Blue skies and still conditions greeted riders for the inaugural FTR Milltag Spring Classic, perhaps lulling them into a false sense of security for what was to ensue. The Battlefield Circuit around Saxton, setting for one of the bloodiest conflicts in English history, provided the ideal canvass for riders to express themselves, some 550 years after the Yorkists beat the Lancastrian forces in the decisive Battle of Towton.

To extend a metaphor, the outcome of that battle was a change of monarch, and the eventual winner of the FTR Milltag Spring Classic signalled a changing of the guard in cycling terms, with a well-earned victory, helped by his amassed troops.

Seventy riders took to the line, just as the first spots of rain began to fall. The pace was high from the start, with lap one taking just 19 minutes 45 seconds, as riders sized each other up. The first move of significance was made by Dan Posnett of Squadra and Steve Colloby of All Terrain Cycles, who animated the race with a stinging two-man break, lasting almost three laps. Such was the respect between the riders, they agreed to forgo the traditional ‘sprint’ for the prime prize, a dozen North Brew Co beers, in favour of sharing the work, saving their legs and dividing the prize between them. A gentleman’s agreement befitting the occasion.

After a brief stoppage, whereby the commissaires rightly reminded riders of their duty to obey instructions, racing resumed at a furious pace. With the group back together, riders fired attacks off the front and Adam Robinson of Vision Racing was active, taking prime number two.

Despite the attacking nature of the race, work from inside the group ensured no-one was getting away for long. Coming into the bell lap, the race was all together, as riders resigned themselves to a bunch gallop. The pace was high into the final drag past the Crooked Billet, rising up towards Lotherton. Prologue Race Team took the initiative, with their ‘plan a’ coming to the fore at ‘that corner’. Gavin Taylor made his move, with conviction, getting his head down into time-trial mode. Behind, chaos ensued, as a crash disrupted the chase.

The cat and mouse tactics that followed, with Gavin pitted against some forty remaining riders, jostling for position and organising who was going to chase, were fitting of a Spring Classic. Taking the final corners at speed, it wasn’t until 20metres from the line that Gav permitted himself a look over his shoulder, seeing the bunch at a distance safe enough to allow him to sit up and celebrate a well-earned victory.

The sprint behind played out like so many we’ve seen in races across this county, and beyond, with Wheelbase rider Jack Ford taking a strong second, and FTR Milltag’s Chris Hoole rounding out the podium. Recently retired pro Tom Barras took fourth, with William Orrell-Turner taking the last of the cash placings, with fifth. A fitting end to an epic battle and a worthy victor taking the spoils.

Results

1. Gavin Taylor Prologue RT 02:19:12
2. Jack Ford Wheelbase +5 secs
3. Chris Hoole FTR Milltag ST
4. Tom Barras Unattached ST
5. William Orrell-Turner Wheelbase ST
6. Lee Brown Holmfirth CC ST
7. Jack Fawdington FTR Milltag ST
8. Mason Hollyman Bikebox Alan ST
9. Tom Cullen Otley CC ST
10. Toby Tanfield Brother NRG ST
11. Rich Moore Squadra RT ST
12. David Scott Rhino Velo RT ST
13. Matt Mannakee Prologue RT ST
14. John Tanner Unattached ST
15. Jimmy Parvin Prologue RT ST

Prime 1 Dan Posnett Squadra RT  / Prime 2 Adam Robinson Vision Racing

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A couple of prizes now we’ve had time to reflect…

Most aggressive rider: So many to chose from, but we like to encourage combativity, and it seemed like Adam Robinson of Vision Racing was always active on the front, being rewarded with the 2nd prime. An unfortunate crash added to the drama of his achievement, but ended his own ambitions.

Team prize: Never has so little reward been gained from as much effort as All Terrain Cycles Race Team put in. They truly animated this race, with aggressive riding and great team work. In addition, they provided almost half the volunteers, without whom, the race could not have happened. It’s this kind of team work that does us all credit. We gave them beers.

Race Speed: 24.9mph
Fastest Lap: 25.9mph
Riders starting: 70
Riders finishing: 45

Photos: Craig Zadoroznyj and Ed Cowburn, The copying of images is strictly prohibited.