Richard Handley held off stiff competition from Ryan Mullen and James Gullen to take a sprint victory in the 47th Clayton Velo Spring Classic Road Race in Clitheroe, Lancashire, on Sunday.
The race presented riders with a fast course and although Handley admits that he went into it with no real expectations of winning, his plan of sitting back until halfway through worked and helped him to a the win.
The 22-year-old Rapha Condor JLT rider said: “I thought the fast track would suit some of the other riders better, riders like Matt Cronshaw, with it being quite flat.
“Things didn’t go well for me here last year so we changed the training and decided to sit back until the race started to break into bunches.
“It was a risk, but as I became more involved in the race, I decided I’d go for a sprint. Early on I was happy to let the teams with numbers control the race. I’m really pleased that the plan worked and very happy with the win.”
Having worked his way through the field, Handley found himself out front with IG Sigma Sport’s Mullen and Hope Factory’s James Gullen.
As the final corner approached, it was Mullen who made the break, pulling out a small lead from his chasers.
After Gullen halved the gap, Handley used his conserved energy to sprint past both of them to take the win by half a bike length. Mullen finished second and Gullen third.
Andy Leigh of WD40 Velocity was among the first to set off at the beginning of the race as a junior. But he managed to keep a good pace and the 17-year-old finished in fourth.
Elsewhere, another 17-year-old who impressed this weekend was Scott Gurnett of Minehead CC. In the first round of the Springtime Pursuits Series last week, he won the fourth cat race.
This week, he was in the mix for the elite race and won by nine seconds. Scott put his local knowledge to use, having used the roads of Broad Clyst for training.
The podium was completed by Oliver Pritchard of University of Exeter CC and North Devon Wheeler Harry Edney.
It was a good day for the Pedal Heaven team as they had two riders topping podiums in the Ludgershall Winter Series and the SERRL Winter Series.
Jamie Pine finished first in the final event of the SERRL Winter Series, a race which also saw five Pedal Heaven members in the top seven. The 35-year-old Surrey rider beat Kingsnorth International’s Jake Martin and Strada Sport’s Tom Fitzpatrick to the line.
Meanwhile, at the Ludgershall event in the Corunna Barracks in Wiltshire, Robert McCarthy took victory in a sprint finish.