OLYMPIC and Paralympic champions raced through Northwich on Sunday in one of the most exciting cycle races organisers have known.
European Team Pursuit Champion Katie Archibald crossed the gruelling uphill finish line a massive one minute and 31 seconds faster than her closest rivals in the Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race.
Around 80 riders, including Dame Sarah Storey and Laura Trott, battled it out over 92km, which included 12 ascents of ‘The Cliff’ in Acton Bridge.
It was Katie’s first time riding in the Classic, organised by Northwich’s Weaver Valley Cycling Club, and also her first road race of the season, setting her up for the Women’s Tour of Britain from May 7 to 11.
She is riding the Tour with teammate Hayley Jones, who helped Katie make the break from the main bunch on Sunday and placed second.
Speaking to the Guardian at the finish line Katie said: “That was tough.
“I misheard and thought the gap was four seconds when actually it was 54, then that opened up to the minute.
“The Classic was a pretty big deal because it’s my first UK road race of the season and myself and Hayley are riding in the GB team for the Tour of Britain.
“We’ve got to be able to work together and trust each other.”
The pair race for Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, a team created by Paralympic gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey and her husband and fellow Paralympic gold medallist Barney Storey MBE, the manager and director of the team.
Dame Sarah, a previous winner of Classic, was captain on the road for Pearl Izumi, which swept the board when prizes were presented after the race.
Pearl Izumi won the team prize, four of its cyclists placed within the first 10, Katie Archibald won the sprint prize, Nicola Juniper was the highest placed Second Category rider and Hayley Jones won the prize for most aggressive rider.
Andy Wood, race organiser, said: “Wow, what an amazing race.
“From the start it was attack after attack after attack and I don’t think we’ve had a race like that before.
“We’d like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting the race and thank the community for accommodating the race, we really appreciate their support.”
The race was sponsored by Taylor Wimpey, Delamere Dairy, Wates and Adana Construction, Sport Cheshire, Epic Cycles, de Vere Venues and Your Sports Therapist.
A DELIGHTED Dame Sarah Storey praised fellow cyclists after her team swept the board at Sunday’s Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race.
Rider Katie Archibald, from Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, won the race with a comfortable lead of one minute and 31 seconds.
Dame Sarah, a Paralympic Gold Medallist said: “It was fantastic.
“The team performed brilliantly.
“I was captain on the road which meant I was instigating moves and keeping the pace high as much as I could during the race – I was super domestique for everyone for the day.
“Katie was on fire.
“I was having a chat with her at the end and saying ‘you can do this, you can go away on your own with a couple of laps to go and win solo’.”
Dame Sarah also ensured that Nicola Juniper, who currently leads British Cycling’s National Series, was supported and came in at fourth place, two seconds after Wiggle Honda rider and Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott, who came third.
Archibald said: “With Sarah having won it a couple of years ago and being figurehead of our team I think she was mama hen to quite a few of us and it was a huge advantage having her backing us.”
Race organiser Andy Wood, from Weaver Valley Cycling Club, said: “I want to say a big thank you to everyone who turned out today – riders and helpers.
“It’s demonstrated the growth in women’s cycling at the moment and the crowd at the cliff and on the bridge over the bypass was unbelievable.”
1) Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
2) Hayley Jones (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
3) Laura Trott (Wiggle Honda)
4) Nicola Juniper (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
5) Lowri Devey (Abergavenny Road Club)
6) Lydia Gurley (Merlin Cycles)
7) Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
8) Katie Curtis (Starley Primal Pro Cycling)
9) Molly Weaver (Epic Cycles – Scott WRT)
10) Ann Christian (Epic Cycles – Scott WRT)
Delamere Dairy Intermediate Sprint: Katie Archibald
Sports Cheshire Team Prize: Pearl Izumi Sports Tour International
de Vere Venues Most Aggressive Rider: Hayley Jones
Epic Cycles Highest Placed 2nd Cat: Nikki Juniper