Capital cyclist Evan Oliphant produced a battling performance to seal a top-ten finish in the opening leg of the six-event British Cycling Premier Calendar Series.
Now riding for Team Raleigh, Oliphant, who had shown good early season form with a podium finish at the Vuelta Mexico the previous week, was in the decisive break in the gruelling 104-mile event at Dengie Marshes in Essex. However, he lost touch in the closing miles and eventually crossed the line in ninth spot.
And it was a familiar face that took the honours, with Oliphant’s former Endura Racing colleague Alex Blain delivering the win for the West Lothian-based outfit.
Blain benefited from the presence of several colleagues in the crucial closing miles and powered clear in the final sprint to get the better of the Australian Ben Grenda (Rapha Condor-Sharp), whose Lothians-based team-mate, James McCallum, found the going tough on a route that featured several off-road sections. Englishman Matt Cronshaw of the Node4 team completed the podium.
Oliphant is among the likely contenders for this weekend’s two-day, three stage, Tour Doon Hame in Dumfriesshire.