Tour Series in Milton Keynes RD1

Tour Series in Milton Keynes RD1

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2009 Tour Series: Milton Keynes RD1

May 21st, 2009; Milton Keynes (Buckinghamshire)
Report & Pictures by Larry Hickmott

Briggs brushes off
injury to win in Milton Keynes

The fir
st round of the Tour Series has been won by Graham Briggs whose team, CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta also won the team prize. After a very attacking race, Briggs who suffered cracked ribs in a crash at the Chas Messenger recently and British Road Race champion Rob Hayles (Halfords Bikehut) got away from the rest of the field field in the closing laps and held on where Hayles crossed the line first but after a protest was relegated to second.

The event
Since I got involved in cycling back in the early 70's, town centre racing has always been a great way for the sport to be taken to the people. Much of our sport takes place on quiet roads in the country away from the traffic but when a bike race comes to a town centre, there is generally a big crowd there to watch it as we have seen with the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series and the Nocturne crits. Such events are the perfect way to show people how exciting the sport can be and this year, the sport has more town centre racing than ever before.

The latest town centre cycle racing series, the Tour Series, saw ten teams of the best riders in Britain converge on Milton Keynes, a town that has been steadily growing since it was created in the 60's, taking the name from the nearby Milton Keynes village.

The day began on Thurday with the assembly of all the event furniture and getting their hands dirty were everyone in the Tour Series team. Walking around on arrival, Mick Bennett, Graham Jones and other well known figures in the organisation were all out there making sure the Tour Series had a strong presence in Milton Keynes. By the end of the day prior to the main race, it was like a stage finish of the Tour of Britain with only the name on the boards and banners different.

The support events, organised by the local council, including a relay race for local businesses and residents and that was followed at 4pm by a large gathering of school children from around the region for the British Cycling Go-Ride activities. These took place in the car park and then on the Tour Series course with a group of 80 plus children from schools as far away as London to add to those from the region around Milton Keynes. Not only were there the local photographers and those from the event to capture the Go-Ride in action, but also the cameras from ITV4 who are showing highlights of the race on Friday night (May 22) at 7pm.

A relay race for locals started proceedings.

The relay races were followed by British Cycling Go-Ride activities for more than 80 school children
Whilst the Go-Ride activities on and off the course were winding up, the riders in this first ever Tour Series started to arrive. Yanto Barker was the first, there to ride for Sigma Sport for the first time and he was quickly the focus of the TV cameras and with a cycling clothing range (Lecol) to promote, Yanto was happy to talk to the ITV4 presenter. As the riders came into the Church of Christ where the changing rooms were, as well as the media, the rain tumbled out of the sky but with two hours to go for the event, the riders were hopeful it would blow over which thankfully, it did. As the sun came out, the riders ventured out onto the course although some, like Olympic Gold medallist Ed Clancy found there was little time for a warm-up as he was in demand by the TV cameras, both local and national, for interviews.

As the riders warmed up, people from Milton Keynes started to assembled at the circuit. It wasn’t a huge crowd by the standards set by the Tour of Britain finishes but there were certainly enough along the start/finish straight to do justice to a big event like this. To help whip up some enthusiasm, riders came onto the stage to sign on and selected riders like British Road Race champion Rob Hayles,  Duncan Urquhart who’s day job is in an army tank, ‘local’ Tony Gibb who has a World Championship Silver medal to his name, former world junior pursuit champion Andy Tennant and British Circuit race champion Dean Downing were among the victims to be interviewed on stage. The noise of the race was certainly growing with interviews and music emanating from the speakers and the colour of a cycle race invading the space in central Milton Keynes as the sun shone down.

With 15 minutes to go, the riders mascots were lined up on the start, all 10 in team clothing and with Tour Series flags to wave as riders were lined up 50 metres from the start line. Then, one-by-one, the teams were brought to the line with Corley Cycles the first team. Simon Gaywood was the first rider and the rest of the team were lined up behind him on the line. By the end of the introduction sequence, all 10 teams had one rider on the start line with the rest of the time lined out behind them. At 7pm, the siren was sounded, the Union Jack waved and the riders were off with Malcolm Elliott getting his team, CandiTV/Mashalls Pasta off to a great start.

What followed was an hour of attacking racing as riders tried to get their team into the best position to win the race and a share of the prize money on offer. Overall for the series, there is more than £60,000 to share and on the night alone, the three primes were worth £250 each. In the early laps, Rob Hayles (Halfords Bikehut) was keen to get started as was Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) in his British champion’s skinsuit although this time with black shorts in case it rained! Simon Holt (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) was especially active in days which reminded me of some of his exploits in the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series races.

Higgins gets the second prime watched by chief comm, Colin Docker.

 There was also action in the pits where Olympic Champion Ed Clancy came in after breaking his chain, not the only rider to have such a problem during the race. The race also saw some crashes with Will Bjerfelt (Sport Beans/Wilier) involved in two of them and one of the Corley Cycles rider coming off too and having to retire to get medical treatment. Back out on the course and Jason White of the team  was showing his team’s colours out front, holding on to beat Matt Cronshaw of Rapha Condor for the first sprint and the 250 quid on offer. More breaks formed, and as before, they came back to the field as the riders did their sums and looked at who were up the road and then those teams not represented well enough, would close the break down in the space of a lap or so.

 Some breaks though were more profitable than others. Jason White had earlier picked up some money for his team with a break and Matt Higgins did the same, getting away alone around the time a prime was being announced and he soloed around for a few laps to hold off the bunch, just, for a well worthwhile effort.  Matt Rowe of CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta was another rider who again, soloed around the course to take a £250 prime. Once he was brought back, more breaks followed. One promising looking one was when Rob Hayles joined Tony Gibb out front but even the fire power of these two riders was not going to hold off the chase behind and first Graham Briggs joined them and then the rest of the group which was splitting with the effort required to make the jump across the gap.

Graham Briggs starts the winning move.

 By now, we were at the business end of the race and Graham Briggs made his break for freedom and Rob Hayles quickly saw the danger. Behind, heads were being buried, teeth bared and sweat pouring off the face as riders chased with everything they had lead by Billy-Joe Whenman of the Sport Beans/Wilier team.  But for some, after an hours of full on racing, the event was taking its toll and heads were also starting to drop on many riders.

 Hayles and Briggs continued to lead by only a handful of seconds but it was still a lead that looked enough to bring one of them the victory. No amount of pleading from Tony Gibb to the others for help in the chase was making a difference to the gap the leader’s had. Dan Craven of Rapha Condor who had finished second at Hillingdon the Sunday before, did a sterling turn at the front to try and bring them back but it was to no avail and the leaders came round the bottom u-turn on the circuit and faced a long sprint up the drag to the finish.
Hayles lead it out, on the right and then Briggs made his move on the left of him but Hayles saw him coming and started to move over to the left, making Briggs think twice about coming through. The CandiTV rider tried to but Hayles was making him work hard for it and as they crossed the line, Hayles first, Briggs second, his arm raised in protest. It was going to be down to the judges on that one.

Simon Gaywood wins the bunch kick

Meanwhile, in the bunch kick, local Simon Gaywood won the sprint for third and as the riders slowed down as they did one more lap of the course, we waited for the results. First on stage was Matt Cronshaw, winner of the Sprints competition on the night. Then, the winner of the race was introduced, and the judges had indeed given it to Graham Briggs. Finally, this was a team race and it was the team of Graham Briggs who had got more riders into the leading positions, with Malcolm Elliott in 5th place and Simon Holt in 8th. The first race in the Tour Series was over and for many of us, we now knew what the series had in stall of us!

Post Race reactions
Graham Briggs (winner):
“I’m pleased with that win tonight – it’s good for morale and good for the team. I had to have three or four days off the bike after my crash and then I started training hard after that on the turbo because I couldn’t pull on the bars so I’m pleased with how the form is. The race here had a really good atmosphere with the music and a quite a lot of people here.” On the move at the end, he said it wasn’t a planned one. “The best place was to be up front and I was just following wheels. I felt good out there.”

Malcolm Elliott (5th and part of winning team): “Personally I didn’t feel the best out there but that said a lot of people seemed to be struggling here tonight. It was a hard circuit to ride away on and one that lends it self to a group finish. We were watching the combinations go and you had to think differently in this race. I think we would still be in these jerseys (Tour Series leaders) now if Graham hadn’t been awarded the win. I am very pleased with how we rode tonight – the lads in the team were fantastic and we were more than a match for anyone else. Everyone in the team knew their job out there tonight and it showed in the result.”

Dean Downing (6th): “The team format makes it an interesting race and you have to watch out for all your teammates and we rode well as a unit. Matt went for the first sprint and  got second and then went again for the next one and ended up with the sprints jersey so that is really good for the team to have him on the podium. It all went a bit hectic at the end. The last five laps were really fast and we were trying to keep riders at the front. It was a really fast and frantic race for the first round.”

“It was a very different race from a normal crit. At  one point, I think with 7 or so to go, there was like a eight or more riders away and myself and Tony (Gibb) were at the front and Tony said to me, how many have you got up here and I said two, and he said we have two as well. And we looked up and Pinarello had two but because other teams had no riders in it, they chased us down. The format was making it quite tactical.”

 Rob Hayles (2nd). At the time we spoke to the rider who crossed the line first, Rob had  he had been relegated to last which was what was said at the start/finish line but in fact, he had been relegated to second or last in his ‘group’. “The first I heard of it was in an interview and still no-one has spoken to me. I think there was enough room to come through and I wasn’t going to swing over for him. We only had two riders in the race (Ed Clancy had lost four laps with a broken chain) and so we had to get something out of it. I was absolutely screwed out there so to pull the win off I was well happy and the ride is a massive confidence boost that I needed. It was a fantastic race, they (the crowd) loved it and it was really really good and for me, that all gets nullified by a decision like that and the way it was done”. 

 That Sprint

Start of the sprint and 'killer' Rob Hayles is not going to gift it to Graham Briggs who like Rob is no slouch in a sprint.

Side by side they battle it out for the victory

Hayles crosses the line first but Briggs has something to shout about. The judges thought so as well.

The spoils of victory end up going to Graham Briggs.

Team winners, CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta.

1.  Graham Briggs CANDI TV - MARSHALLS PASTA 1
3.  Simon Gaywood TEAM CORLEY CYCLES 3
4.  Stephen Adams PLOWMAN CRAVEN - MADISON 4
5.  Malcolm Elliott CANDI TV - MARSHALLS PASTA 5
6.  Dean Downing RAPHA - CONDOR 6
10.  Joe Skipper BMC UK RACING TEAM 10
12.  Liam Holohan RAPHA - CONDOR 12
13.  Grant Bayton SPORT BEANS - WILIER 13
14.  Jeroen Janssen PLOWMAN CRAVEN - MADISON 14
16.  Will Bjergfelt SPORT BEANS - WILIER 16
17.  Dean Shannon BMC UK RACING TEAM 17
19.  Ben Luckwell SPORT BEANS - WILIER 19
20.  Ben Thompson BMC UK RACING TEAM 20
21.  Billy-Joe Whenman SPORT BEANS - WILIER 0
23.  Gareth Montgomerie SIGMA SPORT CYCLING TEAM 23
25.  Mark Perry SPORT BEANS - WILIER 0
26. Rhys Lloyd RAPHA - CONDOR 26
27.  Matthew Higgins TEAM CORLEY CYCLES 27
28.  Andy Lyons BMC UK RACING TEAM 0
29.  Raphael Deinhart CYCLINGBARGAINS.COM 29
30.  Richard Cartland TEAM CORLEY CYCLES 30
31.  Roy Chamberlain TEAM CORLEY CYCLES 0
32.  Scott McRae ENDURA RACING 32
33. Matt Cronshaw RAPHA - CONDOR 0
34.  Jerone Walters SIGMA SPORT CYCLING TEAM 0
35.  Duncan Urquhart ENDURA RACING 35
36.  Dan Craven RAPHA - CONDOR 0
38.  Edward Clancy TEAM HALFORDS BIKE HUT 38
39.  Matthew Fostum CYCLINGBARGAINS.COM 0
40.  Alistair Robinson ENDURA RACING 40


1. CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta
2. Plowman Craven/Madison
3. Rapha Condor
5. Sport Beans Wilier
6. Sigma Sport
8. Corley Cycles
9. Team Halfords Bikehut
10. Endura Racing