Chris Opie toasted victory at the Perfs Pedal and insisted: It was a big deal for us.
As the only UCI Continental team in the race, the newly-formed BIKE Channel Canyon outfit were heavy favourites to carry off the crown.
But despite their arrival in Southwick for the 74km tear-up drawing criticism in some quarters, Opie insisted it was a massive day for everyone involved. He said:
“Sunday was a big day for us all at BIKE Channel Canyon. It was the start of the beginning. After months of quiet hard work, the Perfs Pedal was the earliest opportunity for us to line up as a team and finally get racing.
“You go to a race to win, you go to deliver your best performance. You want to do as well as you possibly can. It was a big deal for us.
“The team is only five months old and a lot of work has gone in to getting us here. Everyone is very excited about what’s to come but it all started at Perfs.”
Opie first won the race in 2012 before finishing second to team-mate Yanto Barker in ONE Pro Cycling colours in 2015. But until the final few kilometres on Sunday, he wasn’t comtemplating becoming a double winner. Opie added:
“That was short and intense. Rory was away after the last climb. He was looking pretty good actually and had a decent gap there for a while.
“I was thinking I just could sit on then and cruise around to the finish. As it was, the other two lads rode really, really well. They pulled Rory back but that meant I could just sit on.
“Then Jack went for it early on the climb to the finish, Rory went after him and I came round them, which was quite nice.”