JOHNNY McEvoy was a delighted winner of the Junior Tour of Wales which ended on Monday with the best finish in the event?s long history.
The Kinesis UK rider, who was down in ninth after the opening day?s time trial, finished third in the punishing final push up the Tumble Mountain, Blaenavon, to beat Erick Rowsell (South East England) by just two seconds on overall classification.
But the unluckiest rider of the three days was new junior road race champion Peter Kennaugh (Isle of Man), who punctured on the hot Sunday afternoon stage from Bryn Bach Park, Tredegar, around the Welsh valleys to Rhymney.
Kennaugh was leading the Tour at the time, but that puncture put him two minutes behind. He eventually clawed back a minute to give himself a fighting chance on the next day?s final leg.
A group of eight broke away in the closing miles of the 62-mile final stage from Nantyglo, but that was down to the top three by the time they reached the bottom of the fearsome Tumble.
Kennaugh attacked repeatedly but could not break the other two and had only a two second advantage at the finish line.
?I thought I had to chase Johnny and Erick hard at the bottom and have a go, because I was so far behind,? he said. ?I put in a strong attack, but they were both attacking up there. But it was a good race, full on and positive.?
Just a few weeks earlier, another former Junior Tour of Wales winner, David Millar, claimed his first senior national road title so that bodes well for McEvoy, who said: ?I was just watching those two on the final stage. I didn?t really want to win – just stay with them because of the time gap.?
Kennaugh led the Tour through the first two days, having taken the opening time trial and the second 52-mile stage from Brynmawr to Llangynidr mountain on Saturday afternoon.
Rowe claimed the third stage, a closed circuit road race around a three-kilometre course of Bryn Bach Park, before that fourth-stage puncture threw the cat among the pigeons to set up the thrilling finale.
RIS Junior Tour of Wales (Nantyglo, South Wales).-
1 Johnny McEvoy (Kinesis UK) 7-35-15
2 Erick Rowsell (SE England) at 2sec
3 Peter Kennaugh (Isle of Man A) at 37sec
4 Luke Rowe (Wales) at 1-26
5 Rhys Lloyd (Liverpool Mercury RC) at 2-40
6 Matt Jones (In Gear Development) at 4-20