By Victor Alway
JLT Condor’s Graham Briggs was crowned 2017 men’s elite criterium World Series winner at the Rapha Nocturne Copenhagen on Saturday night as Crescent Dare’s Rykke Lønne took the women’s title in front of a home crowd.
Both riders won their respective races – the first ever Rapha Nocturne event to be held outside Great Britain – around the streets of Copenhagen on Saturday night, with those wins, and high placings in the intermediate sprints, enough to secure overall World Series victory, too.
Briggs led the standings coming into the men’s event, after racking up 33 points in finishing second in London’s first leg, in June.
Two second places in the opening intermediate sprints in Copenhagen, plus a win in the third and final one, saw him going into the finale with a six-point lead over team-mate and London winner Brenton Jones – meaning the winner on the night would take the overall crown.
And a sterling last-lap effort from Briggs was enough to see him across the line first, with Jones finishing in the same time and Denmark’s Casper Folsach coming in third for Vitamin Well.
All of which meant Briggs finished on 69 points, with Jones on 56 and London’s third-place rider Tobyn Horton on 18 for Madison Genesis.
“It was a great circuit. It really demanded a lot of you and you really had to concentrate in the dark,” said Briggs.
“It was super fast and the crowd was great, so it was a really good atmosphere and great to be racing in Denmark.
“You’ll have to ask Brenton if I pulled rank! We’ve just had a good year and it was nice to get a victory, it’s my second one of the year and we’ve done some good lead-outs for Brenton, so I was happy to take the win.”
The elite races concluded an action-packed day of racing on the cobbled streets of Copenhagen, with cargo bike, folding bike and fixed gear among the many events to conclude on the start-finish line outside Øksnehallen.
And Lønne, who did not race in London, completed a fairytale ride in front of a vocal home crowd as she took all three intermediate sprints, before winning the race to the finish line to wrap up a maximum 40 points.
Team Rytger’s Emma Norsgaard finished second on the night with Storey Racing’s Monica Dew in third as her team-mate Ejay Harris’ chances of a World Series title were dashed by two mechanical issues.
As it was, Lønne took the title with 40 points ahead of another Storey rider Neah Evans – absent with a broken collar bone – on 31 points and London winner Lucy Shaw third on 25.
“I don't think I realise how big this is right now,” said Lønne.
“I was just in this race to have fun, then all of a sudden I was in the lead and kept being in the lead!
“So I was like ‘ok, I’m going to stay here’, so I tried.
“Storey Racing were really strong today and Ejay had bad luck with her mechanicals, but I tried my best and watched where they were and tried to get around them when I could, and it worked out.”
The Rapha Nocturne Copenhagen is the final leg of a World Criterium Series with the first leg held in London, in June.
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