British National 20km Scratch Championship
ROUND four of the battle waged in recent years for supremacy over 20 kilometres went to Chris Newton (North Wirral VeloKodak), who regained the title he last held two years ago. Silver medallist in a pulsating finish was Anthony Stirrat (City of Edinburgh RC), the defending champion and winner back in 1992.
Newton, Stirrat and bronze medallist Bryan Steel (Team Chilwell) featured in a high-powered breakaway group that lapped the field. Fearing Stirrat's sprint finish, Newton escaped again and despite a determined pursuit by Stirrat stayed clear for victory.
`I've only got myself to blame,' said Stirrat afterwards, and indeed he had, for his City of Edinburgh RC team had held all the aces with no fewer than seven riders in the 30-man line-up for the final.
The field stayed together in a long line for the first half of the 60lap race. Then Steel launched an attack. It was quickly neutralised but a rapid counter-attack saw Steel go away again, this time with Newton for company. Stirrat sensed the danger and joined the leaders, together with his teammate Derek Smith and Richard Hughes (CC Abergavenny).
Last to bridge the gap was Chris Giles (TS Tameside), bringing the breakaway up to six-strong.
There was no catching the flying leaders who were reduced to five when Smith was dropped, leaving Stirrat with no team assistance in the break. Meanwhile the rest of the Edinburgh squad was sitting on the front of the bunch, blocking the chase until, with 11 laps to go, the break gained a lap.
The bunch was told to swing up the track, and the quintet was out in front once again.
Newton made his move with six laps to go. Creeping off the front, he led by the length of the straight before his former breakaway companions reacted and gave chase.
They were too late. Three laps from home Stirrat threw everything into a lone pursuit but Newton was unbeatable and still had enough in hand to start his victory salute as he came out of the final banking.
'I'd expected a sprint finish and put on a higher gear,' (92.6) he said. 'I'm delighted, because this is my first track race of the season,' added Newton, who has followed a hectic programme of road racing. `Now I'll be concentrating on the track with the aim of riding the world points race and team pursuit.'
Stirrat, who had no excuses, said: `I guess it's his turn this year, but just wait till the points race.'
Qualifiers - Heat 1: Anthony Stirrat (City of Edinburgh RC) 15km in 19-43.326; 2, C. Newton (North Wirral Velo); 3, P. Shuttleworth (Team Welwyn); at one lap: 4, P. Jacques (City of Edinburgh RC); 5, R. Hughes (CC Abergavenny); 6, N. Campbell (CC Lancs); 7, C. Richardson (Melton Olympic); 8, I. Berry (Concorde RCC); 9, A. Dallison (Harlow CC); 10, R. Kennedy (Newark Castle CC).
Heat 2: Adrian Allen (Harlow CC) 15km in 1928.39; 2, C. Giles (TS Tameside); 3, D. Downing (Jamor RT); 4, R. Craven (Scunthorpe Poly); 5, R. Williams (Geoffrey Butler); 6, C. Hoy (City of Edinburgh RC); 7, M. Phillips (Stoke AC); 8, J. Henderson (City of Edinburgh RC); 9, D. Smith (City of Edinburgh RC); 10, S. Kennedy (Newark Castle CC).
Heat 3: Pete Kennedy (Newark Castle CC) 15km in 19-37.870; 2, B. Steel (Team Chilwell); 3, J. Snodin (Rockingham Forest Wh.); 4, J. Taylor (Harlow CC); 5, C. Pyatt (Stoke AC); 6, L. Rowe (Leo RC); 7, N. Hall (City of Edinburgh RC); 8, G. Herd (City of Edinburgh RC); 9, A. Wallis (Olympia Sport); 10, A. Worthington (VC St Raphael).
1. Chris Newton (North Wirral Velo) 20km in 24-34.879