Sunday 14th April marked the start of British Cycling’s 11-round HSBC UK National Road Series with the Klondike GP held around Guisborough in East Cleveland, North Yorkshire.
The 105-mile four lap Klondike GP also acted as the first of 14 qualification events for September’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain. Needless to say there was great excitement and expectation with so much at stake.
The Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team executed a well devised plan by Directeur Sportif, Tim Elverson that resulted in a fantastic victory for Rory Townsend taking the win from a three man sprint against ex-World Tour rider Scott Thwaites (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother) and current UK National Road Race Champion, Connor Swift (Madison Genesis).
Despite constant attempts to form a breakaway group of riders, an early skirmish being prompted by Ryan Christensen (image one, pictured at Loftus Bank), it was nearly an hour before a powerful-looking group of 10 made a decisive split from the main peloton.
This group included Alex Paton and Max Stedman and quickly established an 80-second lead and maintained this advantage for the next two and a half hours of racing. This group is pictured in image two, flying back through Loftus assisted by a bracing easterly wind.
The following peloton was led and controlled almost solely by the Vitus team who worked hard to keep the time-gap to the breakaway at a manageable level and enable their strongest rider, Thwaites to ultimately have a crack at the race win.
With the benefit of already having two riders in the break, this allowed the rest of the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team to sit in behind the Vitus team and save their energy to launch attacks during the race finale.
Third photo shows Andy Tennant, Ryan Christensen, Rory Townsend, Matt Bostock and Robert John McCarthy (partially hidden).
By the third climb up Saltburn Bank, the breakaway had fragmented leaving Stedman in a reduced lead group of four with Matt Holmes, Tom Moses (Madison Genesis) and George Wood (Swift Pro Cycling). At this point Townsend also burst out of the chasing peloton forcing the strongest riders to commit to the chase.
A decisive attack by Swift on the closing short lap could only be matched by Townsend and Thwaites.
The three leaders diced it out over the last 10 miles but came into the closing few hundred metres together. After some cat-and-mouse stalling, Townsend took the inside line at the final corner and his powerful acceleration drove him clear from his podium companions to take a superb and very well deserved win.
At a post-race interview Townsend commented:
“Last year was such a bad year for me as I was plagued by injuries. I did think that could have been it for me and I wasn’t sure I would be back racing this year. Obviously Tim’s kept his faith in me and I feel I am finally paying him back. The boys really rallied around me and really looked after me all day, so I was just so relieved to pull it off for them as well.”
All in all, a great start to the season for the team with a National Road Series race win and topping the Tour of Britain qualification standings.
Written by Paul Stedman and Marina Stedman.
Images 1-5 by Paul Stedman.
Image 6 by Simon Wilkinson copyright SWpix.com