Matt Bostock (Wiv SunGod) and Sammie Stuart (Team LDN – Brother UK) were the individual winners as the Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series hit the Essex Sunshine Coast in Clacton-on-Sea.
Round five of the series saw the familiar sight of leaders Wiv SunGod back on top of the podium in the men’s team classification, countered by a first-time victory for Team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus in the women’s series, in the evening’s second event.
That race saw Stuart storm clear after two laps, setting the fastest lap of the race on tour number three, riding away from the peloton and gesturing to the crowd to cheer on as she built a 20-second lead within six laps. Wearing the blue Freewheel.co.uk Sprints jersey (on behalf of classification leader Jo Tindley), Stuart swept all the intermediate prizes along the way.
Guisborough winner Sophie Lewis (CAMS – Basso) – back in the series for the first time after a spell on Great Britain track duty in Canada – began the counter move, leading the chase group of around a dozen riders along with Ellen McDermott (Team Boompods) and the Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes p/b Heidi Kjeldsen team, but couldn’t get the lead back into single figures.
Having trimmed the advantage to the low teens, Stuart’s fires were stoked in the closing stages increasing her lead to more than 30 seconds in a metronomic display of riding that broke the will of those behind.
“It feels unbelievable, I didn’t expect to win at Sunderland, I didn’t expect to win here. Two slightly different races – one break away with the group and then solo from quite early on tonight which I didn’t think I’d hold to be honest. I’m still in a bit of shock.
“Because it’s a technical course, just tried to go out and split the group up, a few riders went before me and then it was my turn to go, I turned back and no one had come with me. The gap then just grew, then it shortened, then it grew, then it shortened.
“I didn’t think, even with five laps to go, I had it in the bag, I kept sprinting all the way through. I looked up at 17 minutes on the clock and thought what have I done!? It was a tough session tonight, but I kept pushing till the end.”Sammie Stuart, winner in Clacton
The performance saw Stuart move to within five points of Freewheel.co.uk Sprints leader Tindley (Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes p/b Heidi Kjeldsen).
Tindley’s team hold a 10-point advantage over Team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus, with Team Boompods a further seven points in arrears, meaning that barring disaster the title looks set to be heading to Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes p/b Heidi Kjeldsen for the first time in Manchester on Tuesday (21 May).
Wiv SunGod increased their lead to five points with two rounds – Barking and Manchester – remaining, thanks to the win on the night, and TRINITY Racing placing second ahead of defending champions Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling.
Their dominance meant a clean sweep of the podium with Bostock adding the evening’s Fastest Lap to an extended lead in the Freewheel.co.uk Sprints jersey having won every sprint on the night in Clacton.
Bostock crossed the line on Marine Parade a second clear of TRINITY’s Max Walker, with Wiv SunGod teammates Matt Gibson and Jacob Scott in third and fourth for a team win made comfortable in the closing stages by a last-lap crash that split the front group.
Walker’s team-mate Sam Culverwell had looked the most likely to provide an upset – and a hat-trick of individual wins for his TRINITY team – but after being joined off the front by Charlie Tanfield (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) the pair were caught with three to go, first by Bostock and then the race of the chasers.
“The race was a bit cagey tonight, it was quite hard to split and it was quite hard to attack so it was sort of neutralised. My main focus was to make sure I got the sprints tonight because I’d lost a few points in the last few rounds and I wanted to get my sprint points back. Then after the last sprint, I just thought that I’d just ride for the individual. I think we had the team wrapped up at that point so switched my focus to just being in the right position, and brought the two back that were off the front with two laps to go. Thankfully Max Walker came round me, gave me a bit of a lead out and then I knew from the sprints how to take the last corner, and got it right.
We deserved it from how we rode, and how we’ve tried to ride in the past few rounds. It’s not really gone right, but we’ve always been brave, always taken the race on, and it was nice tonight when it all pays off.”Matt Bostock
Wiv SunGod head to Saturday’s London round with a five-point lead over Ribble Weldtite, who are their only realistic rivals with the Wales Racing Academy in third now 13 points off the pace and in a tight battle for third, with TRINITY and Saint Piran each a point apiece further back.
For full results please click here.
Highlights of the Clacton-on-Sea event will be broadcast on ITV4 at 7pm on Friday 20 May. Racing resumes on Saturday (21 May) in London with the first-ever Barking round, part of the Barking BikeFest presented by Amazon Key, a full day of celebration of cycling and sustainability with activities from 11am.
Elite racing action gets underway with the men’s race (5.30pm) followed by the women’s race (7.30pm), for which the winner will be presented with the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup – honouring the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough.
Both events streamed will live on the Tour’s YouTube channel – youtube.com/thetourcycling – and Facebook page with no geo-restrictions.