George Atkins wins Elite Circuit Series as Downing takes Sheffield Grand Prix victory

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Madison-Genesis’ Dean Downing won an incident packed finale of the Elite Circuit Series at the Sheffield Grand Prix as George Atkins (100% ME) celebrated the overall series victory.

Downing edged out Graham Briggs in the final sprint with ninth for Atkins enough to secure his top spot in the standings.

“I’m super happy,” Atkins said. “Like I said before I’ve had a few restless nights a bit stressful at times. To finish the job off is a bit of a relief and now it’s time to do a bit of training rather than just the racing so a little stress free.

“I hadn’t gone in with huge aspirations overall. I didn’t have the self confidence to say I could target that but once I came out of Stockton and I had that lead I thought ‘I’ve got the lead and I’m obviously good enough and I’ll try to hold on to it now and build’.”

“Throughout the rounds my confidence has really grown. I’ve got a lot more confidence in myself now.”

The streets of Sheffield City Centre were packed with excited race-goers on Wednesday evening for the second edition of the Claremont Sheffield Grand Prix.

The 1.4-kilometre city centre circuit is fast with tight corners leading down from the start area to the Crucible Theatre a cobbled climb up Norfolk Street and a long finishing straight back onto Pinstone Street.

Event organiser Marc Etches is an avid road cyclist, who runs a successful marketing and advertising company. He certainly knows how to blend his two passions together, the bike racing at Sheffield was top quality and the race organisation very professional.

But of course you need an army of willing and hardworking volunteers to put on a big bike race and this South Yorkshire event had them in abundance.

Women's and men's Sheffield Grand Prix images

The final round of the men's Elite Circuit Series at was always going to be a hotly contested affair.

The series title was up for grabs, leader George Atkins had a slender lead that could be wiped out by a win from either Ed Clancy or Felix English.

The first break of the night came from Raleigh rider Graham Briggs. On the hunt for valuable intermediate sprint points he put in a blistering attack that saw him ride clear.

Maybe a little surprised to see he didn't have any company he got his head down and carried on. It looked to be the start of a victorious solo ride, his Raleigh team got involved in disrupting the line behind and soon he had 15 seconds lead.

With only eight laps left on the board the Rapha Condor JLT squad formed at the front and quickly reeled Briggs back in. Realising his time was up the Rossington rider sat up saving his effort for the inevitable sprint finish.

The evening light had gone and the riders were racing in the gloom illuminated by streetlights and hundreds of camera flash-bulbs lining the barriers. The race had split apart and into the closing laps the main leading group was quickly gaining on the back markers.

The final sprint was a chaotic affair with the back markers, moto-marshal and TV bike caught just before the line. It was up to the judges to sort it out and Dean Downing (Madison Genesis) was given the win from Graham Briggs (Raleigh), Russ Downing (NetApp-Endura) made it a top trio of Yorkshire men on the podium.

Briggs and Russ Downing were clearly disappointed that their final sprints were impeded by lapped riders and spoke to the judges and organiser. A review of the photo-finish confirmed the top three places and the result stood.

Atkins was awarded ninth place in the photo-finish giving him enough points over his rivals to win his first national series title.

Result

1. Dean Downing (Madison Genesis)
2. Graham Briggs (Team Raleigh)
3. Russell Downing (Team Net-App Endura)

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