Soloists show the way as Johnston, Pears and Clayton break away
Lauren Johnston and Rob Pears started the Odd Down Winter Series with a bang in two dominant breakaway performances to take the victory in Round One. Both Johnston and Pears came in solo having dispatched the rest of the field with attacks that the other riders had no answer to.
Having taken the early sprint Prime, Johnston waited until a breakaway from Amy Dunwell to launch her move she bridged across to the BCR rider and then continued to power ahead pursued by Freya Richardson. Dunwell was unable to grab the wheels of the other pair and so a lead group of two emerged with the rest of the bunch chasing behind. After working with the junior rider for several laps, Johnston finally dispatched her companion with five laps remaining to come home and take the win. Richardson was well clear for second and Dunwell was rewarded for her earlier attacks by taking the bunch sprint for third.
Whilst Johnson waited to make her move, Pears was able to get away much earlier and put his time trialling ability on show. With Adam Robinson having gone off the front in the early laps to take the Prime it wasn’t long after the Uni of Bath CC rider’s recapture that Pears was allowed a small gap. With a rider who has the pedigree against the clock of Pears you cannot afford to give them much space and very quickly it was apparent that without a well coordinated chase behind it was going to be a victory for the Bath CC man. Such a pursuit never materialised and so it was only a matter of how large Pears’s lead would be by the finish as lap by lap he extended his advantage.
Conor McGoldrick was the only other rider to escape the surge-stop racing in the pack but this only took more impetus out of the pursuit of Pears with his teammate Robertson now no longer working. McGoldrick was re-integrated into the main pack and so it would come down to a sprint for second behind the distant leader. The situation was ideal for sprinter Dan Byrne who mopped up the bunch kick ahead of young rider James Ashcroft who has been very active in the early attacks.
The women’s fourth category race was a first ever victory for Keisha Michael. Michael and Nicole Corin rode clear of Sarah Crowther at the sprint Prime and then collaborated to ensure that the sprint for the victory would be between the pair of them. Michael had been on top at the sprint early in the race and repeated the trick at the finish to take the win.
The men’s 4th cat race saw another impressive solo ride as Matthew Clayton stormed away to win by a handsome margin. He was initially clear with Daniel Crees and not long after allowing the prime to go uncontested Clayton showed a clean pair of wheels to his companion and was away facing nearly half an hour against the wind. He never looked in trouble and as the bunch whittled down behind him Jacob Vink managed to slip away with three laps to go and just hold of the sprinters for second ahead of Michael Taylor who was the first finisher from the pack.