NEW to the colours of Team Corley Cycles in 2012, Matt Jones gave the Milton Keynes team a near dream start to the racing season, finishing second – and winning the U23 competition – in the Severn Bridge Road Race.
After competing in Saturday’s Eddie Soens Handicap at the Aintree circuit, arguably the biggest closed circuit race of the year with over 200 riders taking part, the drive to Bristol saw Jones and his team-mates facing much stiffer competition with all the top UK teams represented in force.
Each of the 10 laps around the Bristol circuit included one big climb that tops out around 700 metres from the finish, so anyone contesting the race win would have to have taken their climber’s legs as well as leaving plenty in the tank for the lengthy sprint to the line.
Mike Smith represented Corley Cycles in the five-man break that featured in the opening lap, but as they were pulled back, Jones led the first major attack of the race and was quickly joined by another pair of riders.
This break formed the nucleus of 10 riders than headed the race by the end of lap three and that worked well together to open up a gap of nearly 30 seconds, but always still within sight of the main field.
Carrying on their endeavours, this group stayed away until lap seven when eventual winner Marcin Bialoblocki (NODE4 Giordano Racing) broke away on his own.
Bialoblocki continued pulling away and as his chasers started playing around, his lead stretched to around the minute mark. That group then lost some riders, leaving just five to fight it out for second place.
“Colin Parry dug in hard on the final climb, and as we crested the top and hit the finishing section, I countered his attack, pulled past him and was pleased to open a gap of a few seconds at the chequered flag,” said Jones. “For the first proper race of the year, I was pleased with that.”
It’s a completely new set-up for Jones at Team Corley this year having ridden in France in previous years, and last year for another of the country’s top racing squads.
“It’s a smaller team than the outfit I rode for last year but nonetheless, I’m very pleased to be riding for Phil and Dick,” he said.
“There’s a great atmosphere around and in the team and the set-up is small but very good. Because of the team’s size I can also see what’s happening behind the scenes and that makes me want to work even harder for the team.
“As the current U23 National Crit champion I obviously want to do well in the crit calendar throughout the year and will be particularly focusing on the Tour Series – if the team gets an invite this year. That would then be a massive objective for me.”