Graham Briggs scored his third victory and Team Raleigh GAC 4th in the elite circuit series at Abergavenny in Wales on Friday night.
Although only 29 riders signed on, it was nevertheless a good quality field that took to the circuit.
As expected it was a fast start and a group of five which included Briggs, James McCullum (Rapha Condor Sharp), Matt Jones (Corley Cycles) and the Metalek pair of Marcel Six and Dale Appleby who soon established a lead of 15 seconds over the rest of the field.
The five worked well together and although Rapha and Raleigh were working the chasing bunch well the gap was kept constant on the tight circuit. It was at the mid race point that saw Dean Downing, back from a recent illness, attack from the chasing bunch and try to get across to the front group but Raleigh weren't going to let anyone escape and the Rapha rider was soon reeled back in.
With 35 minutes of the race completed the five leaders increased the pace and took the gap to 20 seconds which saw the field split into two small groups and back markers retiring. Dale Appleby took his second sprint of the night to increase his points tally for the series.
By three-quarter distance the race was now all about the two groups. The original five were still away but the chasers were beginning to organise themselves and had brought the gap back to 10 seconds and on the long straight they could see the back of the front group.
Raleigh's Bernie Sulzberger was working hard at the front of the chasers and with eight laps to go the leaders seemed to ease off the gas which allowed the race to come back together.
The field was now down to 13 riders and both Team Raleigh and Rapha Condor Sharp were lining the sprinters up for the finish. Rain started to fall with four laps to go but thankfully held off till the podium.
Cobbles, tight circuits and rain have played their part in the previous rounds with crashes and retirements but the riders stayed upright for the closing laps and were flat out at the bell and it looked like the race would come down to the first bunch sprint of the series.
But it was the colours of Raleigh-GAC and Graham Briggs who attacked on the final half lap and crossed the line just ahead of a hard-working James McCallum (Rapha Condor Sharp) and Rico Rogers (Node 4-Giordana) who came in just ahead of the bunch in second and third respectively.
What they said
“That’s my third win and Raleigh's fourth in the series so I can't complain,” said winner Graham Briggs. “The guys rode really well again for me. It would have been nice to have another one with me in the group but we finished it off really well in the end.
“The race went from the gun again but it was Rapha who took it on tonight and they did a few laps pretty fast. I didn't want to commit to the work to be honest and we had Tobyn [Horton] up there with us early on but the group got down to five and the two Metaltek guys did a lot of the work.
“I did a few laps on the front but didn't give it 100 per cent but they really wanted to keep it away to the finish but Raleigh worked brilliantly and let me get away on the final lap to take the win.”
1 Graham Briggs (Raleigh-GAC) 1.01.18
2 James McCallum (Rapha Condor-Sharp) @ 1sec
3 Rico Rogers (Node 4-Giordana) @ 3sec
4 Bernie Sulzberger (Raleigh-GAC)
5 Simon Holt (Raleigh GAC) all same time
6 Dale Appleby (Metalek Scott) @ 4sec
7 Matt Jones (Corley Cycles) @ 9sec
8 Dean Downing (Rapha Condor-Sharp) @ 18sec
9 Zachery May (Cardiff JIF) @ 21sec
10 Jeroen Janssen (Raleigh-GAC) @ 22sec
11 Tobyn Horton (Raleigh-GAC) @ 1:16
12 Ben Grenda (Rapha Condor-Sharp) @ 1:21
13 Marcel Six (Metaltek-Scott) @ 1:32
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.