Megan Cullen achieved Otley’s best ever Junior National result with 7th place on Stage 1. A real milestone on a National stage.
Megan and Lucy Ellmore rode for OCC. Wales and Ireland had their national squads. All the top Women’s Junior Teams were present.
This event was the first of the national junior women’s series and started with a 2.1 mile prologue time trial. Stage 1 was an underlating kermesse involving 8 laps of a 4 mile circuit, 32 miles. Stage 2 was a 40 mile road race covering 3.5 laps of an 11 mile circuit. 40 miles. Rolling course with With steady climbs and some tough head winds, the finish was at the top of a steeper incline.
Megan and Lucy completed the prologue, both finishing in second half of the field.
Stage 1 they had mixed fortune’s
There was a crash directly in front of me on lap 2; fortunately I wasn’t involved in it but still had to unclip to get round and this cost me time. The main group took advantage of the crash and attacked while I was sprinting to try to get back on. I couldn’t catch up with the group and instead formed a group with 4 others. We worked hard to chase the main group but never caught them and finished 8:25 down on the leaders.
I was disappointed to be held up with the crash as I felt that I could have clung onto the main group for longer but am grateful that I wasn’t involved as it could have been much worse.
I managed to swerve around the crash on the second lap, which reduced the field and increased the pace. Each time coming to the bottom of the incline I moved up the peloton toward the front which allowed me to comfortably sit within the riders on the hill. On the third lap a rider attacked and got a substantial lead which she held until half a lap to go. Pretty much as soon as we caught her there was another crash, which I luckily swerved around again. Going up the hill, then down into the last corners before the finish I stayed at the back, this allowed me to see any moves and have a full choice on where I wanted to go next. With 1 km to go I moved up into second wheel far on the right side of the bunch, this meant that I have plenty of room to move around the riders in front of me. With 300m to go (a tad early) I launched my attack, into the strong headwind I sprinted to 7th.
After a night’s sleep Otley Juniors faced Stage 2
The plan was to stick in with the peloton for as long as I could. With a break going after one lap, many attacks from other riders wishing to bridge the gap increased the pace rapidly. Going up the finishing hill with two laps to go there was a massive attack which distanced many riders, I was lagging on the back but eventually got distanced as well. In the end I got into a group of 4 riders including fellow team rider Lucy, and we raced to the finish together.
After the big attack, the bunch split up and I couldn’t hang on any longer. Me and two RFDA riders started to chase to get back on and we caught up Megan. We all worked hard as the main group was only about 30m away, however when we were in the headwind this gap grew until they were no longer is sight. We finished a few minutes down on the main bunch. I found the race really tough but I enjoyed racing on the longer course.