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Geraint Thomas (Sky) took home the British title.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) claimed his first individual professional road race victory when he outsprinted teammate Peter Kennaugh to win the British road race championships on Sunday.
Thomas will now wear the British champions jersey when the Sky team debuts in the Tour de France next month.
Thomas was delighted to win the championship on a tough day. "This circuit is harder than any World Championships course I have ridden on. It was up and down all the time and it was quite stressful," Thomas said.
"I won the Team Time Trial in Qatar but this is my first individual win and it is really special. The nationals are something everyone dreams of winning. In the back of my mind I knew I had some good form. After the Dauphine I was going well but I had a little bit of a head cold last week so I took it easy and came here really fresh. I will be honoured to wear the jersey in the Tour de France to represent Britain.
Thomas was one of three Sky riders who made it into the race winning break early in the race. Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team), Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport – Specialised), Thomas, Kennaugh and Ian Stannard (Team Sky) built an unassailable lead on the toughest course in recent history.
The quintet held their advantage as the race behind gradually splintered into pieces and the challenge faded. Richardson was the first to feel the damage caused by thousands of metres of climbing in Lancashire in the hottest day of the year and he fell back with two laps to go. Hunt was finally distanced as the Sky team put the pressure on to create a unique 1-2-3 for the new team and put a smile on the face of Team Principal Dave Brailsford.
"Hats off to Simon Richardson. He was in the lead group with four ProTour professionals and he was definitely holding his own. He pulled his weight and he rolled through with us quite a few times when he could have just have sat on. With three to go I put in an attack to see how everyone was doing and Simon got tailed off and then Pete attacked and I went with him and we waited for Ian (Stannard) to get up to us and the rest is history."
"I am in the best form of my life. I have just got up a level and am really happy in my life. I have got a girlfriend, which has settled me down now and the family back are home supporting me all the way. I am in a good place at the minute."
Thomas showed his form when he reacted to Hunt's attack on the first lap and Richardson saw the move go and hooked on to form a three-man break. The third time up the major climb on the circuit saw the lead group swell to five with Kennaugh and Stannard jumping across from a bunch which had already started to split into ability groups. The climb was made even more difficult by a headwind but the riders may have enjoyed the breeze on offer as temperatures soared over 30 C.
"I only went after Jeremy (Hunt) because I had a bit of speed going up the little kick near the finish," Thomas said. "We were off the front and I thought I really don't want to be here but I am here now so got stuck in. When Ian and Peter came over to us we had to ride. Jeremy and Simon sat on a bit, as you would expect as there were three of us."
Ian Bibby (Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta) led the bunch up with Dan Fleeman (Raleigh) and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) on his wheel. The Raleigh team were the next to do the work on the front to chase the leaders. David Clarke (Pendragon – Le Col) was clearly finding the conditions easier than most and he put the pressure on the chase group on the next climb with riders lining out in distress behind.
David Millar (Garmin – Transitions), Bibby and Daniel Shand (Raleigh) Fleeman were in close attendance and the elastic finally broke. Millar finally showed some of the form seen on the continent recently and he went on the offensive taking Shand, Fleeman and Bibby with him. Ben Swift (Team Sky) jumped across and went along for the ride, but made only a fleeting visit.
Millar was riding strongly but he was unable to bridge the two minute lead. Russell Downing (Team Sky) tried to make it to Millar's group but Millar was on a mission and kept the pressure on. The bunch was now being driven by Clarke again as they ascended the main climb at around half of the 180km distance.
"We just tried to keep the bunch around two minutes behind and then they sat up and our lead went up to four minutes," Thomas explained. "We heard David Millar was getting across and we pressed on a bit, as we obviously didn't want him to get up to us. The cracked and then it was a race between ourselves."
Shand was dropped from Millar's chase group on the climb and Millar decided his race was run and he pulled off at the finish area to watch the rest of the race in a little more comfort.
Clarke was still on the charge in his solo move, first catching Shand and then joining up with Fleeman as they in turn tried to catch a glimpse of Richardson and Hunt who had been dropped from the lead group in the final laps. Clarke pushed on to finish sixth with Fleeman in seventh.
Andrew Fenn (100% ME) had his sights set on the Under 23 championship and he put the hammer down from what remained of the bunch to win the U23 gold medal and finish eighth overall. Sky had secured a podium for themselves and Kennaugh attacked on run into the finish but Thomas cruised past the young Manxman and held off his final sprint challenge to win the gold medal.
"Dave Brailsford pulled up alongside us with two laps to go said he was happy that with the team getting the 1-2-3 and it was up to us to race. I really wanted to win going into the Tour de France. I was worried about Pete because he is a strong climber and I had to mark him. He attacked and I sat on and that's all I needed to do. I waited for the sprint because I was confident I would beat him in that."
One on final note, Jonathan Bellis (Saxobank) was applauded all the way round the circuit by the appreciative fans. This was only Bellis's second race since he recovered from head injuries sustained in a motor scooter accident in Italy last year.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Geraint Thomas (Sky Pro Cycling)||5:07:08|
|2||Peter Kennaugh (Sky Pro Cycling)|
|3||Ian Stannard (Sky Pro Cycling)||0:02:20|
|4||Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Teast Team)||0:07:59|
|5||Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport Specialized)||0:08:23|
|6||David Clarke (Pendragon-LeCol-Colnago)||0:10:41|
|7||Dan Flleman (Raleigh RT)||0:10:43|
|8||Andrew Fenn (100% ME)||0:13:56|
|9||Rob Partridge (Endura Racing)||0:17:45|
|10||Paul Esposti (BCV)|
|11||Chris Froome (Sky Pro Cycling)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|12||Rhys Lloyd ( Pendragon-LeCol-Colnago)|
|13||Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp)|
|14||Ross Creber (Team Endura Racing)|
|15||Ben Greenwood (Rapha Condor Sharp)|
|16||Richard Cartland (Team Corley Cycles)|
|17||Douglas Dewey (GWR)|
|18||Thomas Swift-Metcalf (Palmeriras Resort)|
|19||Steve Lampier ( Pendragon-LeCol-Colnago)|
|20||Tim Kennaugh (100% ME)|
|21||Marcel Six (Orbea For Goodness Shakes)|
|22||Daniel Shand (Raleigh)|
|23||Mike Cumming (Raleigh)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|24||David Lines (Endura)|
|25||Matthew Stephens (Sigma Sport Specialized)|
|26||Kit Gilham (Sigma Sport Specialized)|
|27||James Williamson (Sigma Sport Specialized)|
|28||Gareth Montgomerie (Sigma Sport Specialized)|
|29||Will Bjergfelt (Wilier-Big Maggies/Prendas)|
|30||Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing)|
|31||Alistair Kay (York Cycleworks)|