Tour Series 2009 (Stoke-on-Trent)
June 16, 2009; Round 6
Pictures by Larry Hickmott (); Report: Event press release
CandiTV''s Russell Downing wins the race but Team Halfords take their place at the head of the Tour Series table whilst Rapha Condor win the Team award in Stoke
Top team on the night! Rapha Condor with Rhys Lloyd, Chris Newton, Liam Holohan, Dean Downing and Kristian House.
Team Halfords Bikehut finally moved to the top of the podium on this year’s Tour Series, but this time it was in the all-important overall Team competition. A rejuvenated Rapha-Condor squad took the Team win on night, with some great riding from a strong quintet including Chris Newton, British Champion Dean Downing and former local, Kristian House.
The men-in-blue, heralding the Tour Series leading team, were the Candi TV-Marshall Pasta team, however as they relinquished the jerseys to the men-in-orange (Halfords) they took the consolation of the individual win at their home race. Russell Downing had ear-marked this round of the Tour Series and didn’t disappoint the many Candi TV fans present, as he won a bunch sprint by the narrowest of margins.
Stoke-on-Trent came out in force to welcome the Tour Series as the bright evening sunshine showed off all that is great about this form of bike racing. The huge crowd enthusiastically banged the boards from the moment the flag was dropped by the Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent until Downing crossed the line to a rapturous welcome.
The tight, technical and relatively hilly Stoke circuit, was always going to suit those lighter, punchier riders, and in particular the Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta team. However as Rob Hayles and the Halfords squad stretched their legs on the front after five laps, it was clear that the bigger guys in the Tour Series field were going to have something to say about that.
As the first sprint of the night passed - taken easily by Rapha-Condor man Chris Newton, an Olympic Bronze medallist, – a group of five riders put the hammer down and caused a considerable split in the group, which was already beginning to thin after 15 minutes. A perky and ‘fresh-back-from-Canada’ Rapha-man Kristian House led the field through, as the select foray was quickly pulled back into order.
After all of the talk of the big four Teams at the Tour Series, it was good to see the likes of www.cyclingbargains.com and Sigma Sport mixing it heavily at the front, however Rapha-Condor seemed to have the bit between their teeth for this one, and an attack by James Cambridge was closed down by that man Kristian House. CandiTV, Halfords and Madison were playing a cagey game at this point as the stakes become higher and higher in this 10-round Series
Sprint two signalled another raising of the already relentless speed, and Dean Downing took the second win of the night for Rapha-Condor boys. The pace was obviously proving too much for some of the riders as small splinter groups were struggling to hold the back of the main group after 35 minutes of the hour had elapsed.
This racing was very different from the two previous rounds which saw very early breaks of four riders escaping and successfully holding the advantage to the finish, and the eyeballing of the leading teams meant that this one was going to stay together right until the final laps.
Winner of the sprints was Dean Downing on the podium with the legend Les West who had been racing earlier in a veterans race.
Sprint three went to Rapha-Condor, as Chris Newton went for the long one and rolled across the line with 50 metres to spare. This attack signalled a move to the front for the Madison and CandiTV teams, with Madison’s Jerome Janssen chasing Newton with Candi TV man Russell Downing attached to his back wheel. As they scooped up the Rapha rider, Graham Briggs dragged the remaining 35 riders through the start/finish area as the clock ticked towards 50 minutes.
If nothing else, tonight’s round showed that the Tour Series is a team event, and with five laps left, it was great to see a small break of six containing riders from the Sigma Sport, Sport Beans, Halfords, Endura, Corley Cycles and Rapha-Condor teams. The finish was to be a multiple rider, and multiple team affair.
With two laps to go, Evan Oliphant tried desperately to ride out to the finish, however with four Halfords riders on the front of the chasing group, this was always going to be a big ask. The team of the last three rounds had left it until the final 2 kms to show their hand but CandiTV were going to make a fight of it as the whole field rounded the last corner.
With 200 metres to go and Russell Downing, Ian Wilkinson and Dean Downing were spread across the road, and the Candi TV- Marshalls Pasta rider was not to be denied, as he took the win in front of the ‘home’ crowd of the Potteries based squad.
Halfords Bikehut hold on to the slenderest of leads as the race now moves south on Thursday (18 June) to the historic Roman city of Colchester for round eight of the Tour Series.
A fight all the way to the line with Russell Downing getting the verdict in a photo finish.
Post race reactions
Russell Downing (CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta): “I made a few too many efforts in that race and got a bit boxed a couple (of laps) out. I knew Halfords were taking it up so I needed to get up there. I saw where Malcolm was and I had to get up to him and slotted in in front of him. I managed to peel a couple more off on the last lap and I just made it”.
“There was a lot of controlling going on out there. Halfords took control of the race for example and how the racing works is that it suits the team who want to win from a bunch kick so they can pack them (riders) in.”
“There was pressure with it being a local race. Pressure all day and all last week we were visiting local schools and the kids were all telling us we had to win and Phil (Griffiths) has been busy promoting things today. I was tired tonight but we pulled the win off so it was good.”
Halfords take control a few laps out lead by Rob Hayles
Rob Hayles (Halfords Bikehut): “I’m a bit disappointed – I finished outside the top six tonight and really screwed up my average! No, seriously, I’m happy with that though. We controlled it and that’s the way we like it. It was horrible course for us and we were all ‘chopping wood’ out there. Although Wilko was alright, for the rest of us it was difficult. But once we got to two laps to go, we were all at the front and that was it – we took it on.”
“I could have done with some more gas on that last half lap because the lads got baulked a bit and that probably lost us the team win but everyone’s happy tonight, Pinarello have had a win, Deano won the sprints too and we’ve got the team.”
Now it is Halfords Bikehut that lead the team award and get the blue Tour Series jerseys.L-R, Andy Tennant, Ed Clancy, Mark McNally, Ian Wilkinson and Rob Hayles.
Dean Downing (Rapha Condor): “That was one of the best races of the Tour Series so far. I really enjoying the one at Woking and winning but this one had the crowd from Woking, the turns (corners) at Woking but it was a lot harder and it was such an attacking race and everyone was taking it too each other.”
“We took the team on the night as well so it was a fantastic night for us. We gave ourselves a good talking to after the last ones and we got Kristian ‘fresh in’ from the stage race in Canada (he arrived back in the country that morning). He said he’d either be flying or creeping and it was the first one – he was flying tonight.”
Three way battle at the finish with both Downing brothers and Ian Wilkinson
Chris Newton was on fire tonight as well and when he went, I really thought he was going to stay away and one of the Madison boys did a turn for two laps, flat out, and I was thinking, I wonder why he was doing this because I was in 10th place and there were no Madison riders in front of me.”
“Tonight I wanted to get on the podium because I was disappointed in the last two rounds where they weren’t our kind of courses. This was a better course for me tonight and our team so I got on the front and tried to get the sprints and get on the podium if I could. We rode really well as a team and we took the team award away and clawed back a few points back as well on the overall so it’s even tighter at the top!”
Ian Wilkinson: (Halfords Bikehut) “Rus definitely got this one but I’m enjoying our rivalry though where its going one way one week, and the other the next. I think us being so closely matched makes for better racing all round and keeps me focused and him too probably. The course was tough today and although we thought it would split up, it did end up staying together.”
“With three races to go, we’re buzzing now and are after three more wins.”
On his first season on the road, he says “the Halfords calendar is full of road racing and with these crits, I did four races last week. The Leazes crit was a great night out and I was well happy with that win but with all this road racing, there is no time for me to do off road stuff. And to be honest I’m not missing it as much as I thought I would do and there is a chance of squeezing one or two (MTB events) in the odd place. I am though 100 per cent for the road now and where I can take it.”
“Mountain Biking, the event itself is rock hard, there is nothing as hard as a two hour mountain bike race, but the racing overall is an easy ticket. In Britain, you’re probably lucky to have one big race a month but in this game, you’re doing a couple of crits a week, and then a Premier calendar on the weekend.”
That all means you have to think a lot about you’re recovery, planning your racing and not doing too much at the wrong time and use different skills like we’re racing round a circuit for an hour and then you’re doing a four hour road race which really does spice it up.”
“We have a mega mega team. Everyone is enjoying racing together and getting a buzz from each other and these races really help bring the team together and brought us closer together.”
Jon Mozely feeling the power of the crowd
Race gets underway with the drop of the Union Jack
Big crowds again flocked to the Tour Series
Russell Downing pokes his tongue out at Chris Newton as the latter rider gets caught after a break.
Dean Downing makes a break for it chased by younger brother Russell.
Closing stages and Chris Newton goes for a solo win
Chased at first by Russell Downing
The Downing brothers with the 'famiiy'
CandiTV's mascot with Malcolm Elliott in the background lowering his Rudy Projects for the camera
Ian Wilkinson all smiles as he signs autographs for some young fans
Team Results – Round 7 – Stoke on Trent
1. Rapha – Condor
2. Team Halfords Bikehut
3. Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta
5. Sports Beans – Wilier
6. Sigma Sport Cycling Team
8. Endura Racing
7. Team Corley Cycles
10. BMC UK Racing Team
Individual Results – Round 7 – Stoke on Trent
1. Russell Downing CANDI TV – MARSHALLS PASTA
2. Ian Wilkinson TEAM HALFORDS-BIKEHUT
3. Dean Downing RAPHA-CONDOR
4. Chris Newton RAPHA-CONDOR
5. Malcolm Elliot CANDI TV-MARSHALLS PASTA
6. Andy Tennant TEAM HALFORDS BIKEHUT
7. Stephen Adams MADISON.CO.UK
8. Kristian House RAPHA-CONDOR
9. Mark McNally TEAM HALFORDS BIKEHUT
10. Marcin Bialoblocki SPORT BEANS-WILIER
Sprints: Dean Downing
Team Standings after Round 7
1. Team Halfords Bikehut 65 points
2. Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta 64 points
3. Rapha – Condor 63 points
4. Madison.co.uk 62 points
5. Sigma Sport Cycling Team 37 points
6. Sports Beans – Wilier 35 points
7. Team Corley Cycles 29 points
8. Endura Racing 19 points
9. www.cyclingbargains.com 17 points
10. BMC UK Racing Team 15 points
The race now moves on to round eight in Colchester on Thursday the 18th of June.