After an intense period of racing 8 rounds of the Tour Series the HSBC|UK National Women’s Road Series resumed in Melton Mowbray and Storey Racing were on the start line with Rebecca Durrell in the leader’s jersey after her round one victory in Lincoln.
An 8-strong team took to the start in support of Durrell’s series lead including new signing Melissa Lowther who had joined the team as of June 1st. With off road specialists Beth Crumpton, Anna Kay and Ffion James, alongside Wembley Tour Series winner EJay Harris, double Commonwealth medallist Neah Evans and Madison World Champion Emily Nelson completing the line up, it was all eyes on the Storey riders. The team arrived in Melton straight from the Tour Series in order to minimise the extra travel of having to send the team home. Team swanny, Rosie Crumpton also responded to a last minute call up and was on hand at the team hotel for some much needed massage.
A fast start provided the springboard for an early breakaway in which Neah Evans, Nikki Juniper and Sophie Wright were joined by Beth Crumpton. A second attack by Wright saw Crumpton distanced on one of the climbs and she returned to the peloton to ride in support of both Neah in the break and Rebecca in the leader’s jersey.
With the break extending to as much as 2 minutes and 45 seconds, the peloton injected some pace in to their chase which was expertly marshalled by the 5 Storey Racing riders who were protecting their leaders.
Neah didn’t have a smooth ride in the break, with a crash in the village of Owston mid way through the race and a further crash after a poorly marshalled junction left her in an impossible position trying to make the turn at the final moment. Despite adding to the road rash, cuts and bruises from her two spills during the Wembley round of the Tour Series, Evans shook off the discomfort in typical no nonsense fashion and looked calm despite a late attack from Sophie Wright which distanced Nikki Juniper.
As the leading pair entered the long finish straight, there was still daylight from Wright to Evans, but it wasn’t a gap that would stay for long. Evans timed her run at Wright in typical track fashion, passing her when she had nothing left to respond with and taking the win with several bike lengths between them.
The peloton were just over a minute behind with Beth Crumpton taking on the early lead out duties and driving the pace to discourage any loan attacks. Ejay Harris took the final turn, charging up the finish straight with Rebecca Durrell on her wheel, but she was unable to come round and at the finish it was 4th to Harris and 6th to Durrell with Anna Kay in 9th and Melissa Lowther in 12th. The top 3 for the team securing the team prize on the day and everyone having contributed to ensuring the team were at the top of the team standings after two rounds.
The leader’s jersey for the series passed on to the shoulders of Nikki Juniper, who had been 3rd in both of the first two rounds, but with
Rebecca Durrell only 2 points adrift and both Ejay Harris and Neah Evans now also featuring towards the top of the standings having not raced at Lincoln, the team is showing strength in depth.
Having witnessed the race from the mechanics seat in the car, team owner and DS Barney Storey said after the race, “This was an almost textbook team ride with the main aim to win the bike race and the secondary goal being the leader’s jersey and team prize.”
“There’s only 10 days to the Women’s Tour and I’ll be able to reveal our line up over the next few days.”
All pictures from Chris Meads