Agony for Smith as National Champs dream snatched away

PUBLISHED: 12:24 11 July 2019

Verulam Reallymoving's Will Smith attacks the field at the National Championships up the feared Oliver's Mount in Scarborough.

Verulam Reallymoving's Will Smith attacks the field at the National Championships up the feared Oliver's Mount in Scarborough.

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Verulam Reallymoving's Will Smith has vowed to go one better after a heartbreaking finish to the National Championship.

Will Smith of Verulam Reallymoving cycling team stands on the podium alongside new national champion Finlay Pickering and third place Max Poole (right).Will Smith of Verulam Reallymoving cycling team stands on the podium alongside new national champion Finlay Pickering and third place Max Poole (right).

Racing in the U16 race over the notoriously-tough Oliver's Mount course in Scarborough, Smith, who is only in his first year at the age category, looked set to wear the famous British bands after attacking from the field with four laps to go.

The talented youngster has been impressing with his performances this season and this would have been the biggest win so far in what is certain to be an excellent career.

But with victory in sight he was finally hunted down by Finlay Pickering of Vive Le Velo, being caught just 50 metres from the line.

However, despite the obvious disappointment he was still delighted with his own performance.

The top 11 in the U16 race at the 2019 National Championship with Verulam Reallymoving's Will Smith (standing, left) who took second.The top 11 in the U16 race at the 2019 National Championship with Verulam Reallymoving's Will Smith (standing, left) who took second.

He said: "I am so pleased with how I did because of the sheer calibre of riders there but I can't help think how close I came to getting the National Champs jersey, as a first year U16.

"I was the only first year in the top 12 and can't wait to try and fight for the National Champs next year."

The race itself was as brutal as expected with the savage climb up the mount, with its average gradient of 11 per cent and peaks at 17, taking its toll on the field.

But Smith's attack up the slopes was almost something out of nothing.

He said: "I was moving up the outside and then pushed on a bit. I didn't attack but when nobody followed I tried to get as big gap as I could."

The gap on the first lap was 30 seconds and it had gone out to 45 seconds on the fifth time up the hill.

"It never crossed my mind that I could win it because my legs weren't feeling too good for the whole race," admitted Smith, who had to dig deep into his reserves when he caught sight of Pickering hunting him down.

"I held him off on the climb and I still had distance on him with 300 metres to go but he had me in his sights and I was dying after 20km on my own out front.

"He passed me with 50 metres to go and took the win. I came in second a minute ahead of the third placed."

Smith wasn't the only one from the St Albans team in action.

Jamie Maxen also raced in the U16 race while Beth Watson took part in the U14s.

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