RALEIGH’S Graham Briggs took the opening round of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series at Brighouse on Tuesday evening, beating fellow Yorkshireman Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Sharp) after a race-long breakaway.
Briggs lost his 2011 championship jersey to Endura’s Scott Thwaites at Otley last week, but was a dominant figure in the break of six riders that formed in the opening laps.
Briggs and Downing were joined by another Raleigh rider, Batley’s Liam Holohan, Jack Pullar (Wheelbase), Jake Hales (IG Sigma Sport) and Matt Cronshaw (Node4 Giordana).
The reaction from the bunch was slow, with Rapha Condor Sharp’s former British road champion Kristian House the only man even attempting to bridge to the leaders.
With Holohan working hard on the front for Briggs, within 30 minutes of racing the leaders had lapped the whole field and within 20 minutes they again caught the back of the main group.
With four laps to go, Briggs launched a savage attack and opened up a lead of seven seconds. The Doncaster had a 10 second lead at the bell, with Downing launching a desperate solo pursuit.
Briggs appeared out of the darkness at the start of the finishing straight on Commercial Street, with only metres to spare but had enough time to take the victory salute on the line.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better race really,” said Briggs.
“I was very disappointed after Otley last week when Scott Thwaites took my champions jersey, but I was beaten by a good guy so I don’t have any complaints.
“I wanted to make amends and start this Elite Circuit Series with a good performance. In the break my job was made easier by having my team mate Liam Holohan working with me.
“Also after riding the Tour Series criteriums for the past few weeks my cornering has improved, then to have someone like Dean Downing to follow meant that we were travelling at a very fast pace.
“I was concerned about Dean taking the win tonight and Matt Cronshaw is a very strong rider, he got on the podium at Otley and was a danger man.
“I was confident about winning a sprint but felt good enough to try and win solo.
There was a bit of confusion with the lap board, it seemed to stay on four laps to go for two laps, so I was very relieved to hear the bell ring for the last lap.
“Dean was coming back up to me, I left a bit so that I could kick again if he caught me, but I’d already done enough to win”.
Paul Dixon, riding for race sponsors VS Cycles, took the support race with a dominant solo effort.
Dixon broke away after a handful of laps and never looked like being caught.