Back-to-back wins for fast-improving Saunders

TEENAGER Josh Saunders is emerging as a real powerhouse on the domestic road race scene.

Josh Saunders, second from right in the black outfit, won his second race in the space of a week in the Liberation Day Road Race. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29528007)
Josh Saunders, second from right in the black outfit, won his second race in the space of a week in the Liberation Day Road Race. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29528007)

The U18 rider won the Liberation Day Road Race at L’Eree to show that his milestone victory at the Reservoir, just six days earlier and with a depleted Division One, was no fluke.

Quite the contrary.

Almost all the usual suspects were there this time and with 12 riders in it at the bell of the six-lap scratch race, he needed a potent trump card to distinguish himself.

That came in the form of an excellent sprint.

He unleashed a blistering finish at Rocquaine to wrap it up in 1hr 55min. 34sec. and edge two of Guernsey’s leading road riders – Marc Cox and James Roe.

Before then, it was simply a case of sticking with the bunch.

The scratch race dynamic meant that several Division Two riders joined the top dogs for most of the journey, and the pace was relatively modest, with a prevailing headwind for the coastal part of each 7.8-mile lap.

Mike Serafin made several attacks, as did keen climber Jack Reed, but the pack remained largely together – and that was just what Saunders needed.

He crossed the line 1.2sec. ahead of powerhouse Cox, with Roe edging the final podium spot from Matt Osborn, Andy Gibson and Tony Bleasdale, all within 4sec.

The youngster credited former Madison Genesis professional Tobyn Horton, his coach for nearly a year now, for his remarkable improvements.

‘I’m very happy. I’m really pleased to just make it around with that lot,’ he said.

‘Tobyn has helped out so much as well with my riding, tactically and physically.

‘It was just that sprint.

‘I want to try and get a couple more [wins], just keep racing, keep enjoying it.’

Meanwhile, a close finish between the top trio of women made for a worthy highlight in the three-lap alternative.

Island Games rider Dani Hanley returned to racing and sprinted to women’s honours in 1-09-17.2, albeit just a tick ahead of two triathletes.

Magda Murphy and Sammy Yendell followed within the next 2sec.

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