Corley left battered and bruised after Series double

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WHILE disappointed they weren’t able to achieve a dream podium placing or a result in the top six overall, Team Corley Cycles – Cervélo – Alpha RC were able to look back on their participation in last week’s two rounds of the city Tour Series with the feeling of a job well done.

Acting as only guest participants in the 2011 Series, the Team Corley riders missed out on the first two rounds and the chance to acclimatise to the cut and thrust of the city centre based series, but were still able to play their part in the outcome of both of last week’s races.

And although they weren’t officially placed in the overall results, the general consensus was that – if placed – they would have been sixth or seventh team out of the 11 racing at Peterborough. But after a dramatic crash that occurred in the final laps at Colchester, it was not possible to guesstimate their final finishing position for the Essex round.

The two races could not have been more different – Peterborough’s high-speed corners produced a breathtaking spectacle, preventing any one rider or team dominating as time and again any attacks were brought back.

Colchester’s main feature – a long climb out of a dead turn – forced the break that slipped away at the very start of the race. And once the eventual race winner, Dean Downing of the dominant Rapha-Condor-Sharp outfit, got into that break, the rest of his team chased down any attack and basically blocked the efforts of other riders in their pursuit of a race win.

Matt Higgins was the first Team Corley rider to show his face at the front at Peterborough, and although his attack was short lived, it convinced the rest of the team that they had a role to play in both their ‘guest’ rounds.

As the race reached the final five laps Ian Knight forced his way into the leading group and his continued attacking presence for the next three laps had the team hoping for their dream result but that sadly wasn’t to materialise.

“It was just so fast” was how Knight described the race when cooling down with a cold drink at the finish. “We basically had to sprint out of each of the four corners on every one of the 35 laps and that eventually took its toll and I ran out of steam.”

On Thursday night at Colchester it was even more evident that the team had plans to show their faces at the front of the race, but after they missed the opening two rounds of the Series the team still weren’t hitting the rhythm required to stay near the front.

Undeterred, after the race winning move had flown up the road, Team Corley riders were often seen having a dig at the Rapha-Condor squad until the evening’s proceedings were slowed dramatically by a crash that filled the road with fallen bodies and broken bikes.

“I was taken down in the melee,” explained Team Corley’s Simon Gaywood. “And from then onwards it was purely just a case of trying to do something to make up for a disappointing end to our evening.

Gaywood produced a gutsy effort to recover following his fall, but it was James Millard who gave just about everything in his effort to drag Chris McNamara – the only Team Corley rider not brought down in the crash – to the front of the peloton, but to no avail.

And after the dust at Colchester had settled, Gaywood summed up his and the team’s feelings at the end of their two Tour Series races in 2011.

“The important thing is that we put ourselves up there,” he said. “We could have just sat at the back of the race, but we dug in as a team and certainly were not disgraced. What we all hope now is that the Tour Series organisers recognise the part we have played in both races and invite us back to the whole Series in 2012.”

Proving their versatility, most of the Team Corley riders who competed in the hour-long sprints that make up each Tour Series race were in action again on Sunday in the over 110 mile Ryedale Grand Prix – the latest round of British Cycling’s season long Premier Calendar.

Held around two difficult circuits near the Yorkshire market town of Helmsley, the race is often a pointer to a rider’s form ahead of the National Road Race championship that this year takes place in Newcastle at the end of the month.

Ashley Cox, trained by Team Corley veteran Roy Chamberlain, made it across to a break of nine others after more than 30 miles racing, and that group was then swollen to around 25 riders with over 50 miles racing completed.

With that large group slowly being whittled down, six then broke free leaving Cox to contest the sprint for a seventh place finish overall, but in the end the in-form Corley climber had to settle for a 13th place finish at the chequered flag.