All images ©www.chrismaher.co.uk
Round Five of the Women’s Road Series returned to Northumberland for the third edition of the Curlew Cup. Won initially by Dame Sarah Storey in 2012, then Hannah Barnes in 2013, it follows the course of the Men’s Beaumont Trophy, but usually only on the smaller of the two circuits of Thirteen miles.
This year the Women’s event incorporates one of the larger twenty-two mile circuits that take’s in the double stepped Ryals climb on the last of the four circuits. If the race reaches here in a group, then it’s surely going to be the key point in the race. After the climb, it’s then a flat final run of around four miles to the finish line in Stamfordham.
A sunny 9.15am start for the girls in Stamfordham. Only forty or so riders took to the start line (out of seventy-six registered).
Series Leader Nicola Juniper (Team Echelon) and her closest rival Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International) were the focus for the day. No Wiggle Honda ladies present in this round, but still plenty of quality riders from Matrix Fitness Vulpine, Epic Cycles Scott WRT and Velosport Pasta Montegrappa to name but a few.
Team Jadan continue their development with Sam Thoy and Annabel Sill riding the course and the National Series for the first time.
A neutralised first climb out of Stamfordham, saw the girls safely away. Sat on the back where Pearl Izumi’s Katie Archibald & Dame Sarah Storey.
Forty minutes later the group returned and were still all intact. Archibald and (Charline) Joiner headed the group, and series leader Nicola Juniper close at hand.
It was clear that Juniper’s objective was to mark any moves by Archibald, whose Pearl Izumi team mates including Joiner (returning to road racing for the first time since her training accident in Spain), were going to make it hard and use their numbers to control the race. Joiner took the first prime of the race.
On the third climb out of Stamfordham, Epic Cycles started to make a move but nothing really came of it. Joiner once again took the prime.
On the final small lap out of Stamfordham, it was Velosport Pasta Monegrappa’s turn to escape from the group and try and form a working group. But once again they were brought back together. Joiner took the final prime in the race.
Around the backside of the course as the pace increased, the field then began to split, and coming back into Stamfordham for the final large Ryals lap, the group had split in half with smaller pockets of riders trailing behind. This was where the race began to form.
With the main contenders all in the leading group, now down to about twenty, Pearl Izumi began to take control.
As the Ryals approached, the field were reduced further, to around eight riders.
It was Dame Helen Storey that cranked the pace to full gas, for the last run into Stamfordham. This left team-mate and GC contender Archibald a clear path to sprint for the finish line.
Series leader Juniper wasn’t going to let her get away easily and followed her in to a close second. Third on the day went to Matrix Fitness Vulpine’s Jessie Walker, just ahead of both Gemma Neill and Gabby Shaw.
Things nearly went horribly wrong for Series Leader Nicola Juniper who’s car broke-down on route, and left her One-Hundred and Fifty miles short of where she wanted to be!
I spoke to Nicola after the race and asked her about her thoughts on the season so far.
She had won the first Series race, the Alexandra Tour of the Reservoir in a two girl sprint, up to the finish line, against Alexi Shaw (Epic Cycles Scott WRT), she had come fourth, in round two; the Cheshire Classic with another climb to the finish.
She spoke about being pleased that she still had the lead. She had done her homework and knew that there was a two point difference between first and second positions, so her objective was to mark her closest rival (Archibald) today. It’s no secret that the Pearl Izumi girls and the Wiggle Honda girls want to use their team tactics to take the overall series, Nicola said they would have to work for it, if that’s what they wanted to do. She was going to chip away at the remaining rounds, but wouldn’t be disappointed if one on the younger girls took away the lead.
She has great admiration for both Katie and Laura, her closest rivals. They’re both “World Class” athletes she pointed out, “They both ride the track, and the road”. “I’m getting older,” she laughed. “As long as I’m riding my bike, I’m quite happy”. And when talking to the other girls about racing, they all show the same passion.
Nicola told me her objectives this year were to do a ten, and a twenty (Time Trial, that is), and the Nocturne that she won a week or so ago! So has good reason to be ‘quite happy’ with things at the moment.
Nicola is down to ride the Otley GP on Wednesday 2nd July for round six. It looks like she will be up against Laura Trott who’s lying third so far, no Katie Archibald on the entry list yet.
There are another five rounds to go in the series, a couple of two-days and a couple of circuit races. The next race in the North here, is the Ryedale GP out of Ampleforth, North Yorkshire, on Sunday 20th July. It includes the National Junior Women’s Road Race Championships.
Nicola Juniper retains her lead in the Women’s Road Race Series after round five, but Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International’s Katie Archibald is closing-in, in second place. Wiggle Honda’s Laura Trott remains in third place.
1 Katie Archibald 2:24.35 – Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
2 Nicola Juniper 0.01 – Team Echelon
3 Jessie Walker 0.01 – Matrix Fitness Vulpine
4 Gemma Neill 0.01 – Un-attached
5 Gabby Shaw 0.01 – Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
6 Alexi Shaw 0.01 – Epic Cylcles Scott WRT
7 Rebecca Rimmington 0.03 – Merlin Cycles
8 Julie Erskine 0.03 – Velosport
9 Anna Ewing 0.03 – VW Breda
10 Jane Barr 0.03 – Velocity
11 Anna Christian 0.04 – WyndyMilla Reynolds
12 Chloe Frazer 0.04 – Deeside Thistle
13 Emma Grant 0.05 – Tibco
14 Lucy Coldwell 0.05 – Velosport
15 Dame Sarah Storey 0.12 – Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
16 Hannah Walker 0.52 – Epic Cycles Scott WRT
17 Lauren Creamer 0.52 – Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
18 Elizabeth Holden 0.53 – RST Racing Team
19 Charline Joiner 0.53 – Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
20 Eve Dixon 0.53 – Team 22
35 Sam Thoy 15.21 – Team Jadan
36 Annabel Sill 15.21 – Team Jadan
Prime Charline JoinerPearl Izumi Sports Tours International
Ave Speed 32.476 Kph
Women’s Road Race Standings after Round Five
1 Nicola Juniper – 139 – Team Echelon
2 Katie Archibald – 135 – Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International
3 Laura Trott – 101 – Wiggle Honda
4 Gabriella Shaw – 80 – Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International
5 Danielle King – 64 – Wiggle Honda
6 Grace Garner – 58 – RST Racing Team
7 Elinor Barker – 55 – Wiggle Honda
8 Lydia Boylan – 50 – Velosport – Pasta Montegrappa
9 Alexie Shaw – 49 – Epic Cycles – Scott WRT
10 Abigail Dentus – 42 – Team de Ver
11 Molly Weaver – 40 – Epic Cycles – Scott WRT
11 Lowri Devey – 40 – Abergavenny RC
13 Megan Barker – 37 – M&D Cycles/Scimitar Sports/Fusion Sports RT
14 Jessie Walker – 36 – Matrix Fitness – Vulpine
15 Jo Tindley – 33 – Matrix Fitness – Vulpine
16 Amy Roberts – 31 – Wiggle Honda
16 Chloe Frazer – 31 – Deeside Thistle
18 Hannah Walker – 29 – Epic Cycles – Scott WRT
19 Hayley Jones – 28 – Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International
19 Harriet Owen – 28 – Matrix Fitness – Vulpine
19 Rebecca Womersley – 28 – WyndyMilla – Reynolds
19 Anna Christian – 28 – Epic Cycles – Scott WRT
Results by British Cycling
Women’s Road Race Standings TBC
The next round of the Women’s Road Race Series is the Otley GP on Wednesday 2nd July.