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BC North West Division Road Race Championship

Bole Hill, June 1, 2003 80 miles

By Carl Lawrenson

Mark Lovatt of Life Repair CRT was the emphatic victor in Sunday’s British Cycling North West Division Road Race Championships over 80 miles at Bole Hill near Buxton.

From a disappointing entry of just 49 riders - less than half of whom would complete the race - Lovatt and his team mate John Tanner were strong favourites even before the start. An early attack from eventual bronze medallist Andrew Yates of MK Cycles was joined after just 7 miles by a group of 8 including Lovatt, Ian Wilkinson (Science In, David McGowan (BC Private Member), Lee Cowell (Ribble Valley CRC) and Matt Sewell (Southport CC).

Neil Swithenbank (MK Cycles) set off in pursuit of the leading group who had quickly pulled out over a minute on the main field. The second ascent of Bole Hill saw the surprise retirement of Tanner and defending champion Gary Adamson (Ridley Ritchey). Perhaps we were in for an unexpected result after all.

But the combination of the warm June sunshine and the gruelling roads of the Peak District began to take their toll on the rapidly fragmenting main field. By 24 miles the leader’s had 3 minutes on the remains of the peloton with Swithenbank stuck in no man’s land between the break and the main field. Soon the lead group began to split too, and Ian Wilkinson went away alone. Ominously though, Lovatt was just a handful of seconds behind him whilst the gap to the others was increasing rapidly. With less than half distance covered Lovatt and Wilkinson came together and the chasers were now over a minute down.

Meanwhile the rest of the race were facing the very real prospect of falling outside the 10 minute cut-off on the final lap. With 4 laps to go it was time for Mark Lovatt to stamp his authority on the race. Wilkinson had no answer as the Life Repair rider attacked. As he sped through Water Swallows - scene of his unprecedented 5 consecutive victories in the Tour of the Peak - Lovatt had a minute on Wilkinson and just 6 riders would survive to contest the final lap.

Though the gap would be measured in minutes rather than seconds now, a one - two for Lovatt and Wilkinson was assured, with Yates set to take third place. Though not contesting the medals, the battle for the title of Merseyside Area Road Race Champion was being contested in the next group on the road with David McGowan eventually getting the better of Matt Sewell on the line.

Results, E1/2, 80 miles

1 M Lovatt (Life Repair CRT)                3.36.51
2 I Wilkinson (Science In           4.45
3 A Yates (MK Cycles)                          9.36
4 D McGowan (BC Private Member)               10.12
5 L Cowell (Ribble Valley CRC)                10.19
6 M Sewell (Southport CC)                     11.27
7 N Swithenbank (MK Cycles)                   13.31
8 J Vernon (Birkenhead North End)             13.38
9 J Henderson (Southport CC)                  13.53
10 C Zanettacci (Leisure Lakes RT)            14.02
11 B Pool (Andersons Racing)
12 S Wilson (Life Repair CRT)
13 S Feeney (Chester RC)                      16.01
14 M Turnbull (Leigh Premier)                 16.25
15 A Dalgleish (Lune CC)                   at 1 lap
16 D Ebbrell (Blackburn & District CTC)
17 L Davies
18 I Stott (Blackburn & District CTC)
19 N McCormack (Chester RC)
20 P Feeney (Chester RC)
21 A Murphy (MK Cycles)
22 L Feeney (Chester RC) 

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