Hundreds of people lined the streets of Colne town centre on Wednesday night to see home town Olympic gold medal hero Steven Burke take part in the 10th Colne Grand Prix.
But there was to be no glory for the local man – instead it was his team pursuit team colleague Ed Clancy who came home with the honours as he took the chequered flag after a exhilarating dash over the last lap of 850 metres.
For while Burke’s forte is the 4,000 metres of the team pursuit course and he spent much of the race towards the rear of the main pack, Clancy is an all-rounder with past experience of the Colne circuit, having won here in 2011 and being runner-up in 2010.
And he brought that experience to the fore as he positioned himself among the front runners for most of the race before taking the lead for the first time on the last lap to edge out Dean Downing (Madison Genesis) – winner in Colne in 2010 and another cyclist who has done well in other races here – and his Rapra Condor team mate Felix English into the minor podium placings.
As the record field of around 90 cyclists took to the course around Market Street and Craddock Road – described by the race announcer as one of the fastest circuits they face during the national series – crowds packed down both sides of Market Street to cheer them on and saw the lead change hands on almost every lap with very few clear breaks – and those riders that did manage to get away saw themselves quickly reeled back in by the peloton of chasing cyclists within a lap or two.
Over the hour-long duration of the race, it was anyone’s guess who would win – although the race announcer’s tip Kristian House, a past winner of the Tour of Pendle, dropped out with two laps remaining and the hopes of another Rapra Condor rider, Elliott Porter, were dashed when he was involved in an accident at the mid-point.
Prior to the big race, there had been plenty to keep the crowds entertained.
The night had begun with young members of Cycle Sport Pendle riding a lap of the course, followed by a support riders race of 32 laps which was won by Bill Nickson, with James Chamberlain second and Matthew Pearce third and Henrietta Colborne being the first female home.
There was then some light-hearted relief as local Chopper riders held a one-lap race followed by a bout of “chopper jousting” which saw two riders carrying poles with boxing gloves on the end unsuccessfully try to dislodge each other from the saddle.
There was also a contest to see who had the best Bradley Wiggins-type sideburns – genuine or otherwise – in tribute to last year’s winner of the Tour de France – the winner being Ella Redhead.
Highlights of the night will be shown on sports channel Eurosport in the next days.