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Despite spending a big part of the race in the break, Blythe had enough left to beat Cavendish in a sprint from a small group at the British Championships; Fenn took the bronze medal

Photo: Sirotti

ADAM BLYTHE

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ANDREW FENN

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MARK CAVENDISH

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NATIONAL CHAMPIONSSHIPS

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26.06.2016 @ 19:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Adam Blythe (Tinkoff) delivered one of the biggest surprises at the national championships when he outsprinted Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) to take his first road race title. Having a long time in a four-rider break, the Tinkoff rider still had enough left to come around the fading Manxman in the reduced bunch sprint while Andrew Fenn crossed the line in third to give Sky a home medal.

 

The British Championships road race looked like it was playing out in the perfect way for Mark Cavendish. After he had worked hard to get into a small chase group and caught a strong four-rider group with Adam Blythe (Tinkoff), Alex Peters (Sky), Tao Geogeghan-Hart (Axeon) and Thomas Moses (JLT) with two laps of a 6.4km to go, Peters started to ride hard on the front to set his teammate Andrew Fenn up for a sprint win. With the group down to less than 15 riders and no teammates in the race, it was always going to be difficult for Cavendish to keep it together for a sprint but Sky did all the work to put the Manxman into the perfect position.

 

Confident in his chances, Cavendish hit out early after Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) had launched from afar and he looked poised to take the victory. However, Blythe had recovered surprisingly well from his long day in the break and he managed to come around the fading star sprinter just metres from the line to take a surprise win. Fenn paid back Peters for his hard work by taking third.

 

The 207km race in Stockton-on-Tees was held on a mostly flat course that consisted of 12 laps of a big 13.4km circuit and 6 laps of a shorter 6.7km circuit in the city. 

 

Time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was the first to launch a sustained attack, drawing out a 22 second lead at one stage, before being swallowed up by the peloton.

 

There were repeated attacks in a frantic first couple of laps, but riders weren’t able to make them stick in the opening exchanges.

Dowsett was in and around a number of early attacks, but the first main group charge that was able to sustain as lead came with eight laps of the main circuit to go.

 

Josh Teasdale (Prorace Cycling Team), Alex Peters (Team Sky) and Kristian House (One Pro Cycling) were among a group of nine who broke away, building up a lead of 40 seconds at one stage.

 

Other chasing groups attempted to bridge the gap, with two of them proving successful, the second of which included Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon Hagens Berman CT), Dowsett and Chris Latham (Team Wiggins), and caught the leaders with under three laps of the main circuit remaining.

 

No sooner had Geoghegan Hart joined the leading group, then he had set off on a break, joined by JLT Condor’s Tom Moses, Tinkhoff’s Adam Blythe and Alex Peters, opening up a ten second lead with two laps remaining, extending it to just under a minute and a half.

The leading four maintained a gap for the closing sections of the main circuit, but as riders headed into the city centre finishing circuit, they’d reduced it to just 25 seconds, with Cavendish driving hard.

 

But the leaders were able to hold off the challenge for the first half of the finishing circuit, before fading in the closing stages.

 

The catch was made with two laps to go – with rain starting to fall as riders entered their final lap.

 

The stage was set for a big sprint finish – and it didn’t disappoint. Cavendish, always in contention for these finishes went head-to-head with Adam Blythe – with the Tinkoff rider coming out on top to take the win on the line and claim his first ever national road race title.

 

Team Sky’s Andrew Fenn took third while the under-23 title went to Tao Geoghegan Hart.

 

It is still unclear when Blythe will make his debut in the jersey as he is very unlikely to get selected for the Tour de France.

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