Richard Handley took Rapha Condor JLT’s first win of 2013 at the Clayton Velo Spring Classic on Sunday, the very first race of the team’s domestic season.
Handley won the 47th edition of the traditional northwestern season opener after a tough battle against fellow breakaway companion Ryan Mullen.
The win, that comes only two weeks after the team had returned from their seven-week stint in Australia, was an important one for the team. Team manager John Herety commented,
“I’m pleased that the boys have got off to a winning start here. We didn’t get the result we wanted here last year, but the guys have learned from that and came back and got the job done.”
“It is good too to see that the riders in the team have gained the confidence in themselves through the racing and training we’ve been doing in Australia. And, just as importantly, I think we can see that in the two weeks that they have been home the guys have rested well and adapted to the change in temperature. I want us to keep the ball rolling now, the season starts here.”
Handley who was one of only four Rapha Condor JLT riders to take the line, was pleased that the teams tactics had paid off.
“John had told us to wait as long as possible before committing. We learnt from last year when we chased too hard too quickly, and we’ve learnt a lot from our time in Australia. The other two were really strong in the break, so I knew I had to save as much energy as possible for the sprint. It was a long one, but I timed it perfectly.”
The race that was run off in dry but cold conditions saw the scratch group needing to make up seven minutes on the limit riders. It was only with three laps of the fast flat circuit remaining that the junction was made between Handley’s there man move that had escaped the peloton and a trio of juniors who had tried their luck at holding off the main pack.
Handley’s group soon dispatched the three youngsters, and the win was fought out between the three leaders, with Mullen going first and chancing his arm at a long spring, but Handley coming out the victor.
The team’s next race will be the Eddie Soens handicap next Saturday.