Nicola Juniper didn’t even need to bother setting her alarm clock to make sure she got to Ampleforth Abbey in time for the the start of the Ryedale GP: having won the Tour of the Reservoir and second at the Curlew Cup, third at the Otley GP and the Essex Giro, fourth at the Cheshire Classic, seventh at the CDNW Surf ‘n’ Turf and 15th at the Hillingdon GP, she’d already amassed 244 points in the 2014 British Women’s Road Series, far more than second-placed Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International; 140 points) could pick up even if she won both the primes and overall at Ryedale and the final round (Stafford GP, 1st of August). However, women’s cycling doesn’t work that way – Juniper may have already had the Series safely folded up and tucked into the pocket of her Echelon-Rotor jersey, but she was still there at Ryedale and put up an impressive race-winning fight.
The race picked up pace as damp conditions early on began to improve and a group of fifteen riders managed to split the pack in the first of two longer laps. Once on the first of the climbs, some riders were showing signs of strain and new groups began to form and riders came and went; Juniper was clearly the best of them and had gained a few moments’ lead by the time she completed the lap. By doing so, she had already proved herself capable of winning and could have taken the rest of the race at a more leisurely pace and enjoyed the spectacular North Yorkshire scenery – but she didn’t, choosing instead to ramp things up a notch or three and increase her lead to two minutes the second time she passed the college. By now, the chase group she was leaving far behind was feeling the pressure and began to fragment; six riders worked together during the third and shorter lap, but it was simply too late and Juniper crossed the line without challenge. Laura Massey (Epic-Scott) was next, taking second after doing the work of ten women to get back into contention for a podium spot after a puncture.
The Ryedale GP offers a fine two-for-one bargain for spectators, serving as both a round of the British Women’s Road Series and also as the National Junior’s Championship – and the riders eligible for it left no doubt that the future of women’s cycling in this country is going to be exciting with a very hard-fought battle of their own. Bethany Hayward (Matrix-Vulpine) was third over the line and thus becomes the new National Junior Champion; Elizabeth Holden (RST) was fifth to finish and therefore second in the Championship while her team mate Amy Gornall was eighth to finish and third in the Championship.
In the Road Series, Juniper now has 274 points. Shaw did not race at Ryedale and thus remains on 140 points; however, with Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International; 135 points), Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International; 110 points) and Laura Trott (Wiggle-Honda; 101 points) all now concentrating on the Commonwealth Games and only 40 more points to be won, her second place overall is guaranteed. Expect to see Molly Weaver (Epic-Scott) going all out for a good result at Stafford, though – with 96 points, she’s the only rider capable of leapfrogging Archibald into third overall. Full standings here.
1 Nicola Juniper (Echelon-Rotor) 60
2 Laura Massey (Epic-Scott) 52
3 Bethany Hayward (Welwyn Wheelers) 45
4 Emma Grant (Tibco-To The Top) 40
5 Elizabeth Holden (RST) 35
6 Rebecca Womersley (WyndyMilla-Reynolds) 31
7 Rebecca Rimmington (Merlin Cycles) 27
8 Amy Gornall (RST) 23
9 Jane Barr (Velocity 44 Stirling) 20
10 Jennifer Hudson (VC St Raphael) 17
11 Liz Malins (Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science) 15
12 Ellie Campbell (Fusion) 13
13 Alexie Shaw (Epic-Scott) 11
14 Gabriella Nordin (Pedal Power) 9
15 Sophie Faulkner (Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science) 7
16 Eve Dixon (Team 22) 6
17 Abigail Dentus (Team De ver) 5
18 Natalie Grinczer (Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science) 3
19 Rebecca Nixon (Dundee Thistle RC) 2
20 Abby-Mae Parkinson (RST) 1
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