THE Guardian’s Pedal Power campaign aims to inspire readers on to their bikes, no matter what kind of cycling they prefer.

Each week we tackle a different aspect of the sport, from hints and tips to get started, features on events you could sign up to, issues faced by cyclists in Northwich and individuals who are keen to share their stories and encourage others to give it a try.

This week our spotlight falls on elite racing cyclists after a nail biting Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race in Northwich on Sunday.

THE cream of British women’s cycling battled it out on Northwich’s roads on Sunday in a fast paced and hard fought road race.

More than 70 riders from across the UK took part in this year’s Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race, with 27-year-old Karla Boddy, from team MG-Maxifuel, snatching first place by less than half a wheel length.

Hundreds of spectators lined Acton Hill, known locally as The Cliff, as the riders endured their last punishing climb to cross the finish line.

This followed 10 laps of a route through Weaverham and Acton Bridge.

Karla’s name now joins an illustrious list of previous winners, which includes Lucy Garner, Lizzie Armitstead, Nicole Cooke, Mandy Jones and last year’s winner, Paralympic gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey, who watched this year’s race with husband Barney Storey MBE, himself a Paralympic gold medallist.

“In my opinion this is the biggest one-day women’s race in the country after the British National Women’s Road Race,” said Karla, who hails from Oxfordshire.

“Many years ago you couldn’t get a full field in women’s cycling but now we’re scraping around trying to work out who to put in reserves.”

She was helped to victory by team mates Melissa Brand, from London, and Scottish Commonwealth Games team sprint silver medalist Charline Joiner, from Fife, with success being as much about strategy as strength.

Karla, who also picked up the Delamere Dairy Intermediate Sprint earlier in the race, said: “It’s about following wheels, following other people’s attacks and as the race goes on you realise who’s strong.

“It’s not just about brawn.

“I might not have been the strongest person in the race but I was the strongest in the last 250 metres.

“It’s about timing, creating your own luck and riding your own race.”

Matrix Fitness’ Emma Grant won second place and Emily Kay, from Scott-Contessa-Epic, came third.

Andy Wood, who organised the Cheshire Classic on behalf of Weaver Valley Cycling Club, said: “It’s definitely one of the most exciting races we’ve had in a long time.

“I don’t think we’ve had so many attacks off the front or brought back so quickly.

“We’ve never had a bunch sprint like that at the finish - it demonstrates how far women’s cycling has come.

“A lot of riders may have been shocked by the standard today.”

He thanked sponsors Breeze, Epic Cycles, Delamere Dairy, Roberts Bakery, De Vere Venues, Your Sports Therapist and Halfords as well as marshals and supporters.

“The support was absolutely incredible and I want to thank everyone who came out,” he said.

“It’s great for the local community to get behind the race.”