i-Team juniors make flying start with two top-10 finishes

Victoria Lovett, centre, with the i-Team junior racing development squad. Picture: Sarah Standing (151998-6275)
Victoria Lovett, centre, with the i-Team junior racing development squad. Picture: Sarah Standing (151998-6275)
  • Lovett confirmed eighth in crit race in Abingdon
  • McNaughton sprints to ninth in men’s battle
  • Watson delighted with the early signs from new squad
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Victoria Lovett launched her maiden senior campaign in style by sprinting to eighth place in the opening round of the Abingdon Airfield Winter Crit Series on Saturday.

The 16-year-old, from Horndean, is a member of i-Team’s new seven-strong junior racing development squad.

Harvey McNaughton. Picture: Sarah Standing (151998-6328)

Harvey McNaughton. Picture: Sarah Standing (151998-6328)

And the South Downs College student put down a marker for the road season ahead with a fine result in grim conditions in Oxfordshire.

Her team-mates Nick Kimish, Joe Clark, Jack Noble and TJ Nel then led out Harvey McNaughton to finish ninth in the men’s category two race.

Team manager Guy Watson said: ‘The lads rode the second cat race for training.

‘After lots of attacking riding, they switched to leading out Harvey for the sprint.

With Victoria now confirmed eighth in her race, it’s a 100-per-cent record for scoring points so far

Guy Watson

‘It didn’t quite go to plan but Harvey got ninth.

‘And with Victoria now confirmed eighth in her race, it’s a 100-per-cent record for scoring points so far.’

The junior race team was launched in December, with the support of Moda Bikes and Albert Road-based Southsea Cycles, along with the backing of generous patrons.

Lovett & Co have been getting stuck into their winter training ahead of what promises to be an exciting campaign.

And Watson, who has recently struck a deal for the team to test Schwalbe tyres this season, is delighted with what he has seen so far.

‘What is really important for me is what happens when the coaching or racing has finished,’ he said.

‘Do they just jump in their cars and go home?

‘Well these guys all hang around chatting to each other. They all get on really, really well and that is the secret.

‘It is not just about ability, sometimes the combination is just right. It creates an atmosphere that is quite inspiring, even as a coach.

‘I love how they all get on so well and that suggests this season is going to be great fun.

‘There are a few of them who are brilliant on their day but a little inconsistent. And there are a few who are just on their way up.

‘But if it all comes together, it will be very, very exciting.’

The second round of the four-race Abingdon Airfield Winter Crit Series takes place on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Perfs Pedal – the annual curtain-raiser for the British road racing campaign – will be hosted by VC St Raphael on the the same day.

The 46-mile race, which attracts some of the best domestic talent, will feature five ascents of Portsdown Hill before finishing at Hundred Acre Wood.

Don’t miss The News – online and in print – on Friday for all the build-up to the big race.