Steve James (Hargroves Cycles) was crowned South of England champion after a thrilling finish to the title race at Beaufort County School in Gloucester.
The 19-year-old rider from Crowthorne in Berkshire won by just three seconds from Wheelbase rival Michael Cotty.
The race held within the school grounds just north of Gloucester on an overcast dry day. The ground was dry and fairly firm for all the races. As the riders lined up there were some fast riders on the front of the grid all vying for a quick start.
Report by Graham Robins
It was Steve James who took the race by the scruff along the long straight before they entered the twisty section in the middle of the course. Soon on his wheel was Will Bjergfelt (Motorpoint), Michael Cotty (Wheelbase /Cannondale), Crispin Doyle (Swindon RC) and Ben Sumner (Beeline Cycles). These five riders were to be the strongest and they stayed away for most of the race.
Although the order changed, it was these five riders who were now consolidating quiet a large lead with clear daylight between the chasers now coming through in ones and twos.
Lap three saw Will heads the leaders through the finish line and decided to up the tempo, but the other four soon closed the gap. The leaders all took turns on the front, trying to test each other out.
On the fourth lap the first signs of the high pace catching up struck when Ben dropped back, but he put in a massive effort and managed to attach himself back on the leading train only to be shelled out the back with a short distance.
The next three laps saw the four riders all together with each taking turns on the front, Ben now well and truly dropped and unable to get on again.
Through the finish area with bell ringing Steve went to the front and upped his pace, with Crispin slipping towards the back but did stay in contact with Will. As the pace increased Steve and Michael were clear and Will and Crispin together.
As they approached the finish area it was Michael from Steve, Steve then passed him and pulled away to solo to victory with Michael three seconds back. A few seconds later Crispin and Will came into view side by side and sprinting for the line. The ‘photo’ finish gives it to Crispin by the width of a tyre. Ben still managed to stay clear of the chasers and finished a creditable fifth.
The day got underway with the under 12’s race. Harry Dridge (Southdown Velo) was soon on the front and opened up a large gap over second place Jay Allen (PPV). At the end of the second lap Harry had a lead of four seconds over Jay with Liam Sewell (Swindon RC) and Conor Hutchinson (Swindon RC). James Scott was in forth riding a mountain bike with Maddie Wadsworth the leading girl closely followed by her sister Anna.
At the finish it was Harry from Jay at one minute 23 seconds with Liam a further 55 seconds behind him. The girl’s race was won by Maddie, 38 seconds clear of Anna.
Next up was the Youth race. As the race started Harry Lowe (Hargroves Cycles) pulled out a lead over Rob Bolwell (Wight Mountain) from Cameron Woolsey and Zinzan Heap (Team Milton Keynes).
In the twisty section there was a bank which Harry tried to pass and rolled his tub off the rim, having to stop as the tub was jamming the brakes, put it back on and roll round to the pits for another bike, putting him back by about 20 seconds. Once out of the pits Harry set about closing down the new leader Cameron. Rob was now in second with Harry now closing in on him.
On the next lap and just past the pit exit Cameron punctured and had to complete half a lap before he could pit again. Harry was now clear of Rob with Zinzan now third. Once out the pits Cameron soon set about getting back on to the leading group.
In the girls race it was Bethany Taylor (BCDC) 24 seconds ahead of Emily Wadsworth with Alexandra Sheehan and Rhianna Jones a further minute back. Lauren Murphy was next through but not in a position to trouble the leaders and struggling to stay in touch.
With Harvey now well clear it was Cameron just ahead of Rob we were in for a dramatic sprint for the line. With Cameron leading him out Rob went past him on the line and Cameron was a little way back in third.
The vet junior women combined race was a large entry and began with three riders soon opening a gap on the first lap. Matt Hargroves (Hargroves Cycles), Sean Williams (Wight Mountain) and Keith Sheridan (Hargroves Cycles) soon had a clear gap over the chasing bunch. In the women’s race it was it was Tamina Oliver (Squadra Donna) clear of Claire Smith (Swindon RC), with Christina White just ahead of Sarah Woods (Wight Mountain) back in fourth.
On the third lap Keith dropped back to the chasers leaving Sean and Matt on their own. The chasing group was lead by Mike Simpson (GS Henley) from Michael Groves (Stevens UK), Matt Woods (Hargroves Cycles) with National Champion Steve Davis (Team Jewson) with Keith Sheridan also in the group.
The men’s race now sees Matt Hargroves behind Sean Williams as he will be for the whole race until the final 200m. Mike Simpson now has a couple with him in Michael Groves and Matt Woods, but he gets away and soon has a good gap over them.
The leading pair arrived in the finish area together with Matt again just behind Sean before sprinting away to take the combined win. Sean finished second with Mike Simpson third. The women’s race is won by Tamina who finished one minute 32 seconds ahead of Claire with Sarah a further 30 seconds back.
1 Steve James (Hargroves Cycles)
2 Michael Cotty (Wheelbase) @ 3sec
3 Crispin Doyle (Swindon RC) @ 23sec
4 Will Bjergfelt (Motorpoint) @ same time
5 Ben Sumner (Beeline Cycles)
1 Matt Hargroves (Hargroves Cycles)
2 Matt Woods (Hargroves Cycles)
3 Joe Griffiths (Dream CC)
1 Tamina Oliver (Squadra Donna)
2 Claire Smith (Swindon RC)
3 Sarah Woods (Wight Mountain)
1 Sean Williams (Wight Mountain)
2 Michael Simpson (GS Henley)
3 Steve Davies (Team Jewson)
1 Harvey Lowe (Hargroves Cycles)
2 Robbie Bolwell (Wight Mountain)
3 Cameron Woolsey (unattached)
1 Bethany Taylor (Bristol Cycling Development Squad)
2 Emily Wadsworth (Beeline Cycles)
3 Alexandra Sheehan (Bristol Cycling Development Squad)
1 Harry Dridge (Southdown Velo)
2 Jay Allen (PPV)
3 Liam Sewell (Swindon RC)
1 Maddie Wadsworth
2 Anna Wadsworth