Adam Blythe and Hannah Barnes crowned national champions in Stockton
Barnes beats sister to women's title; Blythe outsprints Mark Cavendish to claim blue, white and red jersey
Adam Blythe (Tinkoff) earned his first national road race title after out-sprinting Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) in Stockton.
The 26-year-old, a former national criterium champion, bagged his first win of the year after an active race which saw him form part of a late four-man attack and – when that move was caught with two laps of the finishing circuit remaining – outsprint Cavendish to take victory.
Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) also claimed her first national road race title in the women’s race, outsprinting sister Alice to take her first major victory since a broken ankle curtailed her 2015 season in August.
While both races came down to a sprint finish from a strong front group, both had been ridden aggressively with Dame Sarah Storey (Podium Ambition p/b Club La Santa) active in the women’s race.
Storey led from early in the race and held onto that advantage as a large chasing group pursued her on the 13.4km loop in Stockton.
Defending champion Lizzie Armitstead, the world champion, missed her opportunity to showcase the rainbow jersey due to illness but there were plenty of Women’s WorldTour riders in the chasing group.
Barnes, Wiggle-High5 duo Dani King and Lucy Garner, Liv-Plantur’s Molly Weaver and Armitstead’s Boels-Dolmans team-mate Nikki Harris, celebrating Olympic selection, were all present.
Storey was caught with two laps remaining of the loop remaining, before a further three laps of the technical finishing circuit as the peloton closed the gap to around the 30-second mark.
That prompted attacks from the elder of the two Barnes sisters, and a counter-move from Harris on the final lap but neither move stuck as the front group came onto the finishing straight together.
Alice Barnes kicked first, but it was sister Hannah who came around her to take victory, with the younger Barnes having to console herself with second place and the under-23 title; Garner took third.
In the men’s race, Movistar’s Alex Dowsett – who, along with women’s champion Hayley Simmonds, successfully defended his national time trial title earlier in the week – set his stall out to attack almost from the get-go.
The Essex man actually missed the move which finally stuck, as did Cavendish and Axeon-Hagens Berman’s Tao Geoghegan Hart but the three were part of a counter-move which eventually helped form a 22-man lead group.
For the rest of the peloton, that largely signalled race over as the advantage was stretched and a four-man move of Blythe, Geoghegan Hart, Tom Moses (JLT-Condor) and Team Sky’s Alex Peters forged clear on the final lap of the main loop.
They stayed out in front onto the finishing circuit, and still held a half-minute’s advantage as four of the six laps were checked off.
Cavendish’s group – now numbering just ten and sans Dowsett – bridged across, however, with Blythe content to sit on the wheel and gamble on a sprint rather than attack again.
Peters continued to push hard, with Team Sky the only team boasting more than one rider thanks to Andy Fenn also making the split, but nobody could get a solo advantage.
Cavendish opened up his sprint first, but Blythe kicked hardest to claim the red, white and blue-striped jersey.
Fenn took third to complete an all-WorldTour podium – no rider from below cycling’s top tier has taken the men’s national title since Kristian House in 2009 – and Geoghegan Hart claimed the under-23 honours by finishing sixth.
The day belonged to Barnes and Blythe, however, with two new riders set to don the iconic jersey for the next 12 months.
British National Road Race Championships – Women’s Elite: result
1) Hannah Barnes – Canyon-SRAM – 2.35.24hrs
2) Alice Barnes – Drops Cycling Team – ST
3) Lucy Garner – Wiggle-High5
4) Dani King – Wiggle-High5
5) Jennifer George – Drops Cycling Team
6) Nikki Harris – Boels-Dolmans
7) Molly Weaver – Liv-Plantur
8) Lucy Shaw – Drops Cycling Team
9) Neah Evans – Glasgow Wheelers
10) Annasley Park – Team Breeze
British National Road Race Championships – Men’s Elite: result
1) Adam Blythe – Tinkoff – 4.31.07hrs
2) Mark Cavendish – Dimension Data – ST
3) Andrew Fenn – Team Sky
4) Mark McNally – Wanty-Groupe Gobert
5) Scott Thwaites – Bora-Argon 18
6) Tao Geoghegan Hart – Axeon-Hagens Berman
7) Tom Stewart – Madison-Genesis
8) Dale Appleby – NFTO
9) Chris Lawless – JLT-Condor
10) James Shaw – Lotto-Soudal U23
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