First-year junior Lewis Askey followed in Tom Pidcock's footsteps to make it two wins in a row for Great Britain in the junior edition of Paris-Roubaix, after out-sprinting breakaway partner Samuele Manfredi (Italy) in the famous Roubaix velodrome on Sunday.
The 16-year-old, who rides for Backstedt-Hotchillee as well as the GB Junior Academy, attacked a much depleted peloton with around 35km to ride, taking the Italian with him. The pair swapped turns all the way to Roubaix, fending off some concerted counter-attacking behind before Askey won the two-up sprint on the track.
"The Carrefour [de l’Arbre] was so hard,” Askey said. “It came back to 15 seconds at one point and then yeah, I gave it everything to the line and managed to outsprint the guy.”
It was only with around three kilometres to go that he started to believe in victory, he said: "Up to that point it was just give it everything and hope hope hope I was getting to the velodrome."
Fellow Team GB rider Samuel Watson - another first year junior - came in eighth.
Team coach Stuart Blunt described the day’s "in-between" conditions as a real challenge, especially for younger, less experienced riders.
"If it’s raining then it’s raining and you know what you’re getting, everybody rides accordingly. If it’s dry it’s dusty, and they ride accordingly," he said. "The problem we had today was that kind of greasy surface. It’s unpredictable."
Tom Pidcock’s win last year did their confidence no harm, admitted Blunt, but cautioned: “What these boys don’t lack is confidence sometimes they have have to be reined in a bit. They don’t lack belief in themselves.
"It’s nice to win, but I’m pleased with the way they’ve conducted themselves. They always take pride in how they conduct themselves at races, how they operate as a unit."
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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields.
Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.
A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now in the past, although that doesn't stop him banging on tirelessly about "that one time" he nearly rode a 20-minute '10', and planning the big comeback that everyone knows will never actually happen.
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