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"Once I tried my luck with the attacks on the climbs and he was still with me I thought it was game over. I couldn’t believe it when I was coming around him to the line. It felt surreal," Kennaugh says

Photo: Sirotti

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSSHIPS

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PETER KENNAUGH

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TEAM SKY

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29.06.2014 @ 23:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Going into the two-rider sprint in the British road race championships, all odds were on sprinter Ben Swift to come away with the win. However, his teammate Peter Kennaugh created the surprise that he had never believed after so often having been beaten by his teammate in training.

 

Pete Kennaugh prevailed in a thrilling finish to lead home Ben Swift in a Team Sky 1-2 at the British national road race championship.

 

The Manxman attacked repeatedly in the closing stages in a bid to distance team-mate Swift but the pair headed into the final kilometre together in Wales and battled it out in a two-up sprint.

 

Swift took it up early, but Kennaugh had just enough in reserve to come around his friend and finally capture what, up until that point, had been an elusive senior national title.

 

Team Sky took the race on and committed numbers up the road in a bid to claim a fourth national road championship in five years. Luke Rowe and Josh Edmondson were also present in the lead group and their repeated attacks helped to ultimately distance the threat of Adam and Simon Yates.

 

The latter held on to take the final spot on the podium, one minute and nine seconds back, while Rowe and Edmondson made sure there were four Team Sky riders in the top five.

 

After the finish, Kennaugh admitted he hadn't expected to edge beyond established sprinter Swift.

 

"Once I tried my luck with the attacks on the climbs and he was still with me I thought it was game over," he admitted. "I couldn’t believe it when I was coming around him to the line. It felt surreal.

 

"I’ve done so many training sprints with Swifty and he just leaves me, but today was my day obviously.

 

"Working with Swifty on the last lap, it’s always hard with such a good mate to play those tactics of sitting on for almost the whole of the last lap."

 

The 25-year-old also claimed the win ranks right up there in his list of achievements.

 

"I think this almost tops it," he added. "I’ve got so many fantastic memories of the nationals and of cycling, like Alpe-d’Huez last year at the Tour, finishing on the Champs-Elysees and obviously the Olympic Games. But I think because I’ve been so close to this for so many years now, it’s got to be one of the best."

 

Team Sky were determined to recapture the national title after a year without the jersey in their ranks as the riders headed off on to the gruelling 186km route in Monmouthshire.

 

It was Rowe who kicked things off early on as the Welshman, racing on home ground, went away in a three-man escape group.

 

With 55km in the books the group swelled as Rowe was joined by team-mates Edmondson, Kennaugh and Swift, plus under-23 time trial champion Scott Davies (Madison Genesis), Mark Christian (Raleigh) and the Yates brothers (Orica-GreenEdge).

 

The race began to settle into a rhythm and as the gap spun out, Geraint Thomas looked to bridge across solo, jumping out of the peloton and quickly taking a minute out of the gap. After his initial effort, the 2010 champion was then left dangling a further minute behind the group as the riders ahead combined to good effect.

 

It was those men who would contest the win over 10 laps of the Abergavenny finishing circuit. Rowe again was the first to kick on and with three laps to go his dig was shut down by Simon Yates, yet the acceleration put Adam into difficulty and also distanced Christian from the group.

 

Eventually it was down to just two men and Kennaugh repeatedly attempted to go clear on the undulating far side of the course, yet Swift proved equal to the task. The balance looked to have tipped towards the sprinter before Kennaugh produced a final burst, making sure his fifth senior trip to the podium was to stand on the top step.

 

The result completed a strong nationals week for Team Sky, with Bradley Wiggins's victory in the time trial sealing a British double for the team. Kanstanstin Siutsou also defended his Belarusian time trial championship, while Dario Cataldo (second, Italian time trial) and Bernhard Eisel (third, Austrian road race) also captured podiums.

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