Matt Woods has vowed to return to the Perfs Pedal next season and make the most of his Portsdown Hill education.
The Loughborough University student was caught out on the second lap of the 51st running of the traditional season-opening road race.
I really appreciate the award. And it is really nice for the race to be able to honour them in this wayMatt Woods
As Pedal Heaven put the hammer down at the foot of the climb, the Performance Cycles rider found himself too far back in the bunch.
But despite missing the split and having to settle in to the second group on the road, the 20-year-old battled on to clinch the award for the best-placed second category finisher from the south region.
Woods, who lives in Marlborough, was provisionally placed 14th.
And that was enough to see him take the honour which remembers James Atherton and Richard Phillips-Schofield, who both died while riding their bikes.
Woods was delighted to pick up the award, particularly as he has a friendly rivalry with the University of Southampton – where Atherton was studying for a PhD.
‘One of the riders was a University of Southampton student,’ said the Wiltshire racer.
‘I’m at Loughborough and they are our big rivals in the team pursuit on the track.
‘So it feels quite an honour to win this. I really appreciate the award.
‘And it is really nice for the race to be able to honour them in this way.’
While he was proud to collect some reward for his efforts, Woods still wondered what might have been.
‘Unfortunately I was too far back at the start and I missed the split,’ he said.
‘It was so windy at the top of the climb, I just knew I couldn’t get across.
‘It was a real shame because I felt really good.
‘I have done a lot of work on my climbing this winter, so to watch that gap go was a bit demoralising.
‘I just had to reset my aspirations in the race.
‘I was just at the front of the second group, so I got what I could out of it.’
Woods will now refocus on the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) team pursuit championship.
But he enjoyed getting out on the road and is determined to make the most of his winter graft before signing off from his studies.
Woods said: ‘I have had a really good winter and I just want to use that a bit more this year.
‘I want to get out and do more races.
‘This race was a shame but there are lots more opportunities coming up.
‘I’m just excited to see how I go.
‘I had never ridden the Perfs Pedal before.
‘It was great. And it would have been even better if I had known to be further up on that first climb!
‘I think I might have to come back next year.
‘I graduate in the summer, so I am not too sure what I will be doing.
‘But if the weather is going to be like this every year, why wouldn’t I come back?’