Just over a month short of his 49th birthday, Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta rider Malcolm Elliott led the way to take his first ever Halfords Tour Series win in Durham, describing the race as "absolute purgatory."
"Every possible obstacle you could have on a crit course, it was here. It was so hard it was almost comical," said Elliott, whose teammate Andy Tennant described the race as, "the toughest criterium I've ever ridden."
Elliott was a member of a race-long break, holding off fellow escapees Kristian House and Dave Clarke to take the win, helping his Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta team to take the victory and move into second in the series standings.
On an incredibly testing course, featuring a long, cobbled climb up to the finish arena from Durham city centre, the tactics of the 10 professional teams were tested to the max.
With the peloton split into several small groups from early in the race, teams had to pay maximum attention to the position of their leading three riders on the road in order to stay in with a chance of claiming the round win.
Tactics came to the fore, with the race boiling down to a duel between the Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta and Rapha-Condor-Sharp teams, but when three of the series-leading teams were lapped mid-way through the race, the advantage swung firmly in the direction of Motorpoint.
The orange-and-black-clad team of Phil Griffiths were at the fore from the start, with Elliott explaining afterwards that he knew the significance of heading into the 'dead' turn at the bottom of the climb as one of the first five or six riders.
Hence when Tennant attacked swiftly and strongly on lap three Elliott was one of three riders able to go with him on the climb, the others being Rapha-Condor-Sharp duo House and Darren Lapthorne.
The four set about steadily building their advantage, with Dave Clarke and Gareth Montgomerie joining them after a quarter of an hour to make a sextet.
With Griffiths relaying news of third Motorpoint man on the road Ed Clancy to his leading two riders, the team could gauge its progress against its rivals, and when the leading group lapped the three Rapha riders, victory was all but confirmed.
Come the final lap Elliott made his move out of the final corner, holding off House and Clarke by some distance, with the Pendragon-Le Col-Colnago the last rider on the leading lap.
Crossing the line arms aloft, Elliott's victory was made all the sweeter by him helping Motorpoint to the round victory, its third-ever series win.
The luck though wasn't with Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta teammate and Olympic medallist Steven Burke however, whose race, like that of several other riders including Yanto Barker and round one winner Tony Gibb, was marred by a crash that left his Opera beyond repair.
In the Boardman Bikes Sprints Competition, second placed finisher Kristian House took a dominant victory on the night for Rapha-Condor-Sharp, winning all three Boardman Bikes Sprints to take the lead in the competition, five points clear of Raleigh's Liam Holohan.
The Halfords Tour Series is back in action with Round Three from Portsmouth on Tuesday night.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|9||Team Corley Cycles|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|1||Malcolm Elliott (Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta)|
|2||Kristian House (Rapha-Condor-Sharp)|
|3||Dave Clarke (Pendragon-Le Col-Colnago)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|9||Team Corley Cycles||4|
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