It was back up to Stockton-on-Tees in the north-east of England for round seven of the National Road Series on 14th July.
The Stockton GP was also the 11th of 14 qualification events for the forthcoming 2019 Tour of Britain.
The 176km route started on the Tees riverside and headed north for ten laps of a 13.5km rolling countryside circuit before returning back into town for six laps of a 6.5km flatter but more technical riverside circuit.
The Stockton GP is where the Canyon Eisberg team narrowly secured their qualification for the 2018 Tour of Britain when Andy Tennant finished in 7th place in a race that usually comes down to a large bunch sprint.
2016 was an exception when the event also acted as the British National Championship where Adam Blythe (Tinkoff) narrowly out-sprinted Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) from an 11-man group in a race that had been decimated by the sheer pace and which only 24 riders completed.
Tennant was making his comeback after recovering from a hand injury suffered at the Aberdeen Tour Series race and was joined by a team selected in consideration of the event parcours and likely outcome.
Belgians Alex Colman and Stijn de Bock were making rare appearances in the UK for the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team alongside Matt Bostock, Louis Rose-Davies, Charles Page, Jacob Vaughan and Ollie Wood.
The first hour consisted of the usual flurry of attempted breakaways with a group of 12 riders, then another with seven riders, getting away to establish a powerful looking group of 19 that included two or three representatives from each of the UCI Continental teams, apart from Madison Genesis who had National Road Series individual leader Matt Holmes as their sole representative.
Alex Colman and Ollie Wood were in the mix for Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes, so the team was ably equipped if this group should get to the line intact.
This left the remaining seven riders from Madison Genesis heading up the pursuing peloton as with only a single representative in the break, they were in the weakest position.
Halfway through the ten countryside laps the group of 19 split into a lead group of 10 with the other nine falling back to the peloton which was now three minutes adrift.
Two laps later recent British National Championships double-medallist, John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling) took off alone and rapidly established a significant lead over the chasing group of nine that was slowly being reeled-in by the pursuing peloton.
Archibald started the riverside circuits with a lead close to four minutes though this was gradually being reduced by the chasing group and peloton.
As the peloton caught the chase group it was initially Team Wiggins Le Col and Vitus Pro Cycling who drove the pursuit of Archibald.
With just a lap to go it was in the balance as to whether Archibald would hold off the chasing teams as they fought to get their fast-men into position in anticipation of the final sprint to glory. However, Archibald denied them all and clung on for an outstanding solo victory.
Unfortunately Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes sprint train was weakened after Wood punctured shortly after arriving on the riverside circuit and he was unable to regain position on the last lap.
However, after three convincing sprint wins in the last three National Circuit Series races it was Bostock who took on the responsibility and headed the bunch to take second place with Tom Pidcock (Wiggins) in third.
Andy Tennant had an encouraging return to the peloton coming across the line in 10th place, with Wood recovering to complete the three team points scorers in 11th place.
In an interview with Larry Hickmott of VeloUK after the race, Bostock reflected…
“It was a bit of a tough one. It was a headwind but it’s slightly downhill so you are in two minds whether to go early or late.
I was working for Ollie (Wood) and trying to find him, but I couldn’t find him just up this back-straight, so I thought I better go for it myself…I think I was about third wheel or so with about 300 (metres) to go and I wasn’t sure when to go.
I turned around and it was all fanned out so I thought I better go now then…John is really strong and fair play to him and all credit for his ride.”
Bostock’s second place ensured that with three qualification races still to go, the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team could finish no lower than second in the Tour of Britain qualification standings and with four teams to qualify, their participation in the prestigious race has been secured.
In addition the team stretched their overall lead in the National Road Series team standings to 132 points over Madison Genesis with SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling just six further points adrift in third place. Rory Townsend remains in third place in the individual standings.
The next ten days will focus back on the National Circuit Series where Bostock has a commanding lead having won all three races so far, and the British Circuit Championships that will be held in Rochester on Sunday, 21st July.
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman.
Photo credits – VeloUK