RISING cycling star Joe Evans has been crowned Isle of Man Junior Tour champion.
The Thomas Alleyne’s sixth form pupil won by just six seconds from Matthew Bostock, and was a further two seconds ahead of pre-event favourite Matthew Gibson.
His HARIBO Beacon Race Team also came out tops in the team competition – by just four seconds – and Evans was quick to pay tribute to his supporting cast.
Evans said: “The last couple of laps were so hard and the guys in the team worked so hard to get me over the line still in first.
“It was nerve-wracking. We knew it was close but we were well happy when they confirmed I’d won – and we held on in the other categories too. Brilliant!”
The three-stage event, which is part of the from National Junior Road Race Series, ran from Friday to Sunday.
The first stage took the form of a 1.5k time-trial, with riders battling against the clock to record the fastest time they can.
Evans started as one of the favourites and was disappointed to come home 14th out of a field in excess of 80 riders.
The Great Britain youth Team cyclist clocked one minute, 43 secons – but the short nature of the first stage left him only six seconds behind time-trial winner Gibson.
Saturday’s second stage featured 11 hilly laps over a 9.3k curcuit around Peel on the west coast of the island.
Evans went clear as part of an eight-man breakaway on the second lap, with the group riding well to build an advantage which peaked at just over one minute, 30 seconds from the chasing pack.
Gibson missed the break, giving the leading pack an additional incentive to work together.
Approaching the bell, Evans attacked on the penultimate ascent of the short but steep switchback climb which had the finish line at its summit.
His attack shattered the breakaway group and he held on to a three-second advantage for half of the last lap before four riders reeled Evans in.
On the final climb Evans attacked again – and this time there was no catching the Thomas Alleyne’s pupil.
He finished three seconds ahead of Alex Dalton (Squadra RT) and four seconds clear of Bostock (Team Isle of Man).
With a 10-second winning bonus the victory put Evans around 40 seconds ahead of the majority of the field, including the dangerous Gibson.
It also gave the Uttoxeter rider the yellow jersey for the final day’s and 92k road race around Ramsey in the north-east of the island – consisting of six 15k laps before finishing on the seafront.
Evans and the HARIBO Beacon Team knew they would have to contend with numerous attacks as other teams and riders tried to escape and steal the win – and so it turned out.
Gibson’s WD40 team attacked on every lap, with the three-man HARIBO Team at full stretch to keep the race under their control.
In a race that turned into a battle of attrition until last lap, Gibson made his move on the final climb of the day with one other rider.
They had pulled out a 45-second lead on the chasing bunch – headed by the three HARIBO Beacon riders – at one stage.
Evans and his teammates James Shaw and Thomas Baylis were starting to run out of gas.
But with one last effort over the final 5k they managed to close the gap to 20 seconds, with as Gibson taking the stage win.
That effort proved crucial as Evans claimed overall victory – and also the points classification crown for leading over the most laps.
Evans has no time to rest on his laurels after being selected for the Great Britain Junior Team to compete in the Nations Cup Junior Peace Race in the Czech Republic.
The five-stage race is described as one of the toughest in the junior calendar.