Witham Wheelers road race won by Grantham lad Baillie
Witham Wheelers promoted their annual two British Cycling Road Races on Bank Holiday Monday, supported by PedalPushers of Inner Street, Grantham.
Generally dry conditions with a strong westerly breeze made for some hard but entertaining racing, with some great results for local riders.
In the morning 48-mile race for 3/4 category riders, Karl Baillie (Witham Wh) made his intentions clear, leading through at the end of lap one with a 30-second advantage.
Over the second lap, Karl was caught by the bunch before breaking away again with three other riders – Owyn Wallace, Thomas Key (Leicester Forest CC) and Phillip Maddocks (Leicestershire RC) – to gain a 30-second lap at the end of the second lap.
During the penultimate lap, they were joined by another nine riders and the lead pushed out to 1min 30sec going into the final lap.
Still together up the final climb with 1km to go, Karl led out the finishing sprint and was strong enough to take a convincing win from Jack Levick (Rose Race Team).
A frustrated Martyn Ludlam (Witham Wh) led in the main bunch more than two minutes down in 16th place, having missed the earlier break, while Harry Browning was 24th.
The afternoon 82-mile race for Elite/1/2 category riders had a strong field including two of the top three riders in the national Elite rankings.
At the end of the first lap, Kieran Savage (Cycling Sheffield) and Simon Wilson (Ribble Pro Cycling) held a 15-second lead over a hard-chasing bunch.
It was all together again until lap three when six riders including ex-Wheeler Peter Cocker (Richardsons Trek) held a 22-second lead over the bunch. A lap later, the same six had a 25-second lead over seven riders, with the bunch a further 16 seconds back.
Into the penultimate sixth lap and Alex Luhrs (Ribble Pro Cycling) was 30 seconds ahead of 15 riders with a further nine at five seconds and the bunch at another 30.
With a lap to go, Peter was still looking strong in what was now a leading group of 11 riders, which had a 34-second lead over 14 riders, with the remnants of the bunch dropping further back out of contention.
Despite a cagey final lap, the 11 riders climbed the hill together, still with a 15-second lead over the nearest chasers.
Into the finishing straight, it was Luhrs who proved the strongest, holding off Oakham rider Ollie Maxwell (St Piran), with Peter just behind in an excellent fifth place which moved him up to 13th place in the national first category rankings.
Steve Young (RAF CC) finished 28th, whilst Wheelers Reece and Adam Egner were forced to retire earlier in the race, as only 41 of the 58 starters finished the race which averaged 26.6mph.
Photos: Alan East