The Stockton Grand Prix marked the second round of the British Cycling Grand Prix Series. Kicking off at 12 noon (UK time) the peloton covered 176km starting and finishing in Stockton Town Centre.
There was plenty of early race action as a gutsy move from Sam Williams and Will Harper saw the ONE Pro duo join an 11 man breakaway. Picking up their pace, a solid gap was established with a maximum advantage of 3 minutes and 25 seconds.
The break continued to work well together but after about 60km, JLT Condor, Metaltek_KUOTA and Neon Velo sent riders to the front of the peloton in a bid to close the gap. Even with the pace at the front picking up, the breaks advantage didn’t show any signs of decreasing but the teams remained committed, eventually bringing the lead group within 1 minute during the run into the finish.
ONE Pro Cycling were looking strong with Williams and Harper working well in the break and the rest of the team sitting comfortably in the peloton, riding together and protecting sprint hopeful Steele Von Hoff.
As the tempo continued to increase, the break started to split and a few riders were shelled due to the sheer intensity, however Sam Williams dug deep and managed to stay away, as JLT Condor continued to set the pace.
Onto the finishing circuit with 6 laps remaining, a small break of 5 riders maintained a 1 minute advantage over the chasing peloton. With laps 5 to go, the pressure really started to show as the break lost cohesion and riders started to attack each other.
In a brave move, Ryss Howells (Wiggins) went clear creating a small gap. Once again Sam Williams went on the attack, leaving what was left of the break in an attempt to bridge across to the lone leader.
JLT knew they were getting close and increased their pace, eager to catch the remaining leaders. The 1 minute advantage was quickly whittled down as the 2 man break were finally absorbed back into the peloton with only 3 laps to go after a gutsy ride.
Preparing themselves for the finish, the teams could be seen organising their sprinters for a gallop to the line. ONE Pro were in a good position but within the final 15km, both Tom Baylis and Kristian House suffered mechanicals within 250m of each other, losing spokes and wheels from what can only be descibed as a busy peloton. Unfortunately this meant losing two members of the sprint train which was due to lead out Australian Sprinter Steele Von Hoff .
With a depleted group and light on teammates, Pete Williams done an amazing job for Von Hoff, protecting him right up until the final sprint.
Von Hoff was in the perfect position on the run into the finish and was the first man to exit the final corner, but with 500m to go, a solo sprint wasn’t an option and after a slight hesitation in an attempt to pick up another sprint train the Australian got swamped, missing the opportunity to open up his trademark sprint.
In the end it was Joshua Hunt who crossed the line first for ONE Pro Cycling taking 7th place on the line. A disappointing finish following a gutsy performance from the team, especially Sam Williams and Will Harper who animated the break throughout the race and Pete Williams who delivered Steele Von Hoff into the final straight.