Max Stedman produced a brave display to finish ninth in the Beaumont Trophy as Pete Williams carried off the crown in Stamfordham.
In a thrilling climax, ONE Pro’s Williams escaped from the break with JLT Condor’s James Gullen to contest the finish after a gruelling 187km battle in soaring temperatures.
Stedman, who was 11th in the UCI 1.2 contest last season, crossed the line as the remainder of the front group arrived at the finish a mere seven seconds later.
Team-mate Harry Tanfield finished 14th, while Dexter Gardias, who had spent much of the day in a chase group bravely attempting to bridge to the leaders, was 16th.
Stedman and Tanfield got into the day’s 15-man break, which also featured Williams and Tom Stewart, of ONE Pro Cycling, Connor Swift and Jonny McEvoy, from Madison Genesis, and JLT Condor riders Gullen and Steve Lampier.
And while a small chase group almost immediately set off in pursuit, the leaders quickly opened up a gap of around five minutes on the peloton on a scorching hot day in the north east.
Gardias clipped off the front of the main bunch to join the chasers, whose ranks swelled to 15 as the race split into three distinct groups in the Northumberland countryside.
By this stage, Rory Townsend had been caught up in a crash. And while the coming together was enough to end the Spring Cup champion‘s hopes, he was not seriously hurt.
Jack Pullar was also brought down and, despite getting back in, his race was curtailed soon after, with the crash knocking the stuffing out of the peloton’s chase, too.
With one circuit remaining of the four larger loops, which featured the steep Ryals climb, Lampier attacked and quickly gapped the rest of the breakaway – with Gardias and the chasers still three minutes adrift.
The Cornishman had opened up his advantage to around 90 seconds before the remainder of the lead group put in a concerted effort to reel him in, doing so with 15km of the race remaining.
And as the race breezed back into Stamfordham, it was the turn of Lampier’s team-mate, Gullen, to have a dig off the front, riding clear with Williams as the contest entered its final kilometre.
The duo powered towards the line and, with more than 180km of racing in their legs, Williams had too much for the An Post Rás champion in the sprint, clinching victory for ONE Pro.
Williams also took victory in the sprints competition, while Adria Moreno, of Team Raleigh GAC, won the mountains prize. Click here for the full result. Photographs by Larry Hickmott, of VeloUK.net, and Chris Maher.