Cyclist Briggs proves best over Capital cobbles
Gritty Yorkshireman Graham Briggs (JLT Condor) shone through the Edinburgh gloom with a dominant performance in last night's third round of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series around a tough one-mile circuit in the city.
The route had been altered from the circuit which was used two years earlier, with several flatter sections incorporated into the revised layout. A gruelling climb up the cobbles of Victoria Street was followed by a second incline towards the Castle and a sharp downhill section before a return to the Grassmarket. But it was the cobbled sections of the route where most damage was done. Despite heavy rain throughout the one-hour 13-minute contest, the pace was relentless from the outset with the riders lapping at around 25 miles per hour.
Local star Evan Oliphant, who had ridden in support of his Team Raleigh colleagues in Sunday’s Lincoln Grand Prix and opted out of round two of the series in Motherwell on Tuesday, preferring to focus on performing well in front of a home crowd, was quickly at the head of proceedings.
He was never far from the front but had no answer when Briggs powered up the cobbled climb of Victoria Street before the halfway point and maintained a metronomic pace as he steadily pulled clear of a field that featured 45 of Britain’s leading road racers. And the pursuers were powerless as he relentlessly edged further away, eventually crossing the line almost a minute clear of the field, with Rory Townsend (Pedal Heaven) and Chris Lawless (JLT Condor) completing the podium.
Defending champions Madison Genesis took the team honours but it is JLT Condor who remain pacesetters as the series heads south of the Border next week. Oliphant appeared to be riding comfortably just off the front for much of the evening, but he lost touch as the pace was ratcheted up in the middle of the race and he eventually crossed the line in 18th spot.
Oliphant’s brother Lewis ensured it was not a fruitless night for the family when he took the honours in the support event.
And there was also a victory for former professional James McCallum, who anchored the Edinburgh Road Club squad to victory in the Brother Corporate Pro-Am relay, an event which raised funds in support of the charity McCallum is supporting in his assault on the North Coast 500 record next month.