Two wins in a row for Johnston as she takes the series lead

Truelove takes the win in a bunch finish whilst Beresford wraps up the overall with one round to spare

It took until Round Six last week for Avid Sport’s Lauren Johnston to open her account for 2019 but she followed it up immediately in supreme style taking another win and the overall series lead from Storey Racing’s Lucy Gadd with it to boot. Johnston prised open a gap to the main pack with a third of the race to go and despite a committed chase from Radeon-Cycology’s Maria Powell there was no denying last winter’s overall winner.

With a gentle crosswind blowing across Odd Down, the races throughout the day hung in the balance with plenty of potential for splits, but those wishing to create those gaps would have to make the effort just right to be successful. Powell had driven an early pace to shed the group down to a selection of seven, and then Johnston’s initial moves were covered by the Hargroves-Montezuma’s pairing of Amy Perryman and Freya Richardson. Richardson was also looking to get away, but Powell was working to ensure that any escape only had a short leash.

When what proved to be the winning move came, Johnston was forced by Powell to persevere with only a five second lead for over a lap before the elastic finally began to stretch and she was away. By the finish Johnston had over a minute’s gap, with Hester Stembridge (University of Bristol CC) using her sharp sprint and fresh legs to take second ahead of Richardson and Emily Slavin (Avid Sport) who had chased on having missed the initial group of seven riders.

The win takes Johnston past Gadd into the 2nd cat series lead, with Lucy Monk (Exeter Wheelers) nearly cementing her podium place overall with a seventh place finish. Stembridge’s second place means she is putting together quite a late charge for a podium spot in the 3rd cat standings. Powell cannot catch Becky Evans (PDQ Cycle Coaching) who wraps up the overall, but she does have a 21 point lead on Slavin in the battle for second. Slavin climbed past Olive Holliday (Velovitesse-Allcap) into third place overall with Stembridge now in 5th place overall. The 4th cat women’s standings will go down to the wire, with the top three riders covered by only six points. Joanna Goodhead (Avid Sport) has climbed into second spot, three points ahead of Lucy Collins and now only three points behind series leader Rosie Lyon-Smith (University of Bristol CC).

The men’s 2/3 race was constantly on the verge of ripping apart throughout, with a fierce pace being driven into the crosswind on the finish straight lap after lap, but despite the efforts of a number of riders including series leader Oliver Beresford (VC Venta), Chris Parker (VC St Raphael), Andy Edwards (Bikestrong-KTM) and Brian Glynn (Oldfield Old Boys) the rest of the pack held firm to bring the race to a bunch sprint.

The pace was held at a ferocious speed going into the final lap as the wind continued to tease open gaps in the bunch, and a front group of five managed to secure a slim lead over the strung-out bunch going into the final bend. It was front this front group that William Truelove (Abergavenny CC) powered clear to take a convincing win. Truelove had himself been amongst the riders to try probing moves earlier in the race, but that did not dampen his snap in the finish as he crossed the line over five bike lengths clear of Stuart LeTissier (DHCyclesport CC) in second. Dan Byrne (Black Line) was a further couple of bike lengths back in third with George Fowler (NoPinz Symec Development Team) and Beresford completing the top five.

The fifth place for Beresford confirms his overall win in the men’s 2nd cat standings, with his nearest overall challenger Will Page (Primera-TeamJobs) absent this week. Joe Peatson (Bikestrong-KTM) climbs onto the second cat podium with 6th place. Truelove’s win puts him straight in at fifth place in the 3rd cat standings behind the Bath CC pairing of Elliot Barratt and Rob Pears who could not eat into the lead of Liam James-Morris (Team Backstedt/HotChillee) ad Iwan Evans (The Bulls). Nick Livermore (Bristol South) made a convincing step up from 4th cat to take 7th place in the 2/3 race and take the lead outright the 4th cat overall standings ahead of Mike Beech (Matlock CC) who could only finish 15th. Tom Holden’s win in the 4th cat race puts him in the mix to challenge the top two overall in the 4th cat standings, but he will have to do so by taking a big result in the 2/3 race at the final round as he now moves up to join Livermore and Beech.