After one of the most dramatic races in the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic’s 13-year history, there was still time for one more twist on the podium.
Race winner Dan Fleeman had sprayed the champagne and manfully juggled an armful of prizes before presenting his yellow jersey to ecstatic Metaltek Kuota team boss Andy Swain.
It was a touching gesture from the Metaltek team captain who secured the biggest single-day race win of his career after three previous top 10 finishes in Sherrard Street.
“I wanted to give him the jersey as a mark of respect and on behalf of everyone who has ridden for Andy’s teams over the years,” Fleeman said.
“It means more to me to give him the jersey than winning the race for myself. It was time to pay him back.
“There are a lot of guys here who wouldn’t be racing today if it wasn’t for Andy.
“I had stopped racing for about two years when I bumped into him at the Bike Show and he convinced me I had more to give and to come back into the sport.”
Fleeman’s win came courtesy of a stunning team effort in one of the quickest-ever editions.
Metaltek still had virtually all of its six-man squad together as they fought to support their team captain’s bid, with Zach May also taking a fine seventh place.
“I said to the guys last night I wanted to be on the podium after finishing in the top 10 three times and they said they would back me and ride for me,” said Fleeman, a former winner of the Tour of the Pyrenees, “I couldn’t have done it without them.
“We thought the break would come back and kept our powder dry, and when it came down to 25 or 30 riders we became active.
“I said I would follow the moves or attack, and coming down to the last sector at Stapleford Park I attacked.
“Three of us got away and then one guy got dropped.
“When it was three of us I wasn’t that confident, but when the guy from Madison (Matt Holmes) got dropped I thought we must be doing well because he is a strong rider.”