BIKE Channel Canyon got off to a flying start with victory in the Perfs Pedal in Portsmouth.
Chris Opie sprinted glory after defending champion Rory Townsend had his late solo bid for success scuppered by a superb pursuit from runner-up Jacob Vaughan and fourth-placed Jack Billyard.
Townsend crossed the line third, while Rob Partridge almost bridged across the front group in the finale before settling for fifth place. James Lowsley-Williams was 11th and Mitchell Webber was 12th.
BIKE Channel Canyon sports director Tim Elverson said:
“We were pretty pleased with the result. We wanted to win the race, which wasn’t easy with everyone out to beat us, and put in a good performance.
“Chris won it and for a lot of people was the obvious pre-race winner. Rory had a good go but unfortunately got caught at the back end of the race.
“I think Rory cooked his goose trying to get away. He was away for a while on his own at the end but Jacob Vaughan and Jack Billyard pulled very hard and rode really well to bring him back.
“And then we had Rob, who very nearly caught the front four at the end, while trying not to tow anyone across the gap. That was an impressive finish.
“So first, third and fifth, with Hank (Lowsley-Williams) and Mitchell coming in with the next group, we have to be happy with that for our first race.
“It was a good race. Everyone was aggressive and we will learn a lot from this. There is still a lot of work to be done, it’s a new team but we are delighted to start with a win.”
Alex Richardson, who lit the blue touchpaper for the thrilling 74km battle with a powerful lead into the first climb which prompted a 13-man selection at the front, paid for that effort and slipped back into the third group on the road.