Successful start to campaign sees Gullen in Pedal Heaven

James Gullen, left, and Ian Wilkinson of Pedal Heaven in action at the 50th Clayton Spring Classic. Picture: Ellen Isherwood
James Gullen, left, and Ian Wilkinson of Pedal Heaven in action at the 50th Clayton Spring Classic. Picture: Ellen Isherwood

James Gullen has celebrated his switch to Pedal Heaven by making a flying start to the new campaign.

The 26-year-old, who lives in Lancaster, penned a deal with the Hampshire-based UCI Continental team in December.

He made his return to action at the weekend with a record-breaking success in the Rossendale Road Club’s Bolton-by-Bowland time trial on Saturday.

The next day he finished fourth in the 50th Clayton Spring Classic - the Clitheroe-based curtain-raiser to the road racing season in the north - as his team-mate Ian Wilkinson fell agonisingly short of victory.

The Pedal Heaven duo were part of a scratch group which began the 58-mile handicap contest six minutes adrift of the junior hopefuls and three minutes behind category two, three and four challengers.

After bridging the gap to the middle group, Gullen and Wilkinson jumped clear only to fall just a few yards short of junior winner Tom Pidcock and his VCUK team-mate Rob Scott. 
Gullen said: “It was a good race. We had 30 or 40 miles of just the two of us working together to close the gap and we got so close. It was agonising.

“I led Ian out for the last mile or so and then he went over the top coming into the last corner. He got a good bit of speed up and as I saw him going up I thought he was going to catch them.

“But you could just see him start to tie up because we had been away on our own for so long. It was so close.

‘But those two juniors are as good as elites really, so I was dead happy with my form.

“We couldn’t have done any more.”

Jack Pullar, who also rides for Pedal Heaven and lives in Bolton-le-Sands, finished ninth.

Gullen’s show of strength in Clitheroe was no surprise following his efforts in the 11-mile time trial the previous day.

He chopped a whopping 44 seconds off the course record as he clocked 23min 11sec to beat Adam Hartley (23.37) into runners-up spot.