TEAM Manager Toby Dalton refused to be too downbeat after Wheelbase Altura MGD endured a baptism of fire during round two of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series in Barrow.

In their first major criterium race of the season, the Staveley-based outfit failed to hit the higher ranking positions as Rapha Condor JLT’s Graham Briggs claimed the individual plaudits.

Wheelbase’s Tom Barras, Andy Coupe and Stuart Reid all made the front group with a blistering start from the back of the grid.

While Reid began to slip after ten laps, Barras and Coupe stayed in the mix and looked comfortable with an average speed of 28mph.

Held up by a crash on the back straight after an NFTO Pro Cycling rider suffered a rear wheel explosion, Barras and Coupe were unable to chase back the lead group.

And despite being caught and lapped by Briggs and nearest challenger Tom Scully, Dalton believes this performance again demonstrates lofty positions should be the aim.

“There were mixed emotions from the team after the race,” he said.

“It was always going to be a tall order for the team and the lads felt the stress and expectation to perform in front of a home crowd.

“Unfortunately, lady luck was not on the side of Tom Barras and Andy Coupe on the back straight with the group travelling in excess of 35mph.

“At that speed it was impossible to regain momentum, especially on a short circuit.

“We put in a good performance, gripped it in the front pack for the majority of the race and it showed that our riders are more than capable of top ten finishes on the right day.

“Unfortunately Barrow was not the right day but we look forward to rectifying this in next week’s rounds at Durham and Edinburgh.”

Ultimately, Briggs out-sprinted long-time breakaway companion, Madison Genesis’ Scully, on the long final straight after the duo escaped midway through the race.

Great Britain rider Matthew Gibson took third place ahead of Node4 Velosure’s Richard Hepworth, with Madison Genesis claiming the team victory with Mike Northey and Tobyn Horton coming sixth and seventh respectively.

“We all witnessed the speeds at which these guys race at and it showed the talent and athleticism required to be competitive at British Cycling Elite level,” added Dalton.

“Barrow was packed, far busier than we anticipated and the crowds eclipsed those at Stoke in round one. It just shows you how popular cycling and cycle racing has become in the North West.”

Earlier in the evening, Wheelbase Altura MGD’s Joe Richards tasted success in the support race for third and fourth category riders.

Breaking from Felt Racing’s Scott Easter midway through proceedings, Barrow’s Richards rounded his rival in the final 50m to take victory on home soil.