Chris Lawless (JLT Condor) sprinted to victory in the Property Development Otley Grand Prix in West Yorkshire on Wednesday, and drew first blood in the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series.
The 20-year-old from Wigan, who won the London Nocturne this year as well as two rounds of the Tour Series, showed a great turn of speed to take the win and show just why JLT Condor were crowned Tour Series winners two weeks ago.
The race was little more than two laps old when it was neutralised because of a crash in the bunch, but after a speedy intervention by an ambulance the race was soon back under way.
Not long afterwards, a break of six riders went away with Ian Bibby (NFTO) driving them on hard with others from Pedal Heaven and Raleigh GAC in the mix too.
The break was eventually pulled back after a few laps of freedom, only for Russell Downing (JLT Condor) to try to get clear himself for a few laps, but the bunch came back together with 13 laps to go and around half an hour raced.
Harry Tanfield (Pedal Heaven) was next to have a go at getting clear, and he was joined at the front by seven other riders who formed a break and quickly got 15 seconds over the bunch.
As their pace grew, two more small groups broke off the front of the bunch in search of the leaders, while JLT Condor riders were driving hard on the front, trying to make the break stick.
The increase in pace had the desired effect, with the gap to the chasing group growing to 33 seconds with five laps remaining.
But the chasers gathered momentum, and with three laps to go it had dropped to 22 seconds, with another six seconds being shaved off in the next lap.
They were caught as the finish line approached, and in the charge it was Lawless who just edged ahead to draw first blood in the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series.
Second spot went to Raleigh GAC’s Spaniard Sebastian Mora Vedri, while Felix English managed to take third place for Madison Genesis in a frantic dash for the line.
“In the last couple of laps I thought the front group was going to stay away, as there were about eight riders up there and we had four in it,” said Lawless. “My team-mates were riding well on the front, but Raleigh were riding better behind them.
“Luckily we had a few fresh guys in the peloton, and Russ managed to give me a lead out on the last lap and I was first into the final corner, and it’s hard to come round someone as it’s a short finish straight. I was pretty confident, although I saw Mora coming up on my hip.
“This is such an open race you never know what’s going to happen. But it went to plan as much as we can plan for it.
“I’m not sure I will be riding every race, so it would be nice to hand the lead over to one of my team-mates.”
1. Chris Lawless (JLT Condor)
2. Sebastian Mora Vedri (Raleigh GAC) same time
3. Felix English (Madison Genesis) at 1sec
4. Russell Downing (JLT Condor)
5. Jonny McEvoy (NFTO)
6. Harry Tanfield (Pedal Heaven)
7. Albert Torres (Raleigh GAC)
8. Scott Thwaites (Bora Argon 18) all st
9. Tom Mazzone (Excel Pedal Heaven Academy) at 2sec
10. Erick Rowsell (Madison Genesis) st