Hand cyclist Brian Alldis admitted he was speechless after fans roared him to second place in the inaugural Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Bury St Edmunds-based cyclist narrowly missed out on top spot to Austrian Walter Ablinger in a thrilling blanket finish down the Mall involving fellow Brits Chris Madden, Alistair Corps-Bell and Swiss racer Heinz Frei, who claimed third place.
West Suffolk Wheelers member Alldis, who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, was a Paralympian in 2008 but missed out on London 2012 selection after switching sports from wheelchair racing to hand cycling.
But after dominating the domestic circuit this summer, Alldis was well placed to capitalise at Prudential RideLondon, the biggest festival of cycling ever held in Britain.
Racing for half an hour on a 1.3-mile loop around St James’s Park, starting and finishing on The Mall, the former Hardwick Middle School pupil was never off the pace, finishing just a second behind Ablinger as the pair crossed the line.
“This is completely a new experience, I’m speechless, there was a crowd all the way around,” said Alldis.
“It’s just great to be able to race like this.
“It was a really hard race, we were all taking turns at the front, I was struggling to maintain a higher speed so I held back for a couple of laps but then the sprint finish came, Walter sprinted really fast and he’s a really strong guy so I’m really happy with second.”
The hand cycling Grand Prix – which featured a top class international field of men and women – was just one of the events held on a course which passes several of London’s iconic landmarks on Saturday.
Straight afterwards double Olympic champion Laura Trott claimed victory in the women’s Grand Prix from Hannah Barnes and Australia’s Loren Rowney.
Twenty-four hours later some of the world’s best male pro riders contested the 100-mile race along the Olympic road race route, with up to 20,000 amateur cyclists, including the likes of London Mayor Boris Johnson, taking on the same course earlier.
And Alldis said he hoped to see Prudential RideLondon grow even bigger in 2014, and build on the legacy of last summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“The course was amazing, it was really fast at points we were clocking over 30mph and it was great fun,” he added.
n Prudential RideLondon took place on Saturday and Sunday. If you’re inspired to ride, visit www.prudential ridelondon.co.uk