Team Wiggins’ rider Chris Lawless raced to victory in the Stockton Town Centre Races, round three of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series, on Friday evening.
The 19-year-old from Wigan edged to victory on the final lap, at the end of an edgy race which saw few riders allowed any time off the front.
Lawless, who won round six of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series back in May, was 19th in round two at Stafford last week and will move well up the overall Series standings on the back of his win at Stockton.
Just behind, David McGowan (Pedal Heaven) took second and Graham Briggs (JLT Condor) third.
As with most criterium races, the pace was high from the off and riders were quickly getting dropped out of the back, while the strong and the powerful riders ploughed up the course.
The bunch was strung out early on and a break looked likely as riders such as James Lowsley-Williams (NFTO), David McGowan (Pedal Heaven), Evan Oliphant (Raleigh GAC) and Graham Briggs (JLT Condor) hit the front.
But the elastic didn’t break at the front, although after 20 minutes of racing it had most definitely twanged at the back, with only around 30 riders left in the race.
Briggs’ team-mate at JLT Condor, Felix English tried to get clear alone, as did Ian Bibby (NFTO), but they couldn’t get clear, and shortly after two-times winner George Atkins (One Pro Cycling) was looking active and keen to go for a third consecutive win at Stockton.
With half an hour gone, Pedal Heaven’s Alex Paton attacked hard. He was pulled back quickly, but former national criterium champion Graham Briggs (JLT Condor) attacked and made it stick, gaining seven seconds, at which point he was joined by Series leader Jon Mould (One Pro Cycling).
The duo were joined by McGowan and Josh Lawless (Team Moda Anon) who also looked to get in on the action, but the bunch were soon on their heels and at half distance the race was still not allowing anyone to get clear.
As the race reached the hour mark Pedal Heaven’s Stephen Williams tried to get clear but was pulled back after a few seconds, before Ian Bibby (NFTO) had another dig.
He was also denied much freedom, before another Pedal Heaven rider – Alex Paton – launched a ferocious attack.
With five laps remaining, Paton gained around ten seconds on the chasers, and was desperately trying to hold on to his lead.
JLT Condor’s Felix English led the chase and narrowed Paton’s lead to just seven seconds as the riders hurtled round the course with just three laps left.
But on the penultimate circuit of the 1.2-kilometre course Paton was pulled back, and a bunch sprint finish looked inevitable.
2013 and 2014 Stockton winner George Atkins eked out a narrow four second gap on the last lap, but he was pulled back, and in the gallop for the line Chris Lawless (Team Wiggins) took the win by a few bike lengths from McGowan and Briggs.
“From about five laps out it looked as if it would come down to a sprint,” said Lawless. “But then George Atkins attacked with three laps to go. He’s won this race before so it looked like he could stay away, but luckily there were a few teams organised working for a sprint.
“My team mate Mark Christian did a really good ride to help bring it all back together, once Mark was finished I slipped back a bit and used the Pedal Heaven boys as much as I could.
“Going into the last two corners I knew I had to be first into there and I kicked out. I knew I had a pretty good chance of winning as it was a tail wind to the finish and there was a chicane on the finish straight so I just straight-lined that and it was difficult for anyone to get round me.
“I was feeling pretty tired going into the race because we’ve been training hard as we’ve got some important races coming up. But I knew that if it came down to a sprint I would have a pretty good chance.
“I think it was just a matter of timing my sprint right - I definitely wasn’t the strongest in the race. Late moves often work in a crit so I was a bit nervous when George Atkins got away, but I knew I could chase it myself, but wouldn’t have anything left for the sprint.”
“It’s great for the team, Mark was pretty happy afterwards. He did a lot of work on the front.”
Pos Name Sponsor Total Tm
1 Christopher Lawless Team Wiggins 09:54.5
2 David McGowan Pedal Heaven RT 09:54.8
3 Graham Briggs JLT Condor 09:55.1
4 Will Fox Pedal Heaven Rt 09:55.3
5 Evan Oliphant Raleigh GAC 09:55.5
6 Jonathan Mould One Pro Cycling 09:56.0
7 George Atkins One Pro Cycling 09:56.9
8 Alex Paton Pedal Heaven Rt 09:57.2
9 Jacob Tipper Neon-Velo Cycling Team 09:57.2
10 Ian Bibby NTFO 09:57.8
11 Matt Cronshaw Madison Genesis 09:58.4
12 Jonathan McEvoy NFTO 09:58.7
13 Andrew Hawdon Raleigh GAC 09:59.4
14 Stephen Williams Pedal Heaven RT 10:00.2
15 Marc Hester One Pro Cycling 10:00.6
16 James Lowsey Williams NFTO 10:00.7
17 Mark Christian Team Wiggins 10:06.3
18 Ryan Davis SportGrub KUOTA Cycling Team 10:12.7
19 William Bjergfelt SportGrub KUOTA Cycling Team 10:25.6
20 Thomas Moses JLT Condor 10:27.5
21 Tom Barras NTFO 10:28.6
22 William Brown Achieve Northside Skinnergate 10:29.2
23 Andrew Coupe Wheelbase Altura MGD 10:29.6
24 Sam Lowe Raleigh GAC 10:30.0
25 Calvin Beneke Raleigh GAC 10:30.0
26 Gruffudd Lewis Pedal Heaven RT 10:30.1
27 David Lines Velosure Starley Primal 10:36.7
28 Luc Hall Team Wiggins 10:41.2
29 Robert Partridge NFTO 08:21.5
30 Matthew Kipling MTS Cycle Sport Scott RT 11:14.0
31 Rhys Lloyd NFTO 11:14.1
32 Joseph Wiltshire NFTO 11:14.3
33 Daniel Patten Team Wiggins 11:14.4
34 Hugo Robinson Neon-Velo Cycling Team 11:15.0
35 Samuel Williams One Pro Cycling 11:15.3
36 Iain Paton Team Wiggins 11:17.7
DNF Ashley Marshall Achieve Northside Skinnergate
DNF Felix English JLT Condor
DNF Ed Laverick JLT Condor
DNF Matt Holmes Madison Genesis
DNF Tristan Robbins Madison Genesis
DNF James Moss MTS Cycle Sport Scott RT
DNF Alex Anderson Neon-Velo Cycling Team
DNF James Lowden Neon-Velo Cycling Team
DNF Alex Minting Neon-Velo Cycling Team
DNF James Lewis NFTO
DNF Thomas Baylis One Pro Cycling
DNF Rory Townsend Pedal Heaven RT
DNF Oliver Moors Project 51
DNF George Pym Raleigh GAC
DNF Liam Stones Raleigh GAC
DNF Jason White T1Diabetes.info
DNF Julian Pearson Team Moda-Anon
DNF Michael Thompson Team Wiggins
DNF Lewis Craven Wheelbase Altura MGD
DNF Ben Davis Wheelbase Altura MGD
DNF Alex Orrell-Turner Wheelbase Altura MGD
DNF Stuart Reid Wheelbase Altura MGD