Last week’s National Road Championships were full of eye-catching performances. Pfeiffer Georgi’s road race win felt like a real coming-of-age performance, Anna Henderson took an imperious win in the time trial, while first-year U23 Josie Nelson looked accomplished beyond her years throughout. There were many more individual stories of excellence like this.
Here, however, we pick out five lesser-celebrated breakthrough performances from the women’s domestic peloton.
Robyn Clay (Otley CC)
Results: 7th, circuit race
Junior rider Robyn Clay had only just turned 18 when she lined up at the National Circuit Race in Lincoln. She’d already had an excellent season before then. Not long after the delayed season had begun she was 8th overall at the Junior Tour of Yorkshire. Then a stage win and 6th overall at the Junior Tour of the Mendip in August confirmed her status as a very promising young talent. An impressive 3rd place at The Wolds GP at the beginning of October against some top elite riders further hinted at her strength.
Nonetheless, 7th in the National Circuit Race Championships against the country’s finest criterium riders in a high-pressure race in front of large crowds has to be considered a real breakthrough ride. We’re looking forward to keeping tabs on her development as she hits the elite ranks next season.
Danielle Shrosbree (Team LDN – Brother UK)
Results: 8th, road race; circuit race, DNF
Danielle Shroshree can look back on her 2021 season with great satisfaction. A stage win at the Volta a Portugal Feminina Cofidis, 4th overall at the Rás Na mBan, and 8th at the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix were amongst a raft of top results. In our view, though, none were as impressive as he accomplished ride in the national road race.
She was one of only two elite-level riders in the high-quality select group of 12 that battled it out for the win (the other being National Circuit Race winner Jo Tindley from Pro-Noctis – Redchilli Bikes – Heidi Kjeldsen. Up against Georgi, Henderson, Barnes, Lowden, and co., she didn’t look out of place at all as we watched her climb assuredly up Michaelgate each lap. From what we can tell, she only began racing at the back of 2017 and this season is the first that she’s had a full season of racing. Remarkable.
Lucy Gadd (Storey Racing)
Results: 5th, U23 time trial; 9th, circuit race; DNF, road race
This is Lucy Gadd’s third year in Storey Racing colours. She was exposed to high-level racing as a junior back in 2019 when she raced the ASDA Tour de Yorkshire during what was a solid season of racing. This year, training and racing while studying for a psychology degree, she seems to have really come into her own, finishing in the top 20 of all three National Road Series events.
Her results at the National Road Championships feel like a real leap in her evolution as a rider, however. She was 5th in the U23 time trial, with only three professionals – Anna Shackley, Pfeiffer Georgi and Abi Smith – and the highly-talented April Tacey beating her. And then put in an excellent display in the National Circuit Race Championships, pulling off an aggressive ride that saw her on the attack in the closing stages, eventually finishing 9th.
Pro-Noctis – Redchilli Bikes – Heidi Kjeldsen
Best results: 10th, elite time trial (Charliiy Berry); 1st, circuit race (Jo Tindley); 9th, road race (Jo Tindley)
In many ways, Rick Lister’s Pro-Noctis – Redchilli Bikes – Heidi Kjeldsen team couldn’t have been more fired up for these National Road Championships. A team established just this year, riding in front of home crowds, the squad would have been eager to impress their sponsors and make their mark in front of their first live televised audience.
They had already shown their strength this season. They came close to winning the Tour Series this year and then followed that by taking the team standings at the HSBC UK | National Road Series. At the National Road Championships, they went even better, putting on a masterclass in teamwork in the National Circuit Race with Jo Tindley taking a brilliant solo win while her teammates acting as the perfect foils for her in the chasing bunch. Young Corinne Side took third on the night too. They might ‘only’ be an elite team, but combine the National Circuit Race display with top tens in both the elite time trial and road race and it’s fair to say that Pro-Noctis – Redchilli Bikes – Heidi Kjeldsen punched well above their weight at the nationals.
Daisy Barnes (Brother U.K – Cycle Team OnForm)
Results: 15th, road race (6th best U23); DNF, circuit race; 14th U23 time trial
Brother UK – Cycle Team OnForm’s Daisy Barnes is in her third year as an under-23 rider and has built up a solid – if not spectacular – set of results so far. This season she was a regular in the Tour Series and the National Road Series. And earlier this month she won The Wallace Monument Hill Climb.
Nothing, so far, however, has come close to her performance last weekend. 14th place in the U23 time trial was solid enough, but to finish 15th in the road race in grim conditions was a sterling performance. She was the 6th best U23 too, with only more established U23 prospects above her – Georgi, Nelson, Shackley, Wright and Tacey are already well-known as some of the brightest British prospects and all ride for Women’s WorldTour teams or strong Continental outfits. We’ll be keeping a close eye on her results when road racing returns in 2022.