Colne Grand Prix was won with a sensational sprint from a previous winner, rounding off British Cycling’s Elite Men’s Circuit Series in style on Tuesday night.
It was almost dark when Graham Briggs of JLT Condor team powered clear of the rest of the peloton to win the cottages.com sponsored race in front of a large crowd, repeating his feat of 2014.
The fast finish brought to a close a breathless hour or so of racing, which had seen constant attacks and relentless high paced action.
Briggs’s JLT Condor teammate Tom Moses completed a one-two for the team dubbed the “Men in Black” by finishing in second and completing the podium in third at the end of a thrilling night of racing was Matt Cronshaw of Madison Genesis.
Team Raleigh GAC were also popping open the celebratory champagne as their Spanish rider Sebastian Mora Vedri finished fourth on the night securing enough points to be crowned overall winner of the series.
Graham, returning to Colne for the first time since his 2014 win, said: “I think I was in third position with a lap to go and I think Raleigh maybe took it up a little bit early with a headwind on the back straight and got swamped a bit past the pits.
“I tried to not go too early and panic. I know it’s a long finish and with the drag just before the finish it’s easier to move up.
“I was about fourth going into the last corner and I carried my speed. When Matt Cronshaw went I just went over the top of him as I had another gear left.
“It’s a good circuit. I didn’t really think that I’m an out and out bunch sprinter but it shows tonight, some of the fastest guys who have been up there for the whole series, and I’ve beat them, so it’s a nice feeling.”
Cherie Pridham, Team Manager at Raleigh GAC, said: “We didn’t need to win tonight, we just had to ride defensively and make sure there was no dangerous breakaways up the road and if we could follow the breakaways, the more numbers up in the breakaways the better to take points away.
“JLT obviously had other plans for sprinter Brigger and hats off to them. Sebastian just missed the podium but we are happy with fourth and really, really delighted for the team that we have pulled off the series win and to win the Velo UK trophy for the series leader tops it all off for us.
“Team Raleigh are very fond of this circuit, we’ve come here, we’ve had good results.
“The public, the organisation have always supported this particular round and I put it up there with the likes of Sheffield and Otley. Colne GP is one of the top ones we enjoy coming back to each year.”
Before the main event, a parade lap with Cycle Sport Pendle young riders took place and then the racing kicked off with a youth race supported by Colne Town Council.
Talented up-and-coming riders then had their chance to shine in Fort Vale’s Sprint for Success Race which was won by George Nolan, with Levi Moody in second and Thomas Wood in third.
The race saw a couple of young riders take a tumble delaying the grand prix start.
One was being given oxygen and wearing a neck brace, believed to be a precautionary measure, as he was loaded into the back of an ambulance on a stretcher to sympathetic applause while another suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder and broken thumb.
One of those looking on with interest was UCI President Brian Cookson who was pleased to see enduring enthusiasm for Colne Grand Prix.
Brian said: “It’s great to see a successful event again here, a great crowd and fantastic racing and putting Colne on the map.
“2004 was the first one we put it on and over the years we have seen some fantastic performances, Olympic champions, Olympic medallists and world champions.
“The new generation is coming through all the time, we’re seeing a very high standard of racing and long may it continue.
“Every sport has to have it’s different tiers, different levels. This a national league level event.
“It’s got a quality field, it’s got a lot of riders coming from the rest of world now to take part in it so the professionalism is growing every year, the budgets of the team’s are growing every year and it’s good to see the interest from the public in cycling growing every year as well so it is an important part of that overall jigsaw.”