The British-based ONE Pro Cycling team continued their successful debut at Professional Continental level, winning the sprints jersey at the Dubai Tour with Marcin Bialoblocki and taking several top 10 placings in the sprint finishes.
Bialoblocki fought to get into the break of the day on stage 2 and then ensured he won all three intermediate sprints. That gave him a total of 15 points and the team helped him defend the jersey on the two remaining stages. The sprint jersey at the Dubai Tour is called the UAE jersey because it is coloured in the country’s colours. It is a huge goal for the local Skydive Dubai and Al Nasr teams but ONE Pro took the jersey back to Britain.
Chris Opie finished seventh on stage 1, ninth on stage 1, and 11th on stage 4, with Yanto Barker also mixing it up in the sprints. Matt Goss made his debut in ONE Pro Cycling colours, too, but was not in the thick of the action. However, the team also made waves in Australia at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour with Dion Smith finishing 10th overall behind Chris Froome after finishing third behind Peter Kennaugh and Froome on the tough first stage. Steele Von Hoff also finished third in the sprint on stage 3.
Team owner Matt Prior was in Dubai to see the racing and was delighted to wake up to hear about results in Australia before seeing his riders in action first hand.
“It’s been a steep learning curve for us having two teams racing in different parts of the world but it’s been outstanding to see the results in Australia and in Dubai, especially considering the names we’ve been racing against,” Prior told Cyclingnews.
“We don’t want to just make up numbers in the races or just be happy to be in the race - sport's not about that. We want to compete and have success but it's always nerve-racking when you come into your first big race because you put things in place, do all the work, but you can only hope that when you race, it shows you’ve done it right. Our results have shown us all that if we keep working like this, we will have success - it will come.”
Bialoblocki has raced on the British scene for several years but seems to have comfortably stepped up a level for 2016 and showed it at the Dubai Tour.
“It’s a really good result for me and the team. It’s always special when you get a jersey,” he told Cyclingnews after the final podium ceremony.
“We worked hard to win it but it’s worth it and our Coach Steve Benton has prepared us well. I got the points during the day I was in the break on stage 2 but the boys worked hard to then ensure I kept it, covering the right moves and attacks, to ensure none of my rivals got the points. It’s good for moral and confidence. We’re on the way up for sure and I am looking forward to my next race with the team already.”
Bialoblocki heads home after the Dubai Tour and is set to ride the early-season Belgian races, while Goss will head to Malaysia later in February for the Tour de Langkawi. He will be joined by Karol Domagalski, John Ebsen, Richard Handley, George Harper and James Oram.