VIRGIN Active’s Ian Knight continued a successful comeback season with victory at the Worcester News Road Race.
Organised and marshalled by Worcester St John’s Cycling Club, a full field of 80 riders set out for 125 kilometres over six laps of the Severn Stoke course.
Knight took victory from Tony Gibb and Simon Wilson, who were representing cyclepremier.com-Metaltek.
Knight collected the Worcester News trophy, presented every year since 1958 to the winner of the summer classic.
He joined a list of notable past winners, including Bradley Wiggins, Matt Stephens, Steve Farrell and Darryl Webster.
The former elite rider found the experience “surreal” as he chalked up a third win of his comeback season after 12 years out of the sport.
A first category licence beckons for Knight, who said: “I really did not know what to expect at the start of the year, I am absolutely made up.”
On the second lap of the Worcester News race, the break that would dominate the event escaped the bunch over the Severn Stoke climb.
On the descent from the hill a few miles later, a runaway horse hindered the chasing bunch, requiring the race to be stopped.
When the race re-started, the 17-man break, including a few riders who cunningly made it across in the confusion, were credited with a 25-second headstart over the bunch.
The gap remained the same throughout the race as the break was too large to work smoothly.
The bunch was led along at a good pace by a band of sacrificial workers, most notably Ben Anstie, of Chippenham Wheelers, who gave his all to the chase.
With two miles to go, Gibb and Knight escaped and gained a few hundred metres that was enough to allow them to fight out the win up the final climb of Severn Stoke.
Knight hung on to win by a length as Gibb finished runner-up for the second consecutive year.
Five seconds later, 2009 winner Wilson led in the remains of the break with junior rider Matt Bailey finishing a creditable fourth.
The bunch sprint was won by Ian Rees, of Wilier/Big Maggys, just catching the tail end of the break for 14th place.
Gibb was pleased with his team’s efforts to split the race but disappointed he did not quite have the legs to secure the victory.
Team-mate Wilson was pleased to celebrate his 30th birthday with third place — a fine follow-up to his win the previous year.