Anna Henderson and Matt Gibson produced stunning performances to win the 2018 HSBC UK | National Circuit Championships at the Stockton Cycling Festival.
The 19-year-old Cycle Team OnForm rider Henderson broke away in the early stages of the women’s race and never looked back on her way to claiming her maiden national title.
JLT Condor’s Gibson won a sprint dual with defending champion Tom Pidcock to claim his first national title on the road.
Even in the early stages of the race, the peloton became quite fractured with a group of nine riders, led by Henderson and Beth Crumpton (Storey Racing), getting away.
On a splendid summer’s evening in Stockton, Henderson then pulled clear alone, hotly pursued by former champion Nikki Juniper (NJC – Biemme – Echelon) and Team Breeze’s Rhona Callandar – but Henderson was too strong and with around a third of the race gone, her lead on the chasers was more than 20 seconds.
The teenager was in a class of her own, regularly lapping back markers and the work of Team Breeze in the peloton could not reel her in, with the lead extending to 45 seconds at the halfway stage.
With Henderson awaiting her coronation and a minute clear, Jo Tindley (NJC – Biemme – Echelon) made an attacking move to attempt to reel in the leader.
But it was an impossible task, with Henderson’s magnificent solo effort delivering her to the national title.
Tindley’s bravery was rewarded with the silver medal – but there was drama in the race for bronze with a number of riders crashing in the home straight after the final corner.
Team Breeze’s Jess Roberts – the recently crowned national road race champion – avoided the melee to finish third.
After crossing the line, a thrilled and stunned Henderson could not believe what had happened:
“It was not the game plan to time trial for 40 minutes. I thought I’d see what happened, see who followed and no-one followed!
“I just carried on, all the team were encouraging me. I saw the lines, the safest place to be was at the front.
“It’s unbelievable. I have no words, to do it in this great town in front of all these people, it’s great!”
The men’s race began in a fairly cagey fashion, with One Pro Cycling’s Chris Latham and Canyon-Eisberg’s Harry Tanfield taking to the front in the early exchanges.
Approaching the halfway mark, JLT Condor’s Jon Mould launched a break, with One Pro Cycling’s Charlie Page alongside him. The move did not stick – but it saw the race pace go up a notch.
Road race champion Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) attempted a similar move in a bid to become a double champion – quickly marked by the defending circuit champion Tom Pidcock (Team Wiggins).
Swift’s teammate Tobyn Horton then tried to break, followed by Team Wiggins’ Joey Walker, with Latham and 100% ME’s Dan Tulett in pursuit as the peleton fought back to bring the race together again.
With five laps to go, the contenders were all together, with Tom Moses, Matt Gibson (both JLT Condor), Latham and Pidcock looking particularly dangerous.
The stage was set for a thrilling bunch finish in the centre of Stockton.
Pidcock came around the late 180 degree turn in the lead, but HSBC UK | National Circuit Series leader Matt Gibson pulled off a terrific move to slip up the inside of the Team Wiggins rider to take the title.
Pidcock had to settle for silver with Gibson’s teammate Jon Mould finishing third.
The new national champion was full of praise for his JLT Condor colleagues.
“It’s me that won, but it’s everyone else who did the work covering the moves. I couldn’t have done it without them and the lead out. I can’t thank them enough.
“I came out behind Pidcock and I knew if I was in a good spot no-one would get the better of me. The whole race I knew I’d get the win if I was in a good spot.
“It was definitely a hard day, flat out from start to finish.
“It’s my first national championships off the track. It’s great to pull it off and get a jersey I can wear for the year.”