The British National Road Championships concluded on Sunday with the road races and Ribble Pro Cycling lined-up with nine riders on a high after some great performances in the time trial championship.
Dan Bigham capped off a fantastic National Championship weekend for Ribble Pro Cycling by winning the King of the Mountain prize and placing fourteenth in the road race held over 185km (115 miles) of the tough Ryals circuit in Northumberland.
“I’ve only raced on this course once before. Two years ago I was third in the Beaumont Trophy behind Dion Smith (now with Wanty-Groupe Gobert), but I thought that today it would be torn apart by the real hitters at the back end of the race,” Dan said afterwards, “I really didn’t imagine the break staying away.”
Zeb Kyffin (above) added to a fantastic day for the Ribble team by finishing twelfth Under-23 rider and finishing ahead of riders of the calibre of James Shaw (Lotto Soudal) and World junior time trial champion Tom Pidcock.
The team went into the race with a number of options and, because the Under-23 title is incorporated, decided to have four protected riders (among the nine rider team). With John Archibald finishing fourth in Thursday’s time trial and Alex Luhrs winning in Belgium the weekend before they were selected as the best elite title contenders whilst Will Corbett and Zeb Kyffin would be supported in their bids to win the Under-23 title.
How the KOM prize was won
The King of the Mountains prize was decided on the four ascents of the 1.5km Ryals climb which begins with sections as steep as 18% before levelling and then kicking up again.
“That main break went after about 30km of racing. There were five guys already away off the front of the race and I’d just towed John (Archibald) up to the front (of the peloton),” said Dan.
“Then Owen Doull (who eventually finished third) attacked in a crosswind section of the course and I was well placed to go with what turned out eventually to be the race winning move when we joined the five riders up front. I was getting shouted at for riding too hard and I took the first two KOM points because no one was contesting them. I really thought the break would be caught and the race torn to shreds so I contested the third KOM with Owen Doull,” Dan added.
The breakaway of 17 riders with Dan in it built up a lead of over four minutes over what was left of the peloton and stayed together until the final 15km before the title went down to a battle between 2016 champion Adam Blythe and Connor Swift. Swift’s solo attack was a winning one though and too strong for fellow Yorkshireman Blythe who had to settle for a silver medal.
“The lights did start to go out in the final 20km, when the group broke up, but I was still attacking once it started to descend from the final climb,” Dan told us.
What happened to the hitters?
Thursday’s Time trial winner Geraint Thomas was a non-starter in the road race preferring to stay safe for the Tour de France starting six days later (July 7th). Former British champions Mark Cavendish, who is still looking for form before the Tour, and Peter Kennaugh did not featured in the action and were among the many riders who did not finish.
Dan’s next race with the Ribble team is the GP Albert Fauville a UCI 1.2 race in Belgium .