Former British circuit champion Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor-JLT) won the 2014 Colne Grand Prix, part of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series, in a thrilling sprint finish to the race in Lancashire on Wednesday evening.
The 31-year-old from Rossington near Doncaster edged to victory ahead of fellow Yorkshireman Dean Downing (NFTO Pro Cycling), while Cumbria's Andrew Hawdon (KTM Road and Trail) took third.
The third round of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Race Series – the Colne Grand Prix took part on one of the shortest courses on the calendar with two fast but technical hairpin bends connected by two meandering ‘straights’ with a couple of metres of elevation per lap.
Although the rain stopped before the support race and stayed away for the duration there were a couple of minor crashes on the still-damp road surface. Nonetheless, the action was fast and furious with the race stringing out from the gun and the first riders were lapped within the first 15 minutes
NFTO Pro Cycling, Team Raleigh and Rapha Condor-JLT all took turns towing the race around in the early stages, but the key split occurred after 20 minutes when James McCallum of NFTO jumped away with Tom Moses of Rapha Condor-JLT. They were joined by Matt Cronshaw of Velosure-Giordana and then Moses’ team mate James Handley.
The quartet worked well together and although the gap was never huge, they steadily pulled out and held a lead of over 20 seconds on the bunch, which seemed content to let them go.
There were a few attempts to bridge the gap – Raleigh’s George Atkins, winner in Stockton last Friday – attacked and was joined by Rapah Condor JLT’s Kristian House, but it came to nought.
It was Raleigh – on behalf of Series leader Alex Blain - that did the bulk of the work on the front for the middle portion of the race but as it entered the last 10 laps the bunch became more animated with Chris Opie of Rapha Condor-JLT having one spirited solo effort to bridge the gap but he was to play a different role in the outcome.
The gap to the leaders started to tumble and with three laps to go the game was up. With two to go it was Blain, House, Opie and Cronshaw just off the front of the peloton but at the bell it was Dean Downing of NFTO – in his last week of racing before retiring – who was ahead with Blain chasing hard.
It was time for Opie to play his part and he did so to perfection, leading out team mate Graham Briggs who flew past Downing on the run in to take the win with Downing second and Andrew Hawdon of KTM Cycling in third place.
Briggs was delighted with the win and gave credit to his team mate’s lead out: “I think this is my first time in the top 20 in this year’s series, so it’s nice to win - I’ve always done pretty well here.
“We had two guys in the break, so when that came back me or Chris were down for the sprint and he said he’d work for me and he did. I just popped out with 50 metres to go, so I’m pretty chuffed with that.
“Tonight was a pretty fast race that was on from the beginning and there were a lot of attacks. When the move went I thought that was the end of the race, but it came back and I finished it off, so I’m pretty pleased.”
1 Graham Briggs Rapha Condor JLT
2 Dean Downing NFTO
3 Andrew Hawdon KTM road-and-trail.com
4 George Atkins Team Raleigh
5 Chris Opie Rapha Condor JLT
6 Alex Blain Team Raleigh
7 Adam Duggleby Wheelbase Altura MGD
8 Matt Cronshaw Velosure - Giordana RT
9 Richard Hepworth Velosure - Giordana RT
10 David McGowan Metaltek KUOTA RT
11 Will Fox Starley Primal Pro Cycling
12 Adam Martin Metaltek KUOTA RT
13 Dale Appleby NFTO
14 James Moss Velosure - Giordana RT
15 Matt Boulo Team Raleigh
16 Jacob Tipper KTM road-and-trail.com
17 David Lines Starley Primal Pro Cycling
18 William Bjergfelt Metaltek KUOTA RT
19 Harry Tanfield KTM road-and-trail.com
20 Thomas Stewart Madison Genesis
21 Evan Oliphant Team Raleigh
22 Mark Stewart Spokes Racing Team
23 Hugh Wilson NFTO
24 Edward Laverack Rapha Condor JLT
25 Luke Grivell-Mellor Rapha Condor JLT
26 Jack Sadler Rapha Condor JLT
27 Mark Christian Team Raleigh
28 Richard Handley Rapha Condor JLT
29 Matthew Holmes Madison Genesis
30 Thomas Moses Rapha Condor JLT
31 Morgan Kneisky Team Raleigh
32 Kristian House Rapha Condor JLT
Fort Vale Sprint for Success
1 Thomas Wood Paul Milnes Cycles/Bradford Olympic RC
2 Lewis Craven Wheelbase Altura MGD
3 Robert Scott PH-MAS Cycling
4 Thomas Pidcock Chevin Cycles.com Trek
5 Jamie Ridehalgh Kirklees Cycling Academy
6 Adam Hartley Velocity WD-40
7 Joshua Cutler 3RT
8 Craig Jarratt Harrogate Nova CC
9 Chris Gambles Horwich CC
10 Kenny Gray Kuota - Spinergy - GSG
11 Richard Sagar North Lancashire RC
12 Matthew Pearce Bronte Wheelers/Neophix Engineering
13 Timothy Jones Cycle Sport Pendle
14 David Mirfield Ride On
15 Peter Holdsworth Huddersfield Star Whlrs
16 Edward Evans Skipton Cycling Club
17 Stephen Pomfret Leisure Lakes
18 Ben Howe Cycle Sport Pendle
19 Chris Taylor Bury Clarion Cycling Club
20 Christopher Smith Private Member
21 Paul Braithwaite Pendle Forest CC
22 Luke Douglas Chorlton Velo
23 William Erskine North Lancashire RC
24 Stephen Lloyd Skipton Cycling Club
25 Christian Smith Manchester Whlrs Club
26 Simon Vazquez Chorlton Velo
27 Robert Palmer Kuota - Spinergy - GSG
28 Jon Chambers Chevin Cycles.com Trek
29 Callum Belfield Manchester Whlrs Club