The sun was shining and there were smiles along The Grove as crowds came out to enjoy the 6th edition of the Ilkley Cycle Races. The annual event has built a reputation amongst racing cyclists for a tough circuit with a terrific atmosphere, thanks to the wonderful support of an appreciative and vocal crowd. It is fast becoming a classic test in the calendar and a real badge of honour to win.
Madison-Genesis sponsored professional, Tom Moses of Keighley, succeeded in defending his title in the Lister Horsfall Grand Prix. Moses escaped in an early move with talented 18-year-old Oliver Rees (HMT Hospitals Giant). Moses said “I didn't plan to go that early. It's a hard circuit once you get away - you've got to press on the pedals all the way round.” At the finish, Rees was well beaten by his experienced break-away partner.
Behind them, there was a hard-fought sprint between Rees’ fellow junior team mate, Max Rushby and a local favourite, Pete Williams of SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling, who won this event in 2015. From a photo-finish, the judges gave Rushby the verdict.
The races attract over 300 competitors from across the UK, many of whom commented on how attractive a venue Ilkley is, with the testing climb of Riddings Road contrasting with the swoop back down on to the tree-lined Grove. This superb setting was enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, socialising in the evening sunshine.
A record number of riders took to the circuit for the women’s race sponsored by Ilkley Cinema. Staffordshire's Emily Meakin is currently based in Belgium and this was her first road race on English soil. On the sixth lap she countered an attack by GB junior rider Abi Smith, taking the sprint prime prize in the process. This caused a decisive split in the field with a very select group of five going on to fight out the final lap. In the home straight Christina Wiejak went long but Meakin showed the strength she has from racing on the Continent and convincingly won the sprint. "It was a race that was ridden from the front - just a war of attrition really" she said, delighted with her victory.
In his first attempt at a town centre circuit race, Sam Dickinson of Leeds surprised many by winning the Wheelbase Yorkshire GP. 14 yr old Ella Jamieson (Clifton CC) put in a sensational performance to win both the under 14s & under 16s girls’ races back-to-back. Harry Ellison (Shibden CC) won the u14 boy’s race with Max Poole (Bike Box Alan) taking the victory in the u16’s race.
Dacre, Son & Hartley and MAS Design sponsored the youth races and organisers Ilkley Cycling Club were delighted with the support they received from local businesses and the people of Ilkley for what has become a popular annual event.
Photo Credits: Tom Moses at speed - Ed Riley. Thumbs up and women's fizz - Michael Harris