Ian Bibby powered home to land the first blow in the Grand Prix Series as he secured a dramatic victory at stage one of the Tour of the Reservoir, despite crashing in the opening lap.
After Sarah Storey had sealed victory in the women’s race earlier in the day, the eyes were on the men to see who would triumph in the first leg of the series.
And supporters were not disappointed, with a 14-strong leading pack together for much of the race, with riders foiling each other’s attacks in an enthralling dash.
But the cyclists gunned it with 3km to go in a straight sprint for the line.
And it was JLT Condor’s Bibby, sixth in this year’s Tour de Yorkshire and ninth in the Commonwealth Games time trial, who broke clear and held off the charge of the chasing riders to claim the win.
Madison Genesis’ Connor Swift took second, while Ethan Hayter, of 100% ME and who was at the fore for the majority of the race, claiming third.
It was all the more remarkable victory for Bibby, who had to work his way back into contention after crashing on the first lap of the race.
After a couple of early breaks were reined in by the chasing peloton, ONE Pro Cycling’s Tom Baylis made the first meaningful charge for the lead, opening up a lead of 33 seconds at one point.
Rising star Hayter, who made his name on the world stage by winning two medals at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, chased him down.
The pair finished first and second in the first King of the Mountains, with Tom Pidcock of Team Wiggins third.
Hauled together once more, Hayter was among the next group to make a move. There was a more meaningful leading pack emerge shortly after the first King of the Mountains, with 13 cyclists breaking clear and opened up a gap of nearly a minute ahead of the rest.
This gap became 14 with the riders approaching half-way, Michael Mottram of Morvelo Basso embarking on a valiant solo chase to hunt down the leaders.
The time between the group up top and the peloton grew steadily to around three minutes – Rob Scott of Team Wiggins the main challenger who broke clear of the peloton in an attempt to join the front.
Joey Walker sealed the King of the Mountains on the Manor House Climb, ahead of the gutsy Mottram and Bibby.
The cyclists at the front then faced an attack by the peloton, which shrank the lead from three minutes and 30 seconds at the 92km stage by more than a minute in just a few kilometres.
Despite attacks from Walker, Pidcock and Hayden McCormick in the closing stages, none could sustain their charges and it was Bibby who raced through for glory.