Emma Jeffers and Lewis Askey claimed their first elite national titles at the 2024 Lloyds Bank National Circuit Championships, showcasing dominant performances in Darlington.

Women’s race

The tight Darlington circuit demanded precision, with riders vying for prime positions from the start. Within the first 10 minutes, Sophie Lewis and Emma Jeffers made the initial break. However, their lead was short-lived as they were soon caught. Jenny Holl attempted a solo attack but was also reeled back.

Sophie Lewis then seized an opportunity, establishing an eight-second lead before being caught. As the race continued, a cautious approach prevailed among the riders, preventing any significant breakaways. Monica Greenwood later led a group including Esther Wong and Lucy Lee, but the bunch regrouped with five laps remaining. Maddie Leech and Amy Gornall attempted to take control, yet the race remained tightly packed entering the final lap.

In a dramatic finish, Eilidh Shaw found herself briefly in the lead, but 19-year-old Jeffers surged past with a powerful final burst to secure her first national title. Isabel Darvill secured third place, with Greenwood and Alice Colling following closely behind.

“It feels amazing. Honestly it means everything, especially in the crit as that’s what made me fall in love with cycling. It’s really nice. I loved the course and the fans made it even better. I’m lost for words, I can’t believe it!” said a jubilant Jeffers after her victory.

Gold for Emma Jeffers of Liv AlUla Jayco, Silver for Eilidh Shaw of Alba Development Road Team and Bronze for Isabel Darvill of Doltcini – O’Shea

Open race

The open race featured 70 riders, including a strong showing from Groupama-FDJ’s Sam Watson, Lewis Askey, and Noah Hobbs. Watson and Rob Scott quickly established a gap, joined by Askey, putting them in a dominant position.

As their lead grew to 20 seconds, former champion Matt Bostock attempted to bridge the gap, but it only widened to 36 seconds. Efforts from Max Rushby, Daniel Barnes, and Bostock picked up the pace, yet coordination issues hindered their progress.

Askey then launched a decisive attack, leaving Scott unable to respond and gaining a 13-second lead. Watson, unwilling to close the gap on his teammate, fell back into the chasing bunch. Askey maintained his lead, securing victory with ease. Matt Walls and Hobbs completed the podium, rounding off a successful night for Groupama-FDJ.

“It’s incredible. I really wanted to do well this weekend, and it’s perfect going into the weekend and shows the form is there. I’ve been feeling good the last few weeks and I really wanted to show what I could do today. To bring it home, it’s been a while, so feels great,” Askey expressed.

“It’s always incredible to win a race and to have a stripey jumper at the end of it makes it so special,” he added.

Lewis Askey of Groupama-FDJ wins the Open National Circuit title

The championships will conclude on Sunday with the road races in Saltburn, where thousands are expected to cheer on the riders as they tackle the iconic Saltburn Bank climb. For those unable to attend, British Cycling will stream the event live on YouTube and Discovery+.

All photo credits: SWpix.com