Former British champion Kristian House (Rapha Condor-JLT) won a two-up sprint in Britain’s second UCI Europe Tour race of the year, the Beaumont Trophy.
House, who was one of 24 riders to break away from the bunch early into the tough, undulating 187km circuit in Northumberland, beat Mark Christian (Raleigh) after instigating an attack on the final lap.
Raced for the first time as a UCI-classified race this season, the Beaumont Trophy follows Rutland-Melton on the UCI Europe Tour calendar, with RideLondon and the Tour of Britain to come.
And House believes victory in the race, which includes four ascents of the Ryals, is perfect preparation for the national championships next week.
“It was a bit of a target, not a major one but something I wanted to do well in – especially with the nationals coming up next week,” he told RCUK after the race.
“Coming into this race, even before the start, I knew I had good legs. I knew I was going well. You know you’re going well, but you still need a bit of luck – getting into the right groups, not puncturing at the wrong time and so on.
“It was a long day in the break obviously. We went very early in the race but it all worked out in the end. It was a bit of war of attrition.
“When everything kicked off in the Ryals, eight of us got away and we all worked really well together.
“We came into the finishing circuit and my team-mate Rich [Handley] and I attacked constantly, trying to break up the group and in the end myself and Mark Christian got away.”
With all of Britain’s UCI Continental teams on the starting line, the break was made of several strong riders, including former BMC Racing man Adam Blyth (NFTO), who had three team-mates for support.
Tom Scully, Tobyn Horton and Scott Davies ensured Madison-Genesis had numbers in the group, while House and Handley flew the Rapha Condor-JLT colours.
Christian had Evan Oliphant and Alexandre Blain for company, while Steve Lampier and Nathan Edmondson (Node4-Velosure) also added strength to the group.
Having established a sizable lead, and stuck together on the first two climbs of the Ryals, the first attacks started to happen on the following lap, though no group was able to go clear.
At the foot of the final ascent of the climb, on which Sir Bradley Wiggins attacked three years ago to win the national championships, eight riders eventually went clear.
House, Handley, Christian and Oliphant ensured both Rapha Condor-JLT and Team Raleigh had numbers extra in the bunch.
And the advantage told as a frantic pace to the final lap ensued, House and Handley lighting it up before the former went clear, hauling Christian with him.
Blyth and Horton were both dropped from the chasing group to mount a spirited chase behind – cutting the two leaders’ advantage as the final kilometre approached.
As House and Christian hit the largely flat run-in, however, they stretched their advantage back out to an unassailable 20 seconds – both kicking with 200 metres to go.
House led it out, and the Rapha man – whose team also won Rutland-Melton through Team England Commonwealth Games rider Tom Moses – could not be stopped, crossing the finishing line arms aloft.
Further back, Blyth beat Horton to third place to round off the podium in a race which brought the four-day Virgin Money Cyclone to a close.
Earlier in the day, Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi Sports Tour International) had stormed to victory in the women’s Curlew Cup as her team exerted their dominance from the off.
Charline Joiner, who will join Archibald in the Scotland squad for the Commonwealth Games, had taken all three primes to take the sprint prize, with Dame Sarah Storey leading the team on the front of an ever-decreasing bunch.
Their aggressive pace meant the field was very strung out as they crossed the Ryals, with a leading group of just 15 riders left to contest the sprint.
Nicola Juniper (Team Echelon-ROTOR), current women’s road series leader, was in the leading group, but with Pearl Izumi leading the sprint out, Archibald stormed to victory with a sizable advantage.
Juniper finished second, with Jessie Walker (Matrix Fitness-Vulpine) third.
The four-day Virgin Money Cyclone also included three ‘Challenge Rides’, sportives covering 33 miles, 63 miles and 104 miles over tough, undulating Norhumberland terrain.
A family-friendly leisure ride over the famous Tyne Bridges also took place, while the Leazes Park Criteriums attracted a strong field – with Dean Downing (NFTO), the 2013 Beaumont Trophy winner, winning with a typically powerfully sprint to foil his former Madison-Genesis team-mates.
Stay tuned to RoadCyclingUK for more on the Cyclone, or for more information about the Virgin Money Cyclone Festival of Cycling visit www.virginmoneycyclone.co.uk