Andrew Hawdon (Raleigh GAC) sprinted to a thrilling victory in the Colne Grand Prix, round four of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series in Lancashire on Wednesday evening.
The 39-year-old from Millom in Cumbria edged to a narrow victory after Tom Scully (Madison Genesis) had broken away with five laps remaining and almost held on for the win, just being swallowed up in the finishing straight.
It was Hawdon’s first win of the season and arguably the biggest win yet for the man who placed fifth in 2013 and third in 2014 at the Colne Grand Prix.
Matt Cronshaw (Madison Genesis) took second, while inches behind was Felix English (JLT Condor). Jon Mould (One Pro Cycling) looked to cross the line in the next few placings to preserve his overall lead in the Series at the halfway stage.
An early crash on lap two took down several riders including some from JLT Condor, Raleigh GAC and One Pro Cycling, but it didn’t affect the race too much, with no split being caused – although it left several riders with injuries, include JLT Condor’s Richard Handley who was later confirmed as having suffered a broken collar bone.
Although the pace was high there was no notable split that was allowed to go free. Matt Cronshaw (Madison Genesis) was first to have a go but was rapidly pulled back, and shortly after a break looked likely with a group of five almost breaking off the front.
But although the bunch was whittled down and strung out, with the pace at the front stretching the elastic and leaving several riders out of the back, nobody could go clear off the front.
A crash about 45 minutes in to the race brought down Mark McNally (Madison Genesis), Ian Wilkinson (Raleigh GAC), George Atkins (One Pro Cycling) and Richard Handley (JLT Condor) hitting the deck, although most got back up and rejoined.
As the crashes caused some top riders to fall away, the leading two in the overall Elite Circuit Series, Jon Mould (One Pro Cycling) and David McGowan (Pedal Heaven) hit the front to stay out of trouble and plot another potential victory which was just 20 minutes away.
McGowan tried to go clear on his own, then after he was pulled back his team-mate at Pedal heaven RT Simon Holt had a go, but he too was reeled in.
Finally, Tom Scully (Madison Genesis) launched a blazing attack with five laps to go, and held his advantage at five seconds as the bell rang for the last lap.
But he was caught in the dying metres, with Hawdon taking the win from Cronshaw and English.
“I’m over the moon to get the win,” said Hawdon afterwards. “I felt strong coming down the finish and I just made sure I kept a straight line so nobody could get past. I went well here last year and was third, so I thought I could do something tonight.
“There were a lot of crashes and little groups getting away and coming back. I thought it would be a sprint but with the crashes and it all went pear-shaped. There was a guy who crashed on the corner and I nearly skidded into him.
“I felt comfortable all night, and the team were banking on me for the sprint win. I’m just glad I could do it – hard work pays off!”
And Cherie Pridham, Team Manager for Raleigh GAC, said: “I’m delighted with that, it’s our first major win of the season. I’m happy for the team and for Andy too as he was third here last year.
“It’s a huge relief as we stuck to the plan which was to look after Andy and Sam Lowe, but Sam crashed early on so it was on Andy. It’s never nice to see the lads crash, but I’m delighted to get the win!”
1 Andrew Hawdon Raleigh GAC
2 Matt Cronshaw Madison Genesis
3 Felix English JLT Condor
4 Jonathan Mould One Pro Cycling
5 David McGowan Pedal Heaven RT
6 William Fox Pedal Heaven RT
7 Ian Bibby NFTO
8 Evan Oliphant Raleigh GAC
9 Jacob Tipper Neon-Velo Cycling Team
10 Marc Hester One Pro Cycling
11 Hugo Robinson Neon-Velo Cycling Team
12 Thomas Moses JLT Condor
13 Richard Hepworth SportGrub KUOTA Cycling Team
14 Karol Domagalski Raleigh GAC
15 Liam Stones Raleigh GAC
16 Tom Stewart Madison Genesis
17 Lewis Atkins Pedal Heaven RT
18 Ryan Davis SportGrub KUOTA Cycling Team
19 Jake Hales Spirit Bikes Racing Team
20 Alex Paton Pedal Heaven RT
21 Sam Boast Wheelbase Altura MGD
22 Tom Scally Madison Genesis
23 David Clarke Giordana Mitsubishi
24 Alex Minting Neon-Velo Cycling Team
25 Lewis Craven Wheelbase Altura MGD
26 Tristan Robbins Madison Genesis
27 Peter Barusevicus All Terrain Cycles
28 Jason White T1Diabetes.info
29 Joshua Hunt One Pro Cycling
30 Simon Wilson Team Polypipe
31 Simon Holt Pedal Heaven RT
32 William Brown Achieve Northside Skinnergate
33 Peter Williams One Pro Cycling
34 Joseph Moses JLT Condor
35 Robert Scott VCUK PH-MAS Junior Cycling Team
36 Luke Grivell-Mellor JLT Condor
37 Martin Woffindin Team Moda-Anon