The 49th Clayton Spring Classic is the North West Season opener and took place in full winter conditions including wind, rain and snow.
The event is a handicap race in which the Junior riders of which there were 27 started with an advantage of 3 minutes over a group of 30 2nd/3rd and 4th Category riders. The elite group containing 25 riders and four of the ONE Pro Cycling team started 6minutes 30 seconds back on the Juniors. 15 laps of the Bashall Eaves course were to be raced which covered a race distance of 59miles.
The Junior group made a strong start increasing their advantage in the first couple of laps whilst the Elite group looked at each other a little before the chase started in ernest. ONE Pro Cycling were a driving force behind taking an average of around 30 seconds a lap over the groups in front. It was around 7 laps to go when Pete Williams attacked out of the group and decided to start chasing down the fragmented Junior group.
Alex Jones of Champion Systems who started in the Elite group had already made his move but was quickly caught by Pete, once they got together they rode across strongly to the group of around 6 juniors who were still trying to hold off the chasing pack. Pete made the junction with around 5 laps to go and after a short recovery made the race winning move. Once Pete got his advantage he got into his rhythm and started to focus on winning the race. The peloton was beginning to fragment behind as the snow and hail began to fall. The other three remaining ONE Pro Cycling riders behind, Josh Hunt, Sam Williams and George Atkins were aggressive at the front of the main peloton which was around 50 riders strong and managed to get themselves into a group of ten.
As the race went into the closing laps Pete had built an advantage of around 45 seconds which wasn’t budging and he began to look good for the win. Sam Williams made a move out of the group of ten and was joined by David McGowan of Pedal Heaven, Josh Hunt saw the danger and quickly joined the 2 chasing riders giving ONE Pro Cycling a numerical advantage.
Coming into the closing lap Pete had time to celebrate his first victory for ONE Pro Cycling. Josh put in a move with a couple of miles to go but McGowan chased hard to bring him back leaving a sprint between the three chasers. Both Sam and Josh put in a strong sprint at the end of a long cold morning to take 2nd and 3rd position with George Atkins finishing within the remnants of what was the main peloton in 10th position
1st Pete Williams
2nd Sam Williams
3rd Josh Hunt
10th George Atkins
Elsewhere Marcin Bialoblocki raced the Primavera Road Race in Devon taking the top spot after a 30km solo ride.
Perfect preparation to the busy season ahead.
Images courtesy of Rick Robson – CycleSportPhotos.com