Theo, Elliot, Sam and George took to the start line for the first time this year. The Clayton Spring Classic is the first road race of the year in the North West and has become a staple of the region’s early season calendar, with Ian Stannard, Rob Hayles and Dean Downing among the list of former winners.
Owing to the traditional handicap format, our riders set off in the second group; four minutes behind the first group with the women and 3rd/4th category men, and four minutes ahead of the Elite/1st category bunch.
The race began in typical handicap fashion with each group slowly eating into the lead of the group in front. A small group of six riders broke away off the front of the first group and the remainder of that group were then caught by group 2 containing our Juniors.
There was then an attack from that group, including Theo, two Juniors from Spokes RT and a few other strong riders. This little group soon created a gap and set off in pursuit of the six out front.
Behind, Elliot and George worked to prevent any other attacks going and their group was soon caught by the Elite riders who were certainly not hanging around.
Just as Theo’s small group was about to catch the leading group, one of the six attacked. David Allonby, known locally for his strong engine capable of clocking 18 minute 10 mile TTs, was the rider in question and it was the move which would define the race.
Theo’s group, which itself had whittled down due to the pace, caught the other five brave riders who were out front and that amalgamated group. Behind, the furious pace set by the GB Senior Academy riders had blown apart the chasing scratch group.
With Allonby still out front, and showing no signs of slowing down, it was a case of Theo’s group keeping the pace as high as possible to hold off the scratch group for as long as they could.
Eventually, it came down to the bell and only 4 miles left to decide the outcome of the race. With their intentions clear to see, the Academy riders once again drilled it on the front of the scratch group and they proceeded to catch Theo’s group and then just catch Allonby. It was Jacob Hennessy who sprinted to victory, repaying his fellow Academy riders’ efforts throughout the race. Theo sprinted to a fantastic 12th place and first Junior.
It was a tremendous result from Theo in his first road race for the team and it is very promising for the year ahead.
After the race, Theo said,
“The race was pretty fast from the start with a few little digs going here and there but George, Elliot and Sam covered them well.
“We caught the girls and a strong move with two Spokes Juniors went so I followed it and we pretty much stayed away the whole race until the last lap when we got caught. I managed to hold on to the group right up to the kick when I was distanced but still managed to get first Junior.
“I felt it went pretty well overall considering it’s only the first race of the season and there is plenty of time to improve the form.”
Elliot enjoyed putting the plan into action to give Theo the best chance to finish highly.
“Theo is going well at the moment so our plan before the race was to do everything we could to keep him safe and get him into a good position to get a result,” Elliot said.
“The crosswinds on one part of the course were brutal so that made it difficult but we managed to control our group and then once Theo was safely away in the breakaway, we just waited for the scratch group and then tried to stay with them for as long as we could.
“We’re really working well together and we’re all starting to come into fitness at just the right time. It was great to see Theo get a good result to kick off the year.”
Congrats to Jacob Hennessy for the win and thanks to Peter Boast and everyone involved in putting on another great race.
Photo credit: Ellen Isherwood