Richards and Perkins sprint to close wins in Banbury Star's annual road races

By Roger Gollicker

By Zoe Ashton
Thursday, 27th May 2021, 4:14 pm
Winner Flora Perkins (Picture by Huw Williams)
Winner Flora Perkins (Picture by Huw Williams)

Nicholas Richards and 17-year-old Flora Perkins took the honours in Sunday’s Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club’s annual road races.

Cancelled last year, due to COVID, the event had a strong presence of British Cycling marshals and officials, monitoring what was one of the first test events to be held in the country. As a result, the club received an oversubscribed 60 rider entry for both the men’s and women’s races for one of the toughest club races on the calendar.

The 45-mile, three lap course is a real challenge, with its three ascents of the steep Edgehill climb, a big attraction every year for spectators. Fortunately, despite an increasing wind, both races managed to just about escape the forecast rain showers.

The leading group in the women's race at the bottom of Edgehill (Picture by Huw Williams)

The morning men’s race started at a rapid pace, assisted by a strong tailwind along the B4100. This encouraged two groups of two riders to try and make an early breakaway, but the first climb of Edgehill soon reeled them all in. However, once the climb was completed, another attack at the front took place led by Nicholas Richards (GS Mossa) By the start of the second lap, he’d established a lead of around 50 seconds over a chasing Nick Hammond (Ilkeston CC) and Angus Lawrence (Lee Valley Youth CC). At this stage the peloton was over a minute behind, with what seemed like little interest in closing the gap.

At the start of the final lap Richards’ lead had gone out to around 2 minutes, over the still chasing Hammond. At this stage and with the gap still increasing, he was already looking like a clear winner, but at last some action was happening behind. Initially, six riders, led by three members of the strong young JRC Shutt-Ridley Team, broke away from a gradually disintegrating peloton, and rapidly closed the gap. Richards was clearly tiring on his final climb of Edgehill and the group of what was now four riders, James Hartley, Taylor Hill and James Hawkins (all JRC Shutt-Ridley), plus George Gray (Z Junior RT) were nearly on Richards’ tail. The race was really now on to the finish between these five riders. Try as they did, the four chasers never quite caught Richards and he crossed the line just 5 seconds ahead of team mates James Hartley and Taylor Hill. George Gray finished fourth and James Hawkins fifth – just 15 seconds covering all five riders.

Three Banbury Star riders took part in the race; Graham Martin finished 36th, Richard Baker 42nd and Louis Bushby, the youngest rider in the race 45th.

The women’s race in the afternoon, the first round of British Cycling’s Women’s Team Cup, attracted 18 teams from around the country. Unfortunately though, the race started with a crash and quite a few retirements. Just after the descent of Warmington hill along the B4100 section, a rider fell bringing down around 20 others. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, but it split the peloton in half and caused a number of retirements.

Winner Nicholas Richard crosses the line (Picture by Roger Gollicker)

This incident in many ways set the pattern of the race, with 21 riders breaking away at the front followed by a group of eight riders and then the rest who were starting to spread out. At the start of the final lap, the leading group were still altogether, but their lead over the smaller chasing group, had gone out to nearly 3 minutes. The final climb of Edgehill started to gradually split the leading group as the race entered its final stage into Horley. On the final short climb to the finish, two riders had opened up a gap ensuring a sprint finish, with Flora Perkins (VC Londres) just beating Danielle Shrosbree (Team LDN) across the line. Ten seconds further back was Nicole Coates (Weston Homes) in third, with Charlotte Berry (Pro-Noctis) a further 15 seconds back, the first of a bunch of 9 riders.

The team positions and points were as follows;

1 Team LDN - Brother UK 231

2 VC Londres 177

3 Pro-Noctis - Redchilli Bikes - Heidi Kjeldsen 171

4 Saint Piran WRT 160

5 Bianchi Dama 145

6 Crimson Orientation Marketing RT 135

7 Loughborough Lightning - TRG 130

8 Weston Homes-Torelli-Assure 128

9 Awol 122

10 Brother U.K - Cycle Team OnForm 80

11 Tofauti Everyone Active 75

12 TW1 Racing 57

13 RFDA 49

14 JRC-Shutt-Ridley Race Team 45

15 Cowley Road Condors 41

16 Jadan - Vive le Velo 33

17 Will Houghton Racing Team 27

18 Team Watto-LDN 22