Report: Welsh Circuit Series GP

Graham Briggs (Raleigh GAC) won his third round of the Elite Circuit Series in Abergavenny after attacking with almost half a lap to go and no-one was able to close down the gap.

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The Report

Celebrations on the podium after the circuit race in Abergavenny

The race saw only 29 starters with the strongest teams being UK Youth, Raleigh GAC and Rapha Condor Sharp. The fires were lit from the start and quickly a group of five got away with Briggs in it along with two from Metaltek Scott, Dale Appleby and Marcel Six, James McCallum (Rapha) and Matt Jones (Corley Cycles). They quickly opened up a gap and with team managers yelling at their team riders to ride in the chase group to bring it back, the break continued to ride away.

A small but quality field for the event in Wales gets underway.

Into the final quarter of the race though and what was left of the peloton and that was not a lot, were getting close. An effort from Bernie Sulzberger (Raleigh GAC) saw the gap come down and with only a handful of laps to go, it was all together.

Raleigh GAC then got themselves organised to lead out Briggs which they did before the series leader attacked over the same hill which Tour de France stage winner David Millar won the British title on a few year ago and the rest never saw him again.

Tobyn Horton leads an early split

It was a drag race to try and catch Briggs but also get a podium place and McCallum managed to hold off the fast finishing Rico Rogers with the hard working Sulzberger in fourth.

Dale Appleby leads the break which dominated the event and was only brought back in the closing stages.

Post Race Reactions

Graham Briggs (1st, Raleigh GAC) “I didn’t commit 100% to the break. I knew Marcel and Dale would be dangerous and didn’t want to get one-twoed at the end. So I was doing a few turns but not giving it full gas. When it came together, the team (Raleigh-GAC) led it out superbly with five to go. I could not have asked for a better leadout from them”.

“Bernie had to do hundred metres, I got the gap and that was it. I attacked on the back straight where the finish used to be. I got the gap and once I did that, I knew I’d be able to hold it. I knew the other guys were hurting so it was perfect.”

“I haven’t been training too much, café rides mainly and letting the racing do its thing for me. I’ve just come off a break so I am quite fresh. It was quick on the corners tonight. You had to tuck in and if you weren’t on the wheel, you could lose two or three bike lengths.”

“I got a few points in the intermediate sprints so that has hopefully sealed the win in the series. Let the young lads have a go now! I was really pleased to get the win in the Premier after not doing any rides over two hours so the next goal is the Tour of Britain and getting in some quality road miles.”

On being captain of the team and having that responsibility, Graham says “I have tried to believe in myself and my speed at the finish and if I can get there in the right place, I’m good for the podium. It was tough but we have a good team and that helps a great deal.”

Bernie Sulzberger giving it some to bring the break back.

James McCallum (2nd, Rapha Condor Sharp): “The plan was to be in the race from the start. I’ve not driven 380 miles to not get a result and there isn’t a lot of crits left. I’m getting angry and wanting to get a result and I’m surprised I still have that hunger in me because it has been a long year. The Tour Series does take it out of you and it gets to the point where it’s ‘oh no, another crit’ but you have to go with it as it’s what you are paid to do.”

“So you have to muscle up and suck it up and get on with it and so applying that to tonight and I thought, I’m not coming all this way without coming home with something. I’m pretty happy with how it went. Raleigh are so strong just now and they ride real well as a unit. That has been noticeable the last month and they’ve really got their ‘stuff’ together. Hats off to Briggsy. He got the gap and that was it.”

“I was sitting in second place behind JJ (Jeroen Janssen) and then we swung into the home straight and he set it up nicely and then he pulled off and I thought oh no before Holty and Bernie came up the inside and I slipped into third and as I slid in, Briggsy jumped at the brow of the hill so I chased and got round the corner at the bottom in second but by that time, he had five lengths.”

“After that it was flat out to the finish line about 300 metres, and it’s a hard 300 metres but I’m happy as it’s about time I got up there in one of these crits.”

Celebration from Graham Briggs in the dark at Abergavenny well clear of the rest.

Rico Rogers (3rd, Node 4 Giordana) “It hurt from the word go and I never felt I’d warmed up enough and I pushed as hard as I could and thought I was going to get in the early break but it came back and another went. There was only black, white and blue jerseys (Rapha and Raleigh) in that chase group and I knew I had no numbers backing me. I did what I could and then Bernie Sulzberger got on the front and the gap just came down – he’s pretty talented old Bernie ….”

“I sat in a bit then pushed as hard as I could and I knew by that stage I had pretty good legs. In the sprint, Raleigh did such a good job leading it out, that it all split to pieces and it was a matter of holding on. It was a good course tonight. If it had poured down, I’m not sure how much worse it would have been.”

“I think the UK has been difficult for me because I’m a pure sprinter but I’m learning that I can get in the breaks. I suppose I lost confidence because I arrived in such good form and thought I’d do well but it has been a bit of a grind and learning experience. Races like the Tour of Britain will be more controlled and it’s in those races where I can sprint properly.”

The top three, Rico Rogers, Graham Briggs and James McCallum with the first U23 . Zachery May,and a rather delightful looking VIP who seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself!


1. Graham Briggs, Raleigh GAC
2. James McCallum, Rapha Condor Sharp
3. Rico Rogers, Node 4 Giordana
4. Bernie Sulzberger, Raleigh GAC
5. Simon Holt, Raleigh GAC
6. Dale Appleby, Metaltek Scott
7. Matt Jones, Corely Cycles
8. Dean Downing, Rapha Condor Sharp
9. Zachery May, Cardiff JIG (junior)
10. Jeroen Janssen, Raleigh GAC
11. Tobyn Horton, Raleigh GAC
12. Ben Grenda, Rapha Condor Sharp
13. Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott (mechanical)
29 Starters


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