Professional cycling returned to Ilkley on Friday with the annual Ilkley Cycle Races, an integral event in the British Cycling’s National Circuit Series.
Proving his recent top form, Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli’s Matt Fox sprinted ahead to claim the top podium spot during the headline event. Despite an unprecedented emergency medical suspension in the middle of the Lister-Horsfall Grand Prix Race, Matt proved his mettle against the nation’s top riders with a commanding sprint taking him clear of his rivals at the line.
The event featured five separate races to fill the evening. Luca Bednarek of Kirklees Cycling Academy won the MAS Design Under 16s boys race, while a host of local lads blasted in behind, including Matthew Peace of Otley CC and Louis Herring of Ilkley CC, 6th and 9th, respectively. Abigail Miller of Clifton CC lead the girls home.
Incredibly, Abigail Miller did not get off her bike after winning the Under 16s girls race as her stellar performances this season have gained her special permission from British Cycling to race with adults already. She joined the women's support race… and won that race as well! Emily Middlebrooke of Otley CC took third, pipping Ilkley CC’s Emily Robinson at the line by a fraction of a second.
The Wheelbase Men’s Category 2, 3, and 4 Race attracted 80 entrants. Jake Jackson of Rose Race Team took honors, with Jacques Goetz and Tom Cullen of Otley CC finishing comfortably in the top ten. Other local riders who finished the demanding circuit include Luke Rothery of Airedale Olympic CC and Prologue Racing Team’s Callum Watson.
The Ilkley Cycling Club Elite Women’s Race featured top pros from around the country. Millie Couzens of Fenix-Deceuninck (continental pro development squad) took the honors, with Maddie Leech of Lifeplus Wahoo sprinting in to take a solid fifth place.
75 riders lined up for the evening’s top event, the Lister-Horsfall Grand Prix. It featured top professional riders from around the country looking to pick up points for the National Circuit Race Series. After 15 laps, well before the scheduled finish… the race was stopped in its tracks by British Cycling Commissaires, who are responsible for race protocols and safety.
Far from the hubbub of the Start/Finish on the Grove, Emergency Services needed to cross the closed circuit to get a local resident to the hospital. Although a rare occurrence, race officials were able to stop the action, let the ambulance clear the course, then re-line up riders to release them with the exact time gaps that existed when they were stopped. Within twelve minutes of the stoppage, the race was back on!
The result was uncertain until Matt Fox “put the hammer down” on the final straight, leaving the two others he was riding with, Ed Morgan of Wales Racing Academy and George Kimber of Embark Spirit BSS, gasping for air. After stellar recent performance in Ireland’s Rás Tailteann stage race, Matt has now won 3 races in the last 2 weeks.
Matt Fox was glowing after the race. The Aussie cyclist who lives in Keighley said, “I am over the moon to take the win so close to my ‘home’ town with the support from many friends and family along with local companies supporting my journey such as Airedale Group, Cab-tech Bespoke Interiors and Wheelbase Cycles.”
The wet conditions meant that local lad Tom Pidcock’s 2016 lap record of 1m 59s was never going to be under threat. Tom did not make this year’s race because he is riding the Tour de France with his Ineos Grenadiers teammates.