The day dawned not only dry, but actually warm and sunny in Northumberland – not an everyday occurrence in these parts, especially when there is a bike race! Add in only a slight bit of breeze and the stage was set for a real hard fight to see who would win the 3rd edition of the Curlew Cup.
The course consisted of 3 laps of the smaller 14 mile circuit used in previous years and then one final lap on the longer 22 mile circuit including the Ryals climb. Placing this towards the end of the race was an excellent move by the organisers and ensured that the race was unlikely to be decided before this point.
A total of 45 riders took the start at 9.15am and right from the go there were a number of attacks as the big teams looked to test each other. No real advantage gained on the first lap, but on lap 2 a sustained effort from Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International split the field leaving a leading group of about 25 riders. The riders dropped had by no means given up though and the last lap of the small circuit saw some hard chasing done to try and claw back the gaps.
The final longer lap saw yet more pressure being applied with Epic-Scott having a series of attacks from the start of the lap and Alexie Shaw gained a 25 second advantage as the race approached the Ryals climb. She clung on to the lead all the way up the climbs, only just agonisingly caught right at the very top, a very brave effort indeed. However, the chase had shredded the chasing pack and a small group of 7-8 riders had broken free with several of the Pearl Izumi team included along with Nikki Juniper of Team Echelon and Jesse Walker of Matrix-Vulpine.
The group stayed clear of the chasers and coming into the finish the Peal Izumi team looked to be setting up a lead out train for Gabby Shaw with Katie Archibald in the lead. However in true Katie style she hit the pedals hard coming to the finish to open a gap with the rest of the field chasing hard. Jesse Walker chased hard and produced a truly determined effort only just being outsprinted by series leader Nikki Juniper who produced a superb sprint to snatch 2nd behind the superfast Archibald. Charline Joiner of Pearl Izumi took the sprints competition to make for a very successful day for their team.
1 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
2 Nikki Juniper (Team Echelon)
3 Jessie Walker (Matrix Vulpine)
4 Gemma Neill (unattached)
5 Gabby Shaw (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
6 Alexie Shaw (Epic Cycles Scott)
7 Rebecca Rimmington (Merlin Cycles)
8 Julie Erskine (Velosport)
9 Anna Ewing (VW Breda)
10 Jane Barr (Velocity 44)