On the Podium left to right, Chris Newton, Ian Wilkinson and Dean Downing
Ian Wilkinson (Halfords) was in the money on Friday night at the Leazes Park Criteriums in Newcastle upon Tyne, when he took home over £1000 for just under an hours work. The Halfords rider got into a break together with Dean Downing and Chris Newton from the Rapha Condor squad together with five other riders at the halfway point and lapped the field.
The breakaway riders worked together and rode through the lapped riders with only five laps remaining. Confusion was averted in the last couple of laps when the leading riders were allowed to move ahead of the main bunch to fight out the sprint finish. Reigning circuit race champion Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) was the favourite to win the sprint, but as the riders came into view of the huge crowd at Leazes Park it was Ian Wilkinson leading the race. Downing was on his wheel followed by team mate Chris Newton but neither of the Rapha Condor riders were able to get around the fast moving Wilkinson.
Wilkinson was delighted with his win and told the crowd he had enjoyed the race and great north-east welcome the riders had been given. The evening started with a series of youth races before the crowd were warmed up with a superb 2/3/4th category race won by Stuart Reid (Wheelbase) from young Ilkley rider Scott Thwaites (Crosstrax).
An invitation celebrity cycling time trial had the crowd banging the barriers in support, but former Premier League footballer Geoff Thomas had to concede defeat to runner Allison Curbishley who sped around the 1km circuit in 1 minute 27 seconds to win a pot of money for her chosen charity. Former world champion and Olympic medal runner Steve Cram was a non starter for the time trial, with an injury, but told the crowd he had passed all his bike training tips onto Allison Curbishley to help her win.
The crowd at Leazes Park was swelled by thousands of cyclists signing on for the Cyclone Challenge taking place on Saturday in the Northumberland countryside. Over 2500 cyclists will be riding the sportive event, and Sunday will see the Beaumont Trophy Premier Calendar Road Race when the best elite riders in the country together with teams from Holland and Ireland will be hoping to secure victory.
Above: Tony Gibb(Madison) leads the bunch early in the race
Above: Ian Bibby (Halfords) had a collision with a spectator crossing the circuit, Bibby injured his shoulder and was taken to hospital for x-rays
Above: Wilkinson and Downing lead the break
Above: And 20 seconds behind Mark McNally controls the front of the chasers for Wilkinson
Above: Circuit Race champion Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) has a stretch of the legs at the back of the leading break
Above: Wilkinson warms it up at the front with 3 laps to go
Above: Chris Newton and Dean Downing protest to the officials about lapped riders still in the bunch
Above: Wilko buries himself on the final lap
Above: ... and wins takes home the £1000 plus prize fund
Above: Action from the 2/3/4th cat race
Above: Stuart Reid (Wheelbase) wins from Scott Thwaites (Crosstrax)
Above: Left: Steve Cram. Right: Geoff Thomas on the start line, note the injuries to his right knee sustained in his warm up.
Above: Madison riders share a joke with Andy Tinsley (SIS) on the start line