Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International) showed no sign of tiredness from last week’s Friends Life Women’s Tour as she all but lapped the field when winning the opening round of this year’s Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series.

The Team Pursuit world champion set out her stall by winning the opening sprint lap after just five laps of racing and, although she didn’t have it all her own way in the opening laps,  was never really headed from that point onwards.
 
Fifty three riders lined up in Stoke for the Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series, what is now arguably the key focus of the women’s domestic racing scene and the quality field included Archibald’s multi-Paralympic Gold medal winning team-mate Sarah Storey and this year’s World cyclo-cross bronze medallist Helen Wyman (Matrix Fitness – Vulpine).
 
Soon after Archibald won the opening sprint the field split with a group of over 20 riders pulling clear from the splintering peloton and soon that group was fracturing into even smaller groups. 
 
And such was the speed at the front of the race that back-markers were being lapped after just 20 minutes racing.  
 
Archibald continued to pile on the pressure and when winning the second sprint of the night second place Louise Mahe (Team MuleBar Girl Sigma Sport) was the length of the finishing straight behind the determined Scot.
 
Sarah Storey, Jessie Walker (Matrix Fitness – Vulpine) and Eileen Roe (Starley Primal Pro Cycling) were next in combining to chase Archibald and, although clearly racing for second place on the night, entertained the large crowd that lined the circuit.
 
But their pursuit was in vain because, as Archibald crossed the finishing line the clear winner on the night, the group chasing second place were in her sights and she would surely have lapped them if the race had continued for another lap.
 
Coming out of the final corner, Roe jumped past Walker to win the sprint for second place but Storey also passed the youngster to take third place.
 
It was a clean sweep for Katie and her Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International team-mates as in addition to her solo win, Katie also picked up the Combativity, contributed to the team prize and won the Sprints jersey, a real Tour de Force.
 
Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)“To be honest that was really a bit of an accident to win like that.  Sarah was drilling it on the front and I came up to take a turn and a gap appeared and I thought “balls, I’ve got to stay now”.  It was a little more work than I was setting out to do when I left home this morning but, yes, it was a good effort.
 
“I had yesterday completely off after the Tour so I was still suffering a bit which is why I wasn’t really expecting to come here and do that.  I wanted to keep the pace high and perhaps go for the sprints but once I’d got the gap I guess I was thinking ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’. 
 
“It’s great to get the other prizes as well.  We’re looking as a team to get that prize at the end of the Series so I was really here to do some work for them but my eye was on the Sprints jersey so that’s great.  I’ll be doing the Edinburgh round but otherwise this year my focus is on the Commonwealths”.

 
Eileen Roe (Starley Primal Pro Cycling)“Jessie Walker took up the final sprint and Helen Wyman was in there as well making it two Matrix riders at that point.  I think Jessie made the first move to lead the way for Helen if she faded.  But when Jessie went I kicked with her and I then jumped her as we came out of the bottom corner and I just held it from there.
 
“I’m really pleased with that.  It’s great to come away with that especially as I was driving for four hours to get here from Scotland this morning.
 
“My target for the year is to get to the Commonwealths where I’m hoping to qualify for both the road and track.  On the track I’ll be aiming for the Points and Scratch races”.

 
Jon Johnston (Managing Director of Johnson Health Tech)“That demonstration by Katie was really fantastic.  Stoke is always a very hard circuit and you often get a lone winner but I think she won by a much bigger distance than in previous years.
 
“Four years ago we started with the Horizon Fitness GP and we’ve now changed the lead sponsorship to the Matrix brand but it’s the same sponsors, the same backers all the way through.
 
“The way the women’s field has grown over that four years is exactly what we wanted to see and last week at the Tour was really the culmination of that.  In some ways this is a better race in that it’s more about the grass roots, a completely domestic field but this is the sort of progress we really wanted to see”.
 

Race Result
1) Katie Archibald, GBR, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
2) Eileen Roe, GBR, Starley Primal Pro Cycling
3) Sarah Storey, GBR, Pearl Izumi Sports Tour International
4) Natalie Creswick, GBR, Team MuleBar Girl Sigma Sport
5) Helen Wyman, GBR, Matrix Fitess Vulpine
6) Jessie Walker, GBR, Matrix Fitness Vulpine
7) Katie Curtis, GBR, Starley Primal Pro Cycling
8) Charline Joiner, GBR, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
9) Louise Mahe, GBR, Team MuleBar Girl Sigma Sport
10) Amy Roberts, GBR, Wiggle Honda

Round One Sprint Winner: Katie Archibald, GBR, Pearl Izumi Sports Tour International
Round One Team Winner: Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International

Overall Individual Standings, post-Round One
1) Katie Archibald, GBR, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, 20pts
2) Eileen Roe, GBR, Starley Primal Pro Cycling, 19pts
3) Sarah Storey, GBR, Pearl Izumi Sports Tour International, 18pts
4) Natalie Creswick, GBR, Team MuleBar Girl Sigma Sport, 17pts
5) Helen Wyman, GBR, Matrix Fitess Vulpine, 16pts

Overall Sprint Standings, post-Round One
1) Katie Archibald, GBR, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, 10pts
2) Louise Mahe, GBR, Team MuleBar Girl Sigma Sport, 7pts
3) Helen Wyman, GBR, Matrix Fitness Vulpine, 4pts

Overall Team Standings, post-Round One
1) Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, 51pts
2) Matrix Fitness Vulpine, 41pts
3) Starley Primal Pro Cycling, 37pts