Ali Slater’s top ten finish at the 160km Lancaster Grand Prix crowned a day of courageous racing for Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK, in a gruelling new engagement for the elite HSBC National Road Series.
With constant climbs and descents the principal feature of a rolling parcours with some 2,600m of vertical ascent, the route seemed well-suited to a long breakaway attempt. Pre-race talk had described the route as resembling an Ardennes Classic, and this new event, organised by former UCI president Brian Cookson, lived up to the billing.
In reality, while a small break formed in the early phase of the race, the peloton was more or less back together for the decisive ascent of Conder Bottom, a climb with a peak gradient of nine per cent, shortly before the finish. Here, a number of teams lit the touch paper, but despite the efforts of his rivals, Slater was still in the mix at the denouement.
Eighth place for Cherie Pridham’s road captain represented a commendable performance amid a peloton bristling with quality. Winner Ian Bibby (Madison Genesis), who finished fifth overall at last year’s Tour of Britain, was flanked on the podium by runner-up James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling), formerly of UCI WorldTour team Lotto-Soudal, and Dan Tullett (Team Wiggins Le Col), a double junior world cyclo-cross champion.
While Slater led the charge for Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK, several members of the team’s formidable engine room finished together: Mikey Mottram, Chris McGlinchey and Adam Kenway crossed the line with the bulk of the peloton. Kenway, having ridden aggressively in the earlier part of the race, collected third place in the KOM classification for his efforts.
The focus for Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK now turns to regaining fourth position in the team standings to ensure qualification for the Tour of Britain. With seven races remaining on the HSBC National Road Series, as well as the National Championships, several opportunities remain.
Team owner and manager Cherie Pridham said: “Ali had a solid ride and should be pleased with his result. The guys are now looking forward to the Circuit of the Mendips, which is a new course for elite riders and has a pretty tough profile. It should be an interesting challenge for the team, and hopefully a chance to score some more points.”