Marcin Bialoblocki (Velosure Giordana) won the Cycle Wiltshire Grand Prix – round two of the 2014 British Cycling Elite Road Series – after a thrilling sprint finish in Wilton on Sunday.
The 30-year-old from Bridgwater had been part of a near race-long break of around 29 riders, and again when a smaller group clipped off the front in the closing stages he was there again.
Even when they were caught in the last five miles, Bialoblocki ploughed on and had enough energy left in the tank to take the win ahead of Dean Downing (NFTO) and Hugh Wilson (NFTO).
The second round of the British Cycling Elite Series Spring Cup saw the series take a rare excursion south of the M4. The circuit for the Cycle Wiltshire Grand Prix - based in Wilton - was last used in 2011 and featured the short but brutal climb of Fovant Down in the four long circuits that filled the first two and a half hours of the four hour schedule before settling in to six laps of a short circuit - passing through Wilton town centre on ten occasions.
The decisive move of the race came early on as they tackled the first of four climbs of Fovant Down. As the climb kicked up the peloton was strung out, and as they crested the top the attacks started coming.
Initially it was Team Raleigh duo Alex Blain and Mathieu Boulo who attacked, and shortly after they were pulled back a break of 19 – including Boulo – forced a gap which continued to grow.
With most of the top teams represented in the break – Team Raleigh by Evan Oliphant, Morgan Kniesky and Boulo, Madison Genesis by Series leader Alex Peters, Liam Holohan and Ian Bibby, as well as NFTO’s Sam Harrison and Dean Downing, and Rapha Condor’s Graham Briggs and Kristian House - there was no real chase from the bunch, and the fast pace led to a gap approaching a minute being established.
By the next time they reached Fovant Down the gap was 1:45, and a chase had finally been mounted. Nine riders had gone off the front, including Madison Genesis’s Peter Hawkins and Tom Scully, NFTO’s Josh Hunt and Sam Williams, as well as Yanto Barker from Team Raleigh and Tom Moses from Rapha Condor.
By the 65-mile stage the chasers had caught the leaders to form a front group of 29 riders, and as they kept the pace high and approaching 40mph in some places, it appeared to be race over for the remains of the bunch.
Few in the break fancied their chances in a 29-rider sprint finish, and the attacks began to come. First six riders from separate teams got clear, and although they were pulled back another break went shortly after – Peter Hawkins (Madison Genesis), Tom Moses (Rapha Condor), Mathieu Boulo (Team Raleigh), Marcin Bialoblocki (Velosure Giordana) and Josh Hunt (NFTO Pro Cycling).
They established up to 40 seconds over the next few miles, and as they came through Wilton with three small laps of the finishing circuit to go, the gap had grown to 48 seconds.
But with around 16 miles to go Hawkins crashed after a touch of wheels, leaving four riders to plough on. Madison Genesis were chasing hard after their man had crashed, and quickly closed the gap to 16 seconds before it was finally caught with around five miles left.
This time nobody was getting away but Bialoblocki – who’d tried to distance the rest of the break away before it was swept up stayed near the front, and was eventually rewarded for his efforts with the win.
Bialoblocki said after the race "It's incredible. I was waiting for this moment for so long - since 2009 when I won Girvan - and always something goes wrong, but I managed it
Had the break changed their game plan when Hawkins crashed, knowing that Madison would chase hard? "Yes, we changed, but not to slow - we went faster - we started to go very fast because we knew they would chase. And we didn't stay away but I still had good legs and I told the guys to take me to the sprint and [Steve Lampier] took me to the front with 2km to go and that was that"
1 Marcin Bialoblocki (Velosure Giordana)
2 Dean Downing (NFTO Pro Cycling)
3 Hugh Wilson (NFTO Pro Cycling)
4 Tom Scully (Madison Genesis)
5 Yanto Barker (Team Raleigh)
6 Jack Pullar (Starley Primal)
7 Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor-JLT)
8 Sam Williams (NFTO Pro Cycling)
9 Steve Lampier (Velosure Giordana)
10 Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh)
Elite Road Series overall (after 2 rounds):
1 Marcin Bialoblocki (Velosure Giordana) 69 pts
2 Yanto Barker (Team Raleigh) 69
3 Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor-JLT) 57
4 Alex Peters (Madison Genesis) 56
5 Peter Hawkins (Madison Genesis) 52
6 Steve Lampier (Velosure Giordana) 48