The first two races in the three-round 2021 HSBC UK National Road Series bookended an intensive week of racing for the Canyon dhb SunGod team who also had two races in Belgium in between.
Lancaster Grand Prix
The racing week opened with the 160km Lancaster GP on 15th August, an eleven-lap undulating parcours with three climbs of around 60 metres elevation each per lap, starting and finishing in Williamson Park which features the impressive Ashton Memorial building.
- The Peloton in the Lancashire countryside with the Ashton Memorial on the horizon
With Matthew Bostock and Rory Townsend side-lined by injury, the Canyon dhb SunGod riders competing were Ryan Christensen, Damien Clayton, Callum MacLeod, Jacob Scott, Max Stedman, Dan Tulett, Reece Wood and participating in his first ‘Premier Calendar’ event, recently turned 19 years old, Euan MacLeod.
Competition was expected to come from the usual quarters such as James Shaw (Ribble Weldtite), Joey Walker (Crimson Orientation Marketing) and ProTour rider John Archibald (Eolo-Kometa), but also some of the younger riders who had perhaps been riding ‘under the radar’ during the Covid-enforced break from racing.
Canyon dhb SunGod rode in their trademark aggressive style with all eight of the team riding on or close to the front of the peloton for much of the opening half of the race.
- Canyon dhb SunGod at the front of the Peloton
The last of the three significant hills on each lap was the 7% average, 0.7km long climb up Proctor Moss Road, which was the designated KOM point and scene of a number of the most dangerous looking breakaway attempts. Walker was the first rider to get a few seconds gap here on the fourth lap, but he was rapidly closed down by Christensen who had been racking up a few KOM points along the way.
- Christensen was active in the early KOM battles
Wood had a similar gap on the fifth lap, but it was not until the seventh lap that a move attained a convincing gap. This time it was Jacob Scott accompanied by Toby Barnes (Crimson Orientation Marketing) and Michael Chadwick (Clancy Briggs). By the 8th lap the lead had opened up to 1min 15sec on the climb, though Chadwick had dropped off the pace.
- Jacob Scott & Toby Barnes in the breakaway
On the 9th lap four riders, Josh Whitehouse (Team PB Performance), Isaac Peatfield (Crimson), Finn Crockett (Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli) and Wood bridged across from the peloton to the two leaders giving Canyon dhb SunGod the advantage in numbers in the break. During the last lap Barnes and Wood were dropped from the break leaving four riders to contest the small rise to the finish. It was 21 year old Whitehead who took the victory in his first National A race outsprinting Scott in second and Crockett in third. Christensen finished well, getting away from the peloton and taking 6th place with Tulett rounding out the top 10.
- Jacob Scott finishing behind winner Josh Whitehouse
Stedman was 24th, Wood 31st, Callum MacLeod 36th, Euan MacLeod a creditable 41st and Clayton 55th.
- Tim Elverson discusses the race with the team
Scott’s time in the breakaway enabled him to seize enough points to take the KOM prize ahead of Christensen. Canyon dhb SunGod also took the team win from Crimson Orientation Marketing.
- Jacob Scott on the Podium in the KOM winner’s jersey
Following the race, Jacob Scott commented on Instagram:
‘”Threw some shapes yesterday and said Adios to the rule book. The @canyondhbsungod lads controlled everything perfectly which eventually led to second for me. Was a shame I couldn’t go one step higher for them.”
Grasscrete Rydale Grand Prix
Having only arrived back from Belgium on the Friday evening, the team travelled up to North Yorkshire on Saturday for the Grasscrete Rydale Grand Prix taking place on Sunday, 22nd August.
Compared to Lancaster the previous Sunday, Thomas Mein, Rob Scott (back to racing after battling with Covid) and Ollie Wood (recently returned from the Toyko Olympics and participating in his first road race for 2 years) came in for Euan MacLeod, Dan Tulett and Ollie Wood’s younger brother Reece.
- Simon Holt & Tim Elverson plan race strategy
The field of 140 riders were participating on the traditional Ampleforth Abbey & College circuit of 3 long laps and 5 shorter laps all passing up through the scenic college grounds which incorporated the steep 200 metre climb to the finishing line.
The competition was similar to that in Lancaster though SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling were returning after their demanding 10-day Volta a Portugal which Alex Peters, Ross Lamb and Ollie Peckover had completed. Ribble Weldtite were missing some key riders who were participating in the Tour of Norway.
- The peloton passes Ampleforth Abbey
After numerous breakaway attempts that went nowhere, Thomas Mein got away with Matthew Kingston (Zappi Race Team) on the third large lap and with the rest of the Canyon dhb SunGod team letting Mein on his way, the pace went out of the chasing peloton.
- Thomas Mein and Matt Kingston in their long breakaway
The gap rapidly went out to over three minutes and a half minutes until SwiftCarbon upped the pace on the smaller circuits. Mein and Kingston were gradually reeled in with what was left of the peloton made the catch with just 2 laps to go.
- Rob Scott leads the chase
- Stedman leads Peters & Christensen through the college grounds
Stedman forced a break of 4 riders on the main climb on the last lap with Peters, Toby Barnes (Crimson Orientation Marketing) and Isaac Mundy (Richardson’s-Trek) going with him. Stedman then made an attempt to go solo, but the group of 4 got back together and shortly later Ollie Rees (Trinity Racing) bridged across from the trailing group with Callum MacLeod close on his wheel. MacLeod led the group over the last couple of kilometres but the remaining riders bided their time until the final 200 metres sprint uphill to the line. Peters proved strongest in the finish marginally ahead of Barnes in second and Rees in third. After his last lap efforts, Stedman came over the line in 5th just behind Mundy.
- Peters wins from Barnes and Rees (Stedman obscured in centre)
- Max Stedman finishes 5th
MacLeod rolled in 6th with Jacob Scott in 9th towards the front of the next group, 26sec down. Christensen and Clayton were 19th and 20th at 36sec. With only 50 finishers, Rob Scott and Ollie Wood were DNF on their return to the roads.
Canyon dhb SunGod were level in team classification with SwiftCarbon though they keep the series lead. Jacob Scott’s 9th place puts him in the individual classification lead and he will be wearing the series leader’s jersey in the last round at the Beaumont Trophy in late September.
- Jacob Scott in the Series Leader’s Jersey
Following the race, Max Stedman commented on Twitter:
“Gave it a good old crack, a bit gutted to be honest! Legs were, well I thought mega until the sprint opened up… Congratulations to @alexpeters_94! Another very strong aggressive ride from @canyondhbsungod lads.”
If you like the photos in this report you can see more from the 2 races in our photo gallery here.