Metaltek Kuota owner Andy Swain warned their rivals to expect more surprises as the Melton semi-professional cycling team made a stunning start to the British road season.
The new-look team finished second overall at the opening round of British Cycling’s Spring Cup: the Klondike Grand Prix in North Yorkshire.
They bettered the bigger budget likes of Team Wiggins and One-Pro Cycling and were only headed by the newly-formed Bike Channel Canyon, thanks in part to a superb fifth place by George Pym and two other riders in the top 15.
“I’m over the moon with that,” said Swain. “Now we’re a little bigger, we’ve got options and more cards to play.
“This result won’t be a one-off. All the new lads have settled in well and like the support Colin (Sturgess - directeur sportif) and myself are giving them.
“They feel part of something special and on the road we’re not intimidated by anyone. Morale is sky high.”
It was the first time this year all the UK teams focussed their attention at the same event, and Metaltek’s new directeur sportif, and former track pursuit world champion, Colin Sturgess named a strong eight-man squad.
The team sported a healthy mix of climbing ability and sprinters as well as experience and youth with Old Dalby’s Scottish junior international Tom Chandler in the line-up.
After a nervous start, with a crash stopping the race after just 5km, two riders moved clear from the 150-rider peloton after around 16km.
Spotting a chance to take the pressure off the team, Metaltek captain Dan Fleeman jumped across to the duo and created a gap.
Fleeman took the first King of the Mountains points at Saltburn, but then changed his focus to building on the lead as Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) joined the trio, helping stretch the lead over the peloton to almost five minutes at 100km.
The peloton had now woken up to the danger with JLT Condor and One Pro Cycling cutting the gap to the leaders.
With JLT and One Pro not easing off, the race was all back together with just 25km left.
Fleeman, who had been ill the previous week, was now running on empty after three-and-a-half hours at the front, having done his job of giving his team-mates a protected ride.
With 15km left, Metaltek duo Liam Holohan and George Pym tried to escape in a six-man move, but the large peloton, sensing a bunch sprint did not ease up.
A crash with just 1km to go foiled Rhys Lloyd’s chances, but May, Holohan and Pym positioned themselves well and found themselves in the first third of a reduced group as teams tried to find their sprinters.
Pym crossed the line in fifth – his best Premier Calendar result – with May just behind in eighth and Holohan 14th, all behind the hugely talented Team Wiggins rider Chris Latham.
May’s high placing earned him the best under 23 rider award and a trip to the podium.
Tom Neale also shone in a support role, while Tom Mazzone got over the hills and Chandler impressively finished his first-ever senior Premier Calendar.