Adam Blythe overcame the sensations of imminent cramp to earn the red, blue and white national road race stripes in Stockton, describing his victory as even more special given that he beat Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) to the line.
The Tinkoff rider was trailing Cavendish by half-a-bike length coming into the final 100 metres but overturned the deficit to edge out the 2011 world champion and grab his first win since RideLondon in August 2014.
"You can’t describe [the feeling]," the Yorkshireman beamed. "It is joy, happiness, pure emotion. Especially coming around Cav, everyone knows what he’s like, so coming around him was pretty special."
Blythe, Tom Moses (JLT-Condor), Alex Peters (Sky) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon Hagens Berman) were off the front off the peloton going into the final six laps of the 207km race and held an advantage deep into the fourth lap until a reduced bunch swept them up.
Blythe doesn't believe that he had it harder than any of his competitors but his chances of victory almost came undone as the finish gantry came in sight.
He added: "Everyone wanted to get into that last corner in a good postion. Kristian House hit out and, sadly, I got cramp before that last corner and I thought 'no, no, no, not now', but luckily it didn’t come through and I was able to do my sprint properly.
"It was the same out there for everyone. We were in the group out front and there was a group behind chasing. It was a long, hard day out for sure."
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1