The country’s top UK-based espoirs were blessed with fine spring weather for the Yorkshire Under-23 Classic on Easter Sunday in Upper Denby, West Yorkshire, the first round of the Under-23 Men’s National Road Series.
As predicted by the team managers beforehand, the racing was open and aggressive from the start, with the formulation of the breakaway riders constantly changing throughout the first hour of the race. James Harrison (Manx Viking Wheelers), Josh Price (Spirit BSS) and Tom Mitchell (trainSharp) were the first men to break clear, leading the bunch after the first of nine laps of the 13.2 km circuit.
By lap 4, the break had swelled to eight. Mitchell had dropped back, while Harrison and Price were joined by James Hartley (Cycling Sheffield), Jamieson Blain (Embark-Bikestrong), Samuel Clark (trainSharp Development Team), Thomas Lowther, Matthew Ellis (both SRCT Muc-Off), and Price’s teammate Farley Barber. Their advantage yo-yoed as WiV SunGod riders Toby Barnes and Josh Whitehead lead the chase behind. By lap 6, however, the gap had gone out to one and a half minutes as WiV SunGod paused their pursuit.
The breakaway still had a 40-second advantage as they took the bell to signal the last lap of racing. It was at this moment that Samuel Clark pressed on, gapping his breakaway companions and escaping alone. The breakaway was shattered in the melee, with many being caught by the splintering bunch on the final lap.
Toby Barnes managed to escape with Jack Rootkin-Gray (Team Inspired) but a crash for the latter slowed Barnes’ advance. Nonetheless, he caught all but Clark who managed to hold on for a classy solo victory. Barnes came in alone to claim second place, while Farley Barber pipped Jameson Blain as they sprinted it out for third. The rest of the top ten came from the fractured bunch.
After the finish, Clark, a relative outsider for the win today, told us how he played it.
“Last time up here, I pressed on, looked round, and had a bit of a gap. So I just carried on going and tried to hold on,” he said. He told us the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix on 8 May will be his next race and that he will “definitely” be back to defend his Series lead at the next round, which takes place in the Central Region on 5 June.
One thing seems certain, the 21-year-old won’t be underestimated the next time he takes to the start line.
|1||Samuel||Clark||trainSharp Development Team||02:52.4|
|2||Toby||Barnes||WiV SunGod||+ 21′|
|3||Farley||Barber||Spirit BSS||+ 34′|
|5||James||Harrison||Manx Viking Wheelers||+ 47′|
|6||Logan||Maclean||Wheelbase Cabtech||+ 49′|
|8||Edward||Morgan||Wales Racing Academy||+ 50′|
|10||Callum||Thornley||Wheelbase Cabtech||+ 56′|
|13||James||Ashcroft||Stolen Goat RT||st|
|18||Matthew||Houlberg||Meudon Pedal Heaven||st|
|23||Jacques||Coates||Team PB Performance||st|
|31||Adam||Mitchell||Cycling Sheffield||+ 1’38”|
|34||Joshua||Price||Spirit BSS||+ 2’52”|
|40||Matt||Fox||Wheelbase Cabtech||+ 9’10”|
|41||Liam||James-Morris||Wales Racing Academy||st|
|1||Samuel||Clark||trainSharp Development Team||30|
|5||James||Harrison||Manx Viking Wheelers||22|
|8||Edward||Morgan||Wales Racing Academy||16|
|18||Matthew||Houlberg||Meudon Pedal Heaven||3|