MATT Jones led the Stacey Bushes-based Team Corley Cycles-Blue outfit in Oxford on Tuesday evening as they produced the best performance by a guest team in the Tour Series this year.
With the cream of Britain’s racing talent taking part in the televised race, including Ed Clancy and Steven Burke – two of Team GB’s potential Team Pursuit gold medallists at the Olympic Games –Jones and his four team-mates were always going to be hard pressed to out-perform some of the Tour Series regulars, but that didn’t stop them from trying.
The 1.1km ‘Y’ shaped circuit provided an amazingly fast spectacle for the huge crowd that lined the roads, but one that also proved to be a difficult challenge for the riders as they faced four dead turns in every lap of the nearly 70 minute race.
As a guest team, the Corley boys had to line up at the back of the grid behind the Series regulars, but the team’s distinctive red and black colours were in the thick of the action from the off as Mike Smith wasted no time in immediately mixing it with the riders at the front of the race.
Such was the speed of the peloton that riders at the back of the field soon found themselves drifting even further back as the elastic effect of the fast men at the front left them way behind.
At the front, Smith did all he could to stay with the leading riders and was soon joined by Jones as they battled to hold on to their position with the latter doing all he could to stay on Clancy’s back wheel.
Moving into the last 20 minutes of the race, a group of a dozen riders pulled away and Jones was the highest placed Corley rider as he fought for a place in the top 20 in the next group back.
At the bell lap, Jones was clearly visible at the front of his group when they started their final circuit, but 1.1kms later as they chased towards the finishing line he wasn’t able to hold his position and eventually took the chequered flag in 23rd place.
With another guest team invite to fulfil this coming Tuesday at Peterborough, the team hopes that perhaps another quality performance may lead them to be invited to another round of the prestigious series.
>> Newport Pagnell’s Roy Chamberlain had to settle for second place when he lost out to Team Zappi’s Dexter Gardias at the end of Sunday’s 130km British Cycling Central Divisional road race championships.
The Team Corley Cycles-Blue racer was chasing his seventh win in this prestigious race, but it was Gardias who picked up the divisional honours by just two seconds after over three hours of hard racing.
More than 70 riders started the race, which comprised of three laps on the 17km Astwood circuit, before the convoy moved to the tight, triangular Cranfield circuit for 21 laps that were made even more difficult by the nagging head wind that blew down on the riders as they climbed to the top of the course.
Chamberlain and his team-mate Matt Jones were active in the early stages of the race, and after the Astwood laps had been completed they were part of the more than half a dozen riders who had opened a gap of over 20 seconds as the Cranfield laps started to be counted down.
With most of the leading group taking turns to fight into the wind on the climb, they continued to hold the lead at around 40 seconds for several laps, while behind them combinations of riders attacked but were pulled back into the ever reforming peloton.
The leading seven riders pushed their lead to over a minute, and with seven laps to the flag Chamberlain and Jones pushed down even harder on their pedals to pull away from the rest.
A Zappi rider slowly clawed them back slightly, but it still looked likely that Team Corley-Blue would take a third successive Central Divisional championship. However, behind them Gardias and team-mate Will Fox were slowly moving from one group to another as they clawed they were towards the front and with that added impetus, the three leaders started to look vulnerable.
As the race moved into the final three laps a junction was finally made with the lead group now being around eight strong, including two Team Corley men and three Zappi riders, who couldn’t afford to mess around as a hungry peloton was now only ten seconds behind them.
Turning into the kilometre long, slightly downhill finishing straight for the last time, Gardias and Chamberlain edged away but, despite his knowledge of what are often his training roads, Chamberlain couldn’t hold off his younger opponent as Gardias won.
New to the Team Corley-Blue line up, Liam Stones joined Chamberlain in the top four in the Divs, with Jones also just slipping into the top 10.