BENFLEET cycling veteran Jason White rolled back the years to outsprint his younger rivals and take a maiden win of 2014.
White, 41, was the first across the finish line in the 55th edition of The Wally Gimber Memorial road race to claim one of the biggest victories of his career.
The 81-mile race, which took through Tenterden, in Kent, saw a number of breakaways but White, who says he road “a very tactical race”, kept his cool to sprint clear of the bunch with the finish line in sight.
He said: “It was a really hard-fought win. The average speed was 30mph, and reached 40mph in places so it was very pleasing to win it after 20 years of trying.
“It was the biggest cycling race in the UK on that weekend so to come away with a win is a fantastic feeling.
“It is becoming more and more difficult to win races because of the competitive young teams so it is nice to know I can keep up.”
His achievement is made even more extraordinary by the fact that White is his own team. Whereas the other 79 were backed by a sponsor White remains unsigned – due to his commitment to his business JD Cycles – which he runs in London Road, Benfleet six days a week.
White joins a stellar list of past winners of the race, which include Olympic Time Trial champion and 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.
White has an impressive pedigree in the sport and has won more than 200 races on the road, time-trial and track. He also ended the 2011 season as the highest ranked rider in the UK with 19 elite road race wins that year.
Although he says he is unable to get out on the road as much as he would like because of his work commitments, he still clocks up the hours in his shop.
“One of the perks of working in a cycling shop is I have every excuse to cycle. I normally get to do an hour a day, but some of the guys I was competing against manage between 30-40 hours a week,” he said.
“It is great I can still be competitive and still have plenty to give in the old legs.”
White is planning on taking part in the 20th edition of the UCI Track Cycling Masters World Championships, held in Manchester in October, and this year’s Good Friday track meeting at Lee Valley VeloPark facility, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on April 18.
And the cycling fanatic says he will be keeping a close eye on this summer’s Tour de France, which runs through Essex at the start of July.
“We have such a strong core of British cyclists at the moment and it means we are able to compete at the very top of the sport,” he said.
“Chris Froome has to be one of the favourites for the race, but his rivals – especially Alberto Contador – are gaining strength so it promises to be fascinating.”
The race will run through Chelmsford and Braintree on Monday, July 7.