National Titles For Georgi and Perkins

Pfeiffer Georgi made it a hat-trick of national road race titles in the Saltburn sunshine, as the 2024 Lloyds Bank National Road Championships came to a close. Flora Perkins was the under-23 winner, joining this year’s other national champions in collecting the coveted red, white and blue national champion’s jersey.

Taking in the iconic Saltburn Bank climb, the women’s race was contested over five laps and 130km, as thousands descended on the seaside to see the winners crowned. The first break of the day was formed by Miriam Jessett (Loughborough Lightning), Sian Botteley (DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK) and Lizi Brooke (Pro-Noctis – 200º Coffee – Hargreaves Contracting), who quickly established a lead of a minute on the three chasers and two minutes on the peloton after the first lap.

The trio battled well throughout the first half of the race and built up a lead of more than four and a half minutes, but as the peloton sparked into life and the pace quickened, Jessett and Botteley were dropped by the defiant Brooke.

Brooke continued her time-trial to hold off the chasing peloton, and still enjoyed a considerable lead of 35 seconds as the race entered its final lap. However, with 33km to go Anna Henderson (TEAM VISMA – LEASE A BIKE) stepped up the pace, going past Brooke and splitting the peloton in two, with only 13 riders able to match the newly-crowned national time-trial champion’s pace.

As the reduced peloton scaled Saltburn Bank once again, Claire Steels (Movistar Team) surged off the front, closely followed by former champion Lizzie Deignan (Lidl-TREK). This whittled down the front group further to just nine riders, with two more former champions in Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL) and Alice Towers (CANYON // SRAM Generation) among them.

A mechanical on the climb looked to have ruled Steels out of contention, but some valiant riding alongside Frankie Hall (DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK) and Sophie Wright (Fenix-Deceuninck) saw them bridge back to the leaders to form a group of 11 as the race entered the final 20km.

With 11km to go, Elinor Barker (Uno-X Mobility) was the first to burst off the front, with Henderson following closely. While their effort briefly stretched the reduced peloton, the group managed to hold together, with Towers next to test their resolve with two attacks in quick succession.

It was Wright who was first to gain a significant gap, capitalising on some hesitancy in the bunch to quickly build a 16 second advantage. With the national champion’s jersey almost within reach in the final kilometres, disaster struck with a back wheel puncture at the worst possible moment to sadly take her out of the running.

As the group entered Saltburn for the final time, Georgi set a blistering pace on the final climb to the finish, which nobody could follow. Despite the best efforts of Henderson and Deignan, they were forced to settle for second and third respectively behind.

A brilliant finish saw Flora Perkins (Fenix-Deceuninck), Millie Couzens (Fenix-Deceuninck) and Towers take fourth, fifth and sixth on the road, and the top three places in the under-23 standings, while Hall kept pace with the front group superbly to take 10th place, and the highest finish of the British UCI Continental team riders.

After her win, Georgi said,

“It’s really special, I actually didn’t expect to win. I wasn’t feeling the best during the race. There was a lot of attacks and I was suffering. The team really supported me and Josie [Nelson] set me up perfectly. I just sprinted as hard as I could up the climb and I didn’t look back until the top. It’s just as special every time and it’s an honour to wear the jersey. National champs is always such a hard race to win with so many different dynamics. Once is hard, but to win it three times is really special.”

Perkins added,

“It feels really cool actually – my first national jersey! I’m just happy with the race in general, I’m pleased with the result and pleased with the performance.”

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