KIRK Vickers took his opportunity and soloed to a fine victory in the opening round of the Shropshire & South Staffs Road Race League around the lanes of Knighton near Newport.
The 24-year-old from Whitchurch attacked in the closing stages of the 38 miles race along undulating roads to take victory.
The handicap format of the event meant that the first group of 4th category riders had an eight minutes and 45 seconds head start on the fourth group to start containing 2nd and 1st category riders.
With the group in between joining the head of the race by the closing lap it was down to the scratch group to catch 45 seconds off their rivals in the closing seven miles.
The catch was made within the last mile and Vickers made his move in the rolling and narrow roads leading into the finish winning by three seconds.
The opening round was organised by the riders and members of Newport Shropshire Cycling Club
“It was good and we were chasing pretty hard for the first few laps and the paced eased off as we knew it was going to come together before the last kilometre,” said Vickers.
“We caught them with a kilometre to go and I always planned to go for more of a longer effort as opposed waiting for the sprint as you have people like Ben Joughin and Chris Pook and I knew that I wouldn’t beat them in the sprint.
“So I went for a long one and it payed off. The race lulled as soon as we caught the front of the race so I went, got the gap and put my head down.
“I knew that if I was going hard then they would have to go hard to catch me. I tried the same move last year and got caught and thought I probably would again but I kept my head down and looked behind a few times and the gap was getting bigger.
“As soon as I hit the downhill run in I knew I was going to get it.”
There was a close battle behind for the remaining places and category leading jerseys with veteran rider Philip Glaze (Fishface Cycles RT) leading the charge for second on the night and category victory.
Reigning series winner Ben Joughin (Pro Vision Race Team) took third place on the night to open his series points tally ahead of rival Chris Pook (Rhino Velo Race Team).
Junior rider George Mills-Keeling, from Bridgnorth, had worked hard all night in the third group to keep the scratch group riders behind.
Despite his effort the 16-year-old still had enough energy left for fifth place on the night and the winner of the junior category leader’s jersey.
He will have stiff competition for the overall series as Pro Vision Race Team team-mate Sam Beeston and Farley Barber also finished in the top-10 along with Jamieson Blain (Zappi Racing Team).
In the women’s category Annie Stanford (Paramount CRT) finished a second ahead of Amanda Whitehouse (Stourbridge CC) to take the category leader’s jersey.
Vickers hopes that he can keep the overall leader’s yellow jersey as the series take on the flat and fast roads around Charlton next Thursday.
“It’s my first win of the season and first yellow jersey on my shoulders,” added Vickers.
“It’s Charlton next week which is a sprinters course, it’s not going to suit me but hopefully if I finish in the top-5 it will keep the points up.”
1 Kirk Vickers (Rhino Velo Race Team)
2 Philip Glaze (Fishface Cycles RT) 1st veteran
3 Ben Joughin (Pro Vision Race Team)
4 Chris Pook (Rhino Velo Race Team)
5 George Mills-Keeling (Pro Vision Race Team) 1st junior
6 Sam Beeston (Pro Vision Race Team)
7 Farley Barber (Pro Vision Race Team)
8 Jamieson Blain (Zappi Racing Team)
9 Daniel Butlin (EvoVelo Karbona)
10 Tom Pook (Rhino Velo Race Team)
1st woman- Annie Stanford (Paramount CRT)