Peter Kennaugh outsprints Ben Swift to claim British national road race title in Wales
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 29/06/14 7:01pm
Peter Kennaugh out-sprinted his Team Sky team-mate Ben Swift to claim victory in a pulsating British men’s national road race in Wales.
The duo were well clear of the field heading into a flat final 1km and although Swift was favourite to prevail, Kennaugh produced a stunning late burst to claim the national champion’s jersey for the first time.
It is the second year in succession that the title has been won by a rider from the Isle of Man, following Mark Cavendish’s triumph 12 months ago, and was Team Sky’s fourth victory in the race in five years.
Simon Yates, of Orica-GreenEdge, took the final place on the podium after fighting valiantly to stay with the Team Sky duo but ultimately being dropped with around 15km remaining.
Kennaugh, who finished second in 2008 and 2010 and third in 2009 and 2011, said afterwards: “It was amazing. I couldn’t believe it when I was coming around him to the line. It felt surreal. I have done so many training sprints with Swifty and he just leaves me, but today was my day obviously.
'One of the best'
“I have got so many fantastic memories of the nationals and of cycling, like Alpe d’Huez last year at the Tour [de France], finishing on the Champs-Elysees and obviously the Olympic Games, but I think because I have been so close to this for so many years now, it’s got to be one of the best.”
The 186km race started in Abergavenny and after taking in a hilly loop around Monmouthshire, the riders returned to Abergavenny for ten laps of a 7.2km circuit around the town.
After an early initial breakaway had been caught, a new eight-man escape group formed comprising of Team Sky quartet Kennaugh, Swift, Luke Rowe and Josh Edmondson, Orica-GreenEdge twins Simon and Adam Yates, Madison Genesis’ Scott Davies and Raleigh’s Mark Christian.
An attack from Simon Yates dropped his brother, Davies and Christian, but he failed to shed any of the Team Sky riders and was consequently faced with the unerring prospect of riding the rest of the route in a four-against-one scenario.
He managed to survive a first wave of attacks that saw Edmondson and Rowe dropped, but could not hang on when Kennaugh injected fresh pace just before the start of the penultimate lap.
I knew that maybe with the last 200m downhill, if you come with a bit of speed you stand a chance, so I remained positive and just gave it my best shot.
That set up a shootout between the two Team Sky riders and, knowing he was the weaker sprinter, Kennaugh repeatedly tried and failed to distance Swift on the uphill sections of the final circuit.
It appeared his hopes were over, but after allowing Swift to lead out the sprint, he emerged from his friend’s slipstream and moved ahead inside the final 25m.
Kennaugh added: “Working with Swifty on the last lap, it is always hard with such a good mate to play those tactics of sitting on for almost the whole of the last lap.
“Once I tried my luck with the attacks on the climbs and he was still with me, I thought it was game over. I knew that maybe with the last 200m downhill, if you come with a bit of speed you stand a chance, so I remained positive and just gave it my best shot.”
1 Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky), 4:25:01
2 Ben Swift (Team Sky), +1secs
3 Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), +1:09
4 Luke Rowe (Team Sky), +1:38
5 Josh Edmondson (Team Sky), +4:01