the road and finished over a minute and a half up on her nearest rival – team mate Awen Roberts – with Caitlin Loveless of Hillingdon Slipstreamers a further 36 seconds behind.
The under 12s race saw four crashes in the opening in lap – including one that saw a bike so tangled up with the barriers that it took some time to extract. Once it restarted, battle re-commenced between the series front runners with Max Poole of Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster, Joshua Giddings of Heanor Clarion, Finlay Pickering of Clifton CC and Joshua Tarling of West Wales Cycle Racing Team to the fore.
It was a close thing until the closing stages where – after almost every race finishing in a bunch sprint at the last round in Hillingdon – we saw another solo victory with Poole distancing himself from his rivals. Giddings eased away from Pickering in the run in to take second.
Isabella Escalara of VC Londres was isolated from the rest of the under 12 girls race, sticking with the main chasing group of Boys for most of the race. Superb bike handling – as well as sheer pace – left here two minutes and fourteen seconds ahead of Zoe Backstedt of home town – and race organizing – club Maindy Flyers, with Libby Smith of Fossa Racing taking third.
After the massive field of 43 riders for the under 14 girls at Hillingdon, there were just 17 starters this time round and two thirds of them circulated together for most of the race with Poppy Wildman of Nottingham Clarion and Elynor Backstedt of Maindy Flyers doing much of the work at the front. The group split slightly in the closing stages leaving Wildman, Becky Surridge of VC Londres, Amelia Sharpe of Team RL 360 Isle of Man and Josie Griffin of Welwyn Wheelers to contest the sprint – finishing in that order with virtually nothing to separate them.
A couple of races had already seen breakaway wins – but nothing like we saw in the under 14 boys race where a ride that would surely have been most people’s choice for ride of the day – at least up until this point – saw Zach Bridges of Cardiff JIF off the front from the start.
Not one to do things the easy way, Bridges crashed in the opening laps and was briefly reinserted into the field with Lewis Askey of Lichfield City CC and Dylan Westley of Albarosa Cycling Club – before he rode away again. The question was never whether he would win but simply how big a margin he would win by. Thirty three seconds, was the answer – with Askey edging Westley in the sprint for second.
What, we thought, could top that? Well, more of the same – this time from Lauren Dolan of Giant Cycling Club in the under 16 girl’s race – who nipped into pole position in the Ride of the Day stakes with another solo win, but this time staying ahead of a large, well organised chasing bunch led by series leader Jessica Roberts of RST Racing Team.
To ensure she stayed just ahead of Bridges, she coped with late race drama when a crash involving Harriet Mellor of Hillingdon Slipstreamers brought the race to a halt with four laps to go. Restarted with a lead of just over half a minute, she’d extended that to 47 seconds by the end – with Roberts taking the bunch sprint at the head of a pack of a dozen riders, with Lauren Murphy of Welwyn Wheelers in third.
Drama of a different sort in the under 16 boys race saw Harry Hardcastle of Marton Race Team crash with just over five laps to go while in a small group chasing three breakaway leaders. Mistakenly put back in to the race in with the lead group after his lap out, he was instructed by race officials to drop back to his prior position a lap later, which he duly did. Then he set about bridging back across to the leaders and, improbably, outsprinting them on the line! Fred Wright from VC Londres took second ahead of Matthew Cox of Bristol Cycling Development Squad in what was – just - the pick of the final three winning rides of the day.
The circus moves on to Milton Keynes city centre next weekend – with a similar parcours – for the penultimate round of the series.
Under eight girls:
1 Anna Lloyd Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club 23:26
2 Megan Lloyd Harry Middleton Cycling Club @3 Seconds
3 Ella Harris Halesowen A & Cc @7:50
Under eight boys:
1 Ryan Oldfield Redditch Road & Path Cc 24:01
2 Matthew White Stockton Wheelers Cc @14 Seconds
3 Maxwell Robinson Thanet Rc @19
4 Charlie Beckett Cardiff Jif @1:55
5 Tulsi Bakrania Team Darenth Same Time
6 Jude Mcgreevy Team Darenth @2:01
Under 10 girls:
1 Bethany Bennett Towy Riders 22:05
2 Awen Roberts Towy Riders @1:35
3 Caitlin Loveless Hillingdon Slipstreamers @2:11
4 Carys Lloyd Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club @2:40
5 Elen Price Maindy Flyers Youth Cc Same Time
6 Esther Wong Salt Ayre Cog Set 3:43
Under 10 boys:
1 Jed Smithson Hillingdon Slipstreamers 21:18
2 Owen Prenelle Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club @6 Seconds
3 James Brown Palmer Park Velo Rt Same Time
4 Luke Harris Halesowen A & Cc @7
5 Daniel Wylie-Morris M And D Cycles / Fusion Rt / Worx St
6 Scott Fisher Furness Future Flyers @25
Under 12 girls:
1 Isabella Escalera Vc Londres 19:43
2 Zoe Backstedt Maindy Flyers Youth Cc @2:14
3 Libby Smith Fossa Racing @2:22
4 Tilly Percy Salt Ayre Cog Set Same Time
5 Niamha Albones Liverpool Century Rc @2:27
6 Grace Lister Wolverhampton Whls @3:25
Under 12 boys:
1 Max Poole Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster 18:51
2 Joshua Giddings Heanor Clarion Cc @4
3 Finlay Pickering Clifton Cc @6
4 Joshua Tarling West Wales Cycle Racing Team @14
5 Owen Lightfoot Rutland Rouleur @44
6 Tyler Hannay Team Rl360 Isle Of Man @49
Under 14 girls:
1 Poppy Wildman Nottingham Clarion CC 43:13
2 Becky Surridge VC Londres same time
3 Amelia Sharpe Team RL360 Isle Of Man st
4 Josie Griffin Welwyn Wheelers CC st
5 Elena Smith Fossa Racing @6 seconds
6 Elynor Backstedt Maindy Flyers Youth CC @8
Under 14 boys:
1 Zach Bridges Cardiff JIF 43:23
2 Lewis Askey Lichfield City CC 43:56 0:33
3 Dylan Westley Albarosa Cycling Club 43:57 0:34
4 Samuel Watson Chevin Cycles.com Trek 43:57
5 James Codd Maindy Flyers Youth CC 45:03 1:40
6 Joshua Greenwood Kirklees Cycling Academy 45:03
Under 16 girls:
1 Lauren Dolan Giant Cycling Club - Halo Films 52:15
2 Jessica Roberts RST Racing Team 53:02 0:47
3 Lauren Murphy Welwyn Wheelers CC 53:02
4 Anna Docherty Clifton CC 53:02
5 Ellie Russell Sportcity Velo 53:02
6 Jayati Hine RST Racing Team 53:02
Under 16 boys:
1 Harry Hardcastle Marton Race Team 56:19
2 Fred Wright VC Londres @1
3 Matthew Cox Bristol Cycling Development Squad same time
4 Jamie Ridehalgh Marton Race Team st
5 Charles Page Edgware RC @2
6 Anthony Anderson Sigma Sport.co.uk same time