Hundreds turned out in Colne on Wednesday evening to watch the thrills and spills of the town’s annual circuit cycling race.
This was the 11th edition of the Colne Grand Prix and some of the biggest names in British cycling were back in town enthusiastically cheered on as they tackled 55 laps of an 850 metre circuit around Colne’s centre.
And it was familiar names who were at the forefront of a frantically fast Cottages4you men’s elite race which was won by Rapha Condor JLT rider Graham Briggs, second in the race in 2012, who sprinted away from rivals to secure victory.
A delighted Graham said: “I got the nod that if it came back for a sprint that I could go for it and I’m pretty pleased I could finish it off. It’s a great feeling after the team rode awesome tonight.
“I’ve been here quite a few times and it is always well supported and it’s a great event.
“It’s always quick here, the racing is always aggressive. It’s quite a fast circuit which tends to keep the speeds high.”
Dean Downing of NFTO team was second, his fifth consecutive podium placing in Colne. But retiring this week, it will be his last, and he thanked the Colne crowd for their support down the years.
Completing the podium was Andrew Hawdon of KTM team but for Barnoldswick Raleigh team rider Ian Wilkinson, there was no such luck as he pulled out of the race before the finish.
Ian said: “It was disappointing not to get any of our riders in the breakaway group tonight and it’s a bit rubbish not to finish what is a hometown race for me but I’ve had a virus and I’m gradually coming back.
“I’ve got two teammates doing well in the series and they were fourth and sixth tonight so I just did what I could for them.”
Before the elite men’s race, a crash saw the “Sprint for Success Race” sponsored by Fort Vale halted for a period.
However, Thomas Wood retained his focus for the restart to finish first, Lewis Craven crossed the line in second and 16-year-old Robert Scott was third.
Tom Pidcock (14), Jamie Ridehalgh (15) and Adam Hartley (15) completed the top six.
Cathy Chambers, from Selby, had travelled with son Harrison and daughter Gracie to watch husband Jon race in the Sprint for Success race. She said: “We like these town centre races because it is cordoned off which makes it nice and safe.
“There’s such a good atmosphere to give the riders a boost and with cycling getting bigger, more and more people are coming to watch which is great.”
Helen Seedall, from Fence, said: “I come every year to watch the cycling and support this fantastic local event. It’s been very good again, I’ve really enjoyed it.
“I tend to watch it on the corner and then head down to the finish line just before the end. That way you get to see different aspects of the race; the cornering; changing gear, and the feel of the wind off the riders when they ride at pace down the straight.
“It’s also a good opportunity to see the next generation of riders coming through.”