Cuminestown’s Neah Evans suspects the Tour Series women won’t get a better race than last night’s in Aberdeen for the rest of the competition.
Evans, who took silver and bronze medals from last month’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia for Team Scotland, returned to the north-east to compete for Storey Racing – the first time the tour has taken a women’s elite race to the Granite City.
She was unlucky not to finish in the top three, coming fifth, 2.295 seconds behind winner Nikki Juniper, of NJC-Biemme-Echelon, as part of a breakaway group formed near the start of the race.
Speaking after the race – the third instalment of a tour which has already visited Redditch and Motherwell, Evans said: “So far it’s been the best race so far and I suspect it will be for the whole series.”
Juniper triumphed in 44:44:331, with Rebecca Durrell, Evans’ team-mate, just 0.157secs behind, Jess Roberts of Team Breeze in third and Charlotte Broughton of Admiral LIV AWOL fourth.
The lead group cycled 23 laps in total and pulled away from the rest of the field early on.
Juniper also cemented her position at the top of the tour sprint standings, winning all three of the sprint laps around Aberdeen city centre to take 15 points and increase her tally to 37 overall.
Evans’ team-mate Durrell recorded the fastest lap of 1:50.421 as Storey Racing were the top team with a combined total for their five riders of 2:14:47.987, taking 10 points on the night, but staying third overall.
Team Breeze remain the green jersey holders, though, with their second-placed team finish on the night leaving them on 29 points. NJC-Biemme-Echelon remain second.
Evans, who had two second-place finishes in the sprint laps, was pleased with her showing on the “technical” course, after harming her sprinting ability with a crash in Motherwell on Tuesday.
She said: “(I’m) Fairly happy. My positioning for the final lap was a bit off.
“I should have just stayed on the front and kept the pressure on, but I tried to ease off and see if I could sprint.
“But there was just nothing there.
“It was a nice night, the weather was fantastic.
“I’m telling everybody this is what it is normally like in Aberdeen.
“They’re not believing me.”
She was particularly complimentary of the north-east fans, saying her fellow racers felt the same: “It was nice, everyone is saying the crowds were really good and I’d agree.
“It’s good to hear a familiar accent.”
Victorious Juniper, who said her team had all piled into one car to get to Aberdeen, said: “I started the Tour Series in 2015 and this is the first time I’ve won a race.
“I’ve won the sprinter’s jersey twice and I’ve won the overall – I’ve pretty much always podiumed.
“But this is my first win here in Aberdeen so there are a lot of emotions.”
Evans will drop out of the tour for the next couple of races, with only five riders from each team required for each stage.
Age group events whet spectators’ appetites
A packed afternoon of cycling got the Granite City crowds warmed up for the evening’s elite races.
Age-group contests took place first, with each race broken down into more precise age categories at the finish.
In the under-16s race, the participants were divided into U16s and U15s, with two podiums.
The U10s set off first at noon, with Dean Fearn (category D) the fastest of the boys, who completed the course in a total time of 17 minutes and 31.805 seconds.
Finn Crowther of Edinburgh RC was second, with Innes Long, of Deeside Thistle, 1:42.770 behind in third, while in the girls’ category D, Deeside filled the top three places, with Hope Thomson, Melanie Rowe and Jessica Booth.
In the boys’ E category, Deeside’s Sebastian Blackburn finished behind Micah Miles, with Josh Sharp third, but the club’s Zara Main won the girls’ category E in a time of 17: 48.988 ahead of the Tweedies – Katy and Libbie.
Deeside’s Archie Marshall Dawson and Daniel Harnden were behind Grampian Tigers’ Callum McGillivary in the U12s, but the club’s Arabella Blackburn finished ahead of Molly Evans (Grampian) and clubmate Sasha Harnden.
At U16s level, the north-east’s highest placed rider in the boys’ category A was Alexander MacLeod, in 49.326secs behind winner Daniel Kain of Squadra Scozzese, with Fraser Gault of Edinburgh RC second.
Erin Murphy, of Deeside Thistle, won the girls’ category A in 28:26.393, with another Deeside one, two, three – of Evie White, Isla Long and Ailsa Long – making up the girls’ category G rankings.
Calum Smith, Noah Fontaine and Jamie Liversidge of Deeside formed the boys category B podium as well.