The 9th and final round of the HSBC UK | National Women’s Road Series saw a team of six riders and their support staff make the journey to Ampleforth College to try and seal overall victory for the Series. With Lizzy Banks in a commanding position at the top of the standings, there was also the additional goal of trying to elevate previous Series leader, Chanel Mason on to the overall podium as well.
Just 61 riders took to the start but the field was always going to be attentive to the Storey Racing riders who had planned to follow moves during the first two big loops before starting to break down the race in the second half on the 3 smaller loops.
With a high early pace none of the main contenders were going to be allowed to get away, until a lone attack by Steph Mottram was given some room and the chasing peloton allowed the time to creep up to around 90 seconds.
Chanel Mason was the first of the Storey Racing riders to attempt to bridge over, but the move was shut down by the WNT team who knew the danger of letting such a strong rider take too many seconds. The attack proved to be the start of the chase to shut down the breakaway and this was eventually caught with 6km to go.
Storey Racing had all of their riders at the front, marking moves and trying to get riders off the front to win from a longer range attack. Nothing was moving and so it was down to a much reduced peloton to contest the finish. With Lizzy, Chanel and EJay all well placed the final climb proved a real leg sapper and the win went to Laura Massey with Lizzy and EJay just edged out in 3rd and 4th respectively. Chanel secured 3 riders in the top 15 with a 13th placed finish and as such ensured the team were confirmed as second overall for the Series.
Backed all the way by her loyal team mates, Lizzy had done more than enough to secure the overall prize for the National Series, with Laura Massey and Mel Lowther completing the podium. For Chanel a 4th placed finish overall marked the end of an impressive breakthrough season for the Army rider. Taking up cycling in only the last couple of years, Chanel’s progress during the course of 2017 has been sensational and there is even more to come.
Lizzy was quick to praise the support of her team mates and overjoyed to be able to celebrate her victory overall with them. As the newest recruit to the Storey Racing line up, Lizzy proved again why she was such a valuable addition, leading from the front and backed by her cool, calm and collected captain on the road Beth Crumpton who now turns her attention to the cyclocross season.
For EJay Harris her strong showing throughout the Series, usually in support of team mates but taking her opportunity for the team’s only victory at Otley GP, was a huge step after her cancer diagnosis 12 months ago. Riding strongly in every race her ability on all terrain is impressive and with still more headroom for improvement there are exciting times ahead.
The youngest riders on the roster at Ryedale are first year under 23 Monica Dew and first year Junior Mercy Webb. Both riders have stepped up in to a new category and excelled in the senior races. With Monica providing vital domestique support to riders, ensuring she pulls back her leaders after mechanicals and is ever present for fire power in the early parts of races. Never afraid to attack or try and bridge it has been exciting to see her flourish in a constantly improving domestic peloton. For Mercy the transition, like for most Junior riders, has been a huge learning curve. Competing as a 17 year old in a senior women’s peloton is never going to be an easy task but with specific goals it has been impressive to see the grit with which this young talent attacks each of her races. The future is certainly very bright.[photo credit: Chris Meads @chrismeadsphoto]