Riders rolled out of Cardiff for the 3rd edition of Velothon Wales on what can only be described as another scorching hot day! The 172.4km race ushered the peloton through Newport before heading towards Usk, cutting North up the Valley to the famous Tumble climb, which the riders would have the joy of tackling twice. Following the Tumble, another 30km of undulating ground lay in wait before the leg sapping ascent of Caerphilly Mountain and a final 13km dash back into Cardiff for the finish.
As the flag dropped a wave of attacks were launched at the head of the peloton as riders attempted to go clear. Even in the early hours of the race, the bunch meant business, travelling at an average speed of 49kph in the first 60 minutes of racing.
Unhappy with many of the breakaway attempts, it took until the 60km mark before the peloton finally let a break of 11 including Pete Williams go clear.
The time gap slipped out to a maximum of five minutes before Team Ireland took up the chase at the front of the peloton. Slowly chipping away at the gap, it was brought back to a 2 minutes 30 seconds at the bottom of the second ascent of the famous Tumble… which is when the race really kicked off.
With 40km remaining and taking full advantage of the situation, Karol Domagalski went clear with Erick Rowsell of Madison Genesis in an attempt to bridge across the 90 second gap to the leaders. After 5km of chasing they caught the leading group, which had reduced to just 8 riders under the pressure of the tough Velothon course. However the peloton of 30 riders behind had got organised and it was JLT Condor who led the chase, bringing the race back together with 28km remaining.
JLT continued to set the pace as they headed towards Caerphilly Mountain, approaching the foot of the climb with just 15km to go, last year’s winner Tom Stewart launched a strong attack which caused panic in the group. Once Stewart was caught, Karol Domagalski and Ian Bibby (JLT) counter attacked and went clear on the steep climb as the group behind splintered.
Bibby (JLT) and Domagalski worked well together on the fast run into the finish, opening up a gap of 30 seconds which was reeled in to a tantilising 10 seconds with 1km remaining.
Out of the last corner it was Bibby (JLT) who got the jump on and held position to take victory as our Polish Powerhouse crossed the line in a very credible 2nd place. A brave and powerful performance by the duo, holding off the peloton by just 2 seconds at the finish line.
Another strong performance from ONE Pro Cycling with Kiwi’s James Oram and Hayden McCormick crossing the line in 6th and 9th place respectively, rounding off a solid performance for the team.