Following a week’s break for the British Championships in Norwich, the focus was back on the National Road Series with round six , the Beaumont Trophy, taking place on the rolling farmland around Stamfordham in Northumberland on 7th July.
The race of 187km consisted of six laps, the first and last laps being on an undulating circuit of 23.5km, with the four laps in-between being on a longer 35km circuit which included the challenging climb of the Ryals.
The Ryals consists of three consecutive steep ramps separated by flat and slightly downhill relief points between them. With an elevation gain of just over 100 vertical metres, it is a favourite place to launch an attack often resulting in riders being shelled out of the back of the peloton.
The Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team for Beaumont were Matt Bostock, Callum Macleod, Dan Pearson, Alex Richardson, Max Stedman, Tom Stewart, Rory Townsend and Jacob Vaughan, which gave them options depending on how the race would unfold.
The race started with the usual flurry of attacks until a group of four determined riders: Thomas Mein (Tarteletto-Isorex), Isaac Mundy (Richardsons-Trek), Jordan Peacock (Spirit Tifosi) and Rob Scott (Team Wiggins Le Col) made their break count on the first of the longer Ryals circuits.
The gap rose to about two and a half minutes at one point and despite Peacock dropping away, the other three riders managed to keep the peloton at bay until after the fourth and final climb up the Ryals.
In the meantime there was high drama out in the country lanes which caused some rather emotional responses. The source of the drama was a giant tractor and equally large hay trailer trundling towards the oncoming peloton.
It had got onto the course from a field after the leading cars, motorcycles and the four-man breakaway had already passed by.
To avert a potential disaster, two mobile marshalls stopped the tractor and parked their motorcycles in front of it to alert the approaching peloton to the hazard.
About 30 riders, including at least five from Madison Genesis who had been making an aggressive pace and trying to split the peloton, two from Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes and representatives from all the other UCI Continental teams carried on regardless squeezing past between the tractor and the flanking hedgerows.
The remaining 70 or 80 riders stopped at the warning marshalls and tractor, and let the race commissaires decide how to deal with the obstacle. Meanwhile the 30-rider group which had squeezed past the tractor rode onwards at pace to force home the advantage they perceived they had gained.
A decision was made to neutralise the race and to restart with the gap from the four-man breakaway reset to what it was before the tractor incident. Unfortunately it took some time to get the message to the 30-man fugitive group as they had ridden for another 10km before being black-flagged and brought to a halt. The outcome appeared to be that most of the Madison Genesis riders had ridden themselves to exhaustion as only Matt Holmes was notably active after the restart.
However, there were at least three riders from other teams who had been in the same 30-man group who eventually finished in the final top 10 including Dan Bigham (Ribble Pro Cycling), Macleod (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes) and Tom Pidcock (Team Wiggins Le Col).
All-in-all the incident, and the timing of the incident, took the steam out of what could have developed into another battle royal between the two leading protagonist teams of the season.
The race slipped into a status quo until it was dramatically brought back into life, first by a solo attempt from Holmes to bridge across to the breakaway, then by Stedman and Pearson ratcheting up the pace of the peloton on the final ramp of the last climb up the Ryals with James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) also exploding into action. As a result, the breakaway was subsumed back into the peloton.
Attacks on the finishing circuit resulted in seven riders establishing a 30 second advantage: John Archibald and Dan Bigham (Ribble Pro Cycling), Mark Christian (Team Wiggins Le Col), Damien Clayton (Andy Moore Autocentres Racing), Peter Williams (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) along with Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes riders, Macleod and Townsend.
In the final kilometres Bigham drove the pace onwards but he was outgunned after another powerful sprinting display by Townsend who took the victory with Williams in second and Clayton in third.
In an interview with Larry Hickmott of VeloUK after the race, Townsend enthused:
“Three out of four! I am absolutely loving the series. It really suits me the way we race these things where often the race will go on a climb, and because I can usually haul myself up a climb well enough, I tend to find myself in a decent position. A reduced bunch sprint is the dream scenario for me.”
Macleod had another outstanding day in his fledgling senior career and took 5th place and the Under 23 award along with it.
Bostock took 15th place which gave the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes the team win on the day and extended their overall team lead in the National Road Series to 96 points over Madison Genesis with SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling a further 16 points adrift in 3rd place.
Townsend’s win puts him in third place in the National Road Series individual rankings and also extended Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes lead in the Tour of Britain qualification standings.
Another super day for the team!
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman
Images 1-4,6,7 – Paul Stedman
Image 5 – SWpix.com