Motorpoint - Marshalls Pasta's Ian Bibby was first across the finish line at round 3 of the Halfords Tour Series in Portsmouth last night, helping his team to snatch the overall lead.
Despite the whole squad being delayed by a crash, with Durham winner Malcolm Elliott the main victim, Motorpoint - Marshalls Pasta placed three of their riders in the top eight positions to slip into the orange leader’s jerseys.
They were in part helped by the misfortune of former leaders Rapha - Condor - Sharp, who lost star man Dean Downing to a puncture with just two laps remaining.
The peloton was flat-out from the flag, with a long line of riders soon forming as the train lapped at around the 1min 10sec mark on the 1.3km course. With rain holding off and the circuit beginning to dry out, various teams took the opportunity to set the pace at the front of the speeding pack.
Such was the speed of the racing that it was impossible for any attacks to gain ground, ensuring the peloton circulated as one until a crash on the lap of the first Boardman Bikes Sprint Competition split the field.
Caught out by a pinch in the peloton was Elliott, who retired with injuries to his hand and shoulder, as Evan Oliphant led the front half of the field across the line at the sprint, followed by Jon Mozley and a fast charging Liam Holohan.
For a while the peloton remained fractured as riders took their time to regroup, and that was how it stayed for the remainder of the race, save for brief attacks by the Pendragon - Le Col - Colnago duo of Casey Munro and Yanto Barker.
The fast nature of the course prevented anyone from soloing to victory, as Endura Racing set a fierce pace at the front approaching the finish.
When Downing punctured in the finale and Kristian House was tailed off after an attempted attack, Rapha - Condor - Sharp’s evening was ruined, with the men in black slumping to fourth in the standings as a result, seven points off the pace.
With Bibby, Andy Tennant and Ed Clancy all prominent as the race rounded the final curve, a Motorpoint - Marshalls Pasta victory looked assured, and that was how it turned out, with Bibby holding off Barker and Ian Wilkinson on the line for the win.
The sole bright spot for Rapha - Condor - Sharp was that House retained his overall lead in the Boardman Bikes Sprint Competition, but the British champion saw his lead cut to just one point as Liam Holohan won the evening’s Boardman Bikes Sprint Competition.
To see all the action from Portsmouth, tune into ITV4 at 7pm today for an hour’s highlights show. The Halfords Tour Series is back in action with round 4 from Exeter tomorrow. The Ashfords Community Races will open proceedings, building up the atmosphere in Exeter city centre from mid-afternoon. For more information, visit www.tourseries.co.uk.