Team Qoroz rider Ben Stockdale has won the Perfs Pedal Race, the traditional curtain-raiser on the British domestic calendar.
After a race ridden in driving rain, the youngster outsprinted Nicolas Hutchings (CS Gruppetto) and defending champion Will Bjergfelt (Motorpoint) on the sharp drag to the finish to register the best win of his fledgling career.
“I’m really happy, it’s a great start to the season and shows that the training is paying off,” Stockdale told Cycling Weekly.
Meanwhile, on his return to racing, Magnus Backstedt spent most of the day either in the breakaway or on the front of the pack, before fading to finish tenth, at the back of the leading group. His UK Youth team ultimately couldn’t turn their numerical advantage into a winning debut.
“That’s kind of my style, riding on the front,” he said after the race. “But I enjoyed it.”
The racing cobwebs weren’t so much blown as washed away on the southern coast. Even for typical Perfs fare, it was a grim day to be racing, with teeming rain, huge puddles hiding potholes and muck coating kit and faces.
With a dissertation due next month and university exams, it was a great result for sport and exercise student Stockdale. “Magnus went early and I thought that was race over; but some of us, like Yanto, didn’t want to let it go and we all came back across. It split with two laps to go and we were cruising around in the end, waiting for the sprint,” he said.
“Normally people who win the Perfs have done a lot, but I’ve done one interval session this year. I’m a bit surprised myself, but it shows I’ve wintered well and could build on this good base fitness,” Stockdale said.
In all, it’s been a great weekend for burgeoning Team Qoroz – which acts as the SW Bike Academy – and the Stockdale brothers. “I got a 1-2 at the Upavon Series yesterday and let my brother [Tom] have the win, so it was my turn today,” he added.
As for the inclement weather? “I go to university in Wales – a bit of rain is a good day there,” he joked.
Stockdale adds his name to a prestigious Perfs Pedal palmares that includes Sean Yates, Tim Harris, Chris Newton and Alex Dowsett.
While he may not have defended his title, ride of the day goes to Motorpoint debutant Will Bjergfelt. After puncturing with three laps to go, he closed the gap solo, into a headwind, had the legs to make it into the final selection and almost nicked the win.
46th Perfs Pedal Race, Southwick, 46 miles: Results
1. Ben Stockdale (Team Qoroz)
2. Nicolas Hutchings (CS Gruppetto)
3. Will Bjergfelt (Motorpoint Pro Cycling Team)
4. Yanto Barker (Pendragon-Colnago-Le Col)
5. Dave McLean (Pasta Montegrappa)
6. Matt Green (VLTechnics-Abutriek)
7. Martin Ford (Mammoth Lifestyle RT)
8. Niklas Gustavsson (Team UK Youth)
9. Chris McNamara (Team Corley Cycles-Cervelo)
10. Magnus Backstedt (Team UK Youth)