Staveley’s cycling team are on cloud nine after one of their riders, Dean Watson, was crowned a national champion on Sunday.
Watson won his title at the TLI Cycling UK Closed-Circuit Championships at Oulton Park in Cheshire, with teammate Aaron Chambers-Smith right behind in second.
And the manager of the Andy Moore Autocentres/J.E.James Racing Team could not contain his delight, especially as the triumph coincided with another of their riders, Damien Clayton, topping the UK elite rankings.
“The superlatives just keep on coming!” beamed Andy Moore. “Deano and Smiffy rode away from the peloton in a truly amazing display. It was tactical perfection, absolutely stunning.
“We keep wondering if the enthusiasm of our lads will ever simmer down. But it seems there is no limit to their drive right now.
“Staveley producing the UK’s number one elite rider and the UK national champion! Who would have believed it?
“Deano was immensely powerful throughout, and richly deserves this title. But Smiffy put it all on the line, and the lads see the one-two as a true team victory. This achievement has left us all bursting with pride.”
With Clayton rested for the week, it was down to Watson, Chambers-Smith and Marc Layfield to take on the challenge of the TLI national event.
The sun shone but crosswinds were much in evidence as the peloton quickly got down to business and the early pace was brisk.
Watson looked particularly sharp in the opening stages, with sidekick Chambers-Smith winding up the pace, no doubt keen to spring an escape should the opportunity arise.
After a couple of laps had been completed, a select front group of half a dozen riders opened up a small advantage, with Watson comfortably in tow and Chambers-Smith following close behind, making up a quartet of chasers and also finding space between themselves and the pursuing peloton.
Layfield was active at the head of that bunch, playing an outstanding tactical game, managing the pace to ensure his teammates would gain maximum advantage from the opportunity.
As the race approached its halfway stage, Watson increased the tempo on the circuit’s uphill section, and suddenly found himself with a useful 300-metre gap, his power stretching those in behind.
Seizing the chance, he piled on the pressure further still, and extended the lead to a useful 20 seconds or so, resulting in a tantalising game of cat and mouse as the chasers attempted to neutralise the attack.
With the peloton temporarily abandoning the chase, Chambers-Smith launched a striking counter-attack, which instantly took him clear, with only his teammate up the road.
In a gritty display of determined attack riding, the man they call ‘Supersonic Smiffy’ put in an all-out attempt to bridge across to
the leader, and with much encouragement from the sidelines, he made the move count.
With the two Andy Moore riders together, a disciplined push to keep clear immediately came into play, and the duo pulled out all the stops to extend the advantage to more than 45 seconds.
It was certainly an impressive demonstration of powerplay, and with the finish line in sight, there were no chasers to be seen. Because no team orders were in place, the pair attacked each other in a strong sprint finish, showing true competitive spirit in the rush for the flag.
But it was Watson who took the championship win, with Chambers-Smith right behind in his slipstream.
Full of confidence, the team now move on to this weekend’s schedule, which features a double-header of road racing at Bedfordshire on Sunday and then at Grantham on Bank Holiday Monday.
Added Moore: “Damien will be back on maximum attack, pairing up with Deano.
“Wow, that’s some strike force. Here’s hoping we get the same fireworks that exploded at Oulton Park!”