Sunday’s road races may have been dominated by WorldTour riders, but over the course of the championships, there were a number of standout performances from riders not signed to UCI teams.
With a TV audience and the whole of the sport watching, who stood out from the three days of racing in Redcar and Cleveland in pursuit of a professional contract?
Featured image: Emma Wilcock/The British Continental
Frankie Hall (Loughborough Lightning)
Consistency was the key for the BUCS and East Midlands road race champion, finishing 19th in the time trial, 21st in the circuit race and 24th in the road race. Hall caught the eye in both the circuit and road race, stringing out the bunch in the early stages with a powerful display at the head of affairs.
Hall’s main aim for the championships was Sunday’s road race, using the other two events as preparation. Her circuit race form was a mystery to her given the lack of National A criteriums in the build-up; Hall pleased to be able to race at the front and keep out of danger.
In the opening laps of Sunday’s road race, Hall again sat towards the front of proceedings, using positioning to play to her strengths.
“I knew it was going to be a race of attrition and wanted to be the right side of any splits. I backed myself to stay near the front up the climbs and save energy expenditure on the technical descents, which are a strength of mine.” She said of her tactics.
Hall did eventually fall the wrong side of a split and after blowing up attacking the final ascent of Saltburn Bank was disappointed to miss out on the top 20. However, the Loughborough native knows she is heading in the right direction and makes no attempt to disguise her longing for a chance on a UCI team.
I know I’ve still got a lot of progress to make, I’ve developed physically, now I need to learn to race to match that levelFrankie Hall, Loughborough Lightning
“I know I’ve still got a lot of progress to make, I’ve developed physically, now I need to learn to race to match that level. It’s where I want to go and what I want to do, I’m fully committing to riding my bike.”
Conor McGoldrick (Richardsons-Trek DAS)
The subject of our feature interview last week, the Londoner rode the big road race his results suggested he could. Joining an elite breakaway with the likes of Q36.5’s Mark Donovan long after the race had been blown to pieces, it looked for a time that McGoldrick posed a genuine threat to take the jersey for an Elite Development Team.
I was quite surprised to find myself at the front of the race two hours in with only one other non-pro riderConor McGoldrick, Richardsons-Trek DAS
“It definitely was not the plan to attack!” said McGoldrick on Monday. “We were expecting the race to be very attritional, but nowhere near as challenging as it turned out to be. I was quite surprised to find myself at the front of the race two hours in with only one other non-pro rider.
“For sure I was a bit surprised by my performance! It’s not every day you get to race with the likes of WorldTour riders, but it’s the ride I’ve known I’ve had in me for a while now.”
Although the day ultimately ended in a DNF for McGoldrick, his ride certainly caught the eye and he admits he can’t wait for the next block of racing with the confidence his ride has given him.
Ollie Wood (Unattached)
The Great Britain track rider has been in a rich vein of form lately, beating James McKay to the combined North West / Yorkshire Road Race title two weeks before his stunning National Circuit Race victory. Memories of Jo Tindley’s epic solo victory from Lincoln echoed onto the damp Redcar seafront as Wood went solo for 40 minutes, rarely holding a gap of more than 20 seconds. Proving his tactical nouse, the former AT85 Rider didn’t fully commit until the final five minutes, convinced someone would bridge across the gap eventually.
“The final five laps I realised I’ve got enough left in the tank; however hard they’re going behind I can hold whatever gap I’ve got” explained Wood, speaking to The British Continental’s Joe Hudson post-race.
The European scratch race champion remarkablly finds himself without a team of any sort midway through the year, although surely the offers will begin to roll in with a blank British champion’s jersey adorning his shoulders for the forthcoming National Circuit Series.
Thomas Armstrong and Tim Shoreman (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli)
Wheelbase CabTech Castelli has produced some of the best riders in the country over the past 15 years and the National Road Championships only confirmed the promise of more talent in Toby Dalton’s squad.
Thomas Armstrong was resplendent in the team’s fluorescent jersey, sitting in the leading group for much for much of Sunday’s road race, joining team alumnus Mark Donovan at the head of affairs. The pure climber had spent the past two years on the Colombian Electro Hiper Europa-Caldas team, and demonstrated he is worthy of a return to UCI Continental level with a 15th place finish, the best of the riders not attached to a UCI team.
Aberdeenshire’s Tim Shoreman started out as a cross-country mountain biker and the 23-year-old used his bike handling skills to full effect in a messy sprint to claim 3rd place in the circuit race, beaten only by criterium royalty Matthew Bostock in the gallop to the line.
Unknown to many, Shoreman has made steady progress over the last couple of years, putting together a series of strong results in National B races, including a victory in the Coronation Crits in Scotland as well as an eye-catching 14th at the Lincoln GP and 17th at the rain-soaked Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic, finishing in the leading group.
The result took Shoreman by surprise as he entered the race without a plan, finding himself towards to front of the bunch to keep out of trouble. The Scot could be one to watch in the forthcoming National Circuit Series as he looks to build on this career-defining result.
Cat Ferguson (Shibden Hope Tech Apex)
With the increasing trend for WorldTour teams to sign young riders straight out of the junior class, it should be a case of when, not if, the 17-year-old pens a professional contract. 6th in the Lincoln GP back in May, Ferguson stepped onto the podium in the circuit race, unable to pip Megan Barker to the line in the sprint claiming a fine silver medal after avoiding the major crash earlier in proceedings.
A serial winner, The British Continental spoke to Ferguson back in March following a head-turning victory in the Capernwray road race. Since then the first-year junior was victorious in the junior Tour of Flanders, second at Gent-Wevelgem and now heads to the Junior National Road Race Championships next week as a major favourite.
Megan Barker (Team Inspired)
After three seasons with the CAMS-Basso squad (now DAS-Handsling Bikes) the 25-year-old track star found herself without a UCI Continental team this season, but demonstrated she would still be an asset on any team on Friday with a victory from the front of the circuit race.
I was kind of having to mark everything, some teams had seven riders so it was tough to controlMeg Barker
Barker was in the thick of the action throughout the hour-long affair. She told Joe Hudson after the race “I was kind of having to mark everything, some teams had seven riders so it was tough to control.
“[After the race restart] it all bunched up a little bit and got nervy and I had five laps at the back. I thought ‘pull yourself together’ and it took me pretty much four laps to get to the front and then there was one lap to go.”
Launching a ferocious sprint from the front of the bunch, Barker looked to have the finish under control even as Cat Ferguson pulled alongside her in the closing stages, commenting, “I went a little bit early, I kind of panicked but I just about held on.”
Track commitments could prevent Barker from showing off the jersey too many times in the coming weeks, but the victory will have reminded many team bosses what a valuable asset a top-tier track rider can be.
Huw Buck Jones (Wales Racing Academy)
The 19-year-old demonstrated his potential with a fine 16th in the men’s road race as a first-year under-23. Coupled with his 10th in the circuit race, it was an impressive weekend for the versatile rider who has been a consistent top ten finisher in National B races this year, as well as racing for Great Britain in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
It continues an impressive season for the young Welshman. On the road, Buck Jones was 4th at the challenging Peaks 2-Day, was 5th at the Oakenclough road race, and also picked up two top fives in Belgian kermesses last month. And in MTB, he also has a podium and a top ten in the British Cycling 2023 National Cross Country Series to his name this season.
Emily Proud (Le Col Race Team) took the circuit race by the scruff off the neck in the closing stages, visible on the front of the bunch almost constantly before sprinting to 7th; a good result for a rider showing considerable improvement in only her third season.
Lizi Brooke and Frances Owen (Wahoo-Le Col) made their road race debuts ones to remember with fine 14th and 17th places, respectively. The pair only started road racing last year, with Brooke bringing 15 years of personal training and a year of pro triathlon experience to the sport, while Owen took up cycling during the Covid-19 lockdown, cutting her teeth using Zwift, before posting a number of impressive performances across a variety of CTT events. Given the rapid rise through the ranks the pair have experienced, it would be no surprise to see them racing at a higher level next year.
Michael Gill (Huub-Wattshop) may have left Saint Piran last year, but the specialist tester proved his power with a strong ride for 8th in the Men’s Time Trial. The flat, wide course suited Gill as he got the better of Ollie Peckover (trainSharp Elite), his long-time sparring partner, as well as a host of riders on UCI teams.
In the women’s TT Anna Morris (WardPerformanceUK.com) stunned the WorldTour elite by riding to a superb silver medal. The Great Britain pursuit rider was a latecomer to the sport, picking up cycling at university to aid her triathlon and hasn’t looked back since. There has been a steady improvement over the past few seasons for the TT specialist, and her skills against the clock must have turned some heads in the sport’s higher echelons like many British riders before her.