Road: Wilkinson takes Preston GP


Preston Covered Market, Preston, Lancashire
Preston Grand Prix Circuit Races
Event: 8th August 2011
Report: Andrew Kennedy

Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing) was the winner of the final round of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Races at Preston, but Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Sharp) also celebrated victory as he claimed top spot overall in the series.

Wilkinson together with Tom Murray (Sigmasport), Simon Yates (100%ME) and James McCallum (Rapha Condor Sharp) broke clear of the peloton early in the race and forged a gap that allowed them to work smoothly together and remain clear. British Cycling Academy rider Yates had started the move and with Endura, Rapha and Sigmasport riders all represented it had the makings of a race winning combination. The rain earlier in the day had now dried which meant the greasy surface of the shopping precinct roads were less treacherous than they had been for the women's championship race.

With Wilkinson, Murray, Yates and McCallum flying around the circuit there seemed to be some confusion behind about who should organise a chase. Initially the Rapha Condor Sharp team policed the front of the peloton, but with Graham Briggs keen to show off his new Circuit Race Champions jersey and both Dean Downing and Dean Windsor battling for the series overall the Rapha boys had torn loyalties. The question on their minds was probably "is Jimmy Mc capable of beating Wilko in the final sprint". That question would be answered at the end of the race, and the result would not sit happy with team boss John Herety.

Wilkinson celebrates after winning from a four-man breakaway

Tom Murray was very active in the break and collected further points by challenging for the intermediate sprints. This upset the rhythm of the breakaway but within half a lap they were back into team time trial mode.

With four laps remaining it looked to be all over bar the podium selection. The winner was surely to come from this small group with one guy bitterly disappointed not to collect his flowers, cash and champagne. With the big crowd in the covered market getting ready for the final showdown, suddenly Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp) exploded out of the front of the chasing peloton. House had won this race last year and clearly thought he was in with a chance

of not only catching the leaders but flying past them to claim victory. It was a brave move and at the bell House was only a handful of seconds behind the leaders. Rapha team mate McCallum was possibly the only beneficiary of this late attack by House in that he got the chance to sit on the back of the group for the final couple of laps.

As the leaders rode through Preston's covered market to begin their final lap Ian Wilkinson sat on the front looking extremely confident. On the main road section he launched an attack which took him to the very tight final corner. Wilko led into the corner with McCallum right by his side, the final 200 metres to the line and McCallum was forced to concede victory to Wilkinson with Tom Murray third. Yates held onto fourth place and Kristian House faded on the last lap to come in 18 seconds behind the winner.

Dean Downing finished in 8th place and comfortably won the season long British Cycling Elite Circuit Series Trophy.

1. Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing)
2. James McCallum (Rapha Condor-Sharp)
3. Tom Murray (Sigma Sport)
4. Simon Yates (100% ME)