Team UK Youth dominated the opening event of the 2012 road campaign in Hampshire, the Perfs Pedal race, placing four riders in the top nine led by winner Chris Opie.
Due to become a dad on Wednesday, Opie had an early cause to celebrate as he powered clear on the finishing climb at Southwick to cross the line clear of Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4-Giordana) and Jonny McEvoy (Endura Racing) after 35 miles of racing controlled throughout by his Team UK Youth squad.
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With the temperature barely rising above zero and an overcast sky, the race was reduced from five laps of the Portsdown Hill course to four on roads which were largely dry but demanded caution in places.
The field began to break up in the opening miles with a quick pace set at the front, and the contenders had been cut to around half when Yanto Barker (Team UK Youth) made the first significant move, establishing a lead of around 20 seconds which he held for some eight miles.
Last year’s winner, Ben Stockdale (Metaltek-Scott) had to chase back after a crash as the race regrouped before James Stewart (Team UK Youth),the winner in 2008, went clear and gained a similar advantage to Barker.
It was all back together again going into the final lap with Team UK Youth at the front and David Clarke (Node4-Giordana) and McEvoy trying to keep things in check, but the leaders split again as Doug Dewey (Terra Footwear-Bicycle Line) attacked.
Eight riders pulled clear on the finishing climb and, with team-mates David McGowan and Fredrick Johansson for support, sprinter Opie, 24, got it just right to cross the line with something to spare.
“It all went to plan and it’s a great way to start,” said Opie, from Truro, in Cornwall. “We had a full team meeting last night and we rode spot on to how we agreed.”
Perfs Pedal Race 2012
1. Chris Opie (Team UK Youth)
2. Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4 Giordana)
3. Jonny McEvoy (Endura Racing)
4. David McGowan (Team UK Youth)
5. Erick Rowsell (Endura Racing)
6. Jonathan Dibben (Hargroves Cycles)
7. Fredrick Johansson (Team UK Youth)
8. Ben Simmons (Team Wiggle)
9. Yanto Barker (Team UK Youth)
10. Doug Dewey (Terra Footwear)