Colne Town Centre Grand Prix

Colne Town Centre Grand Prix

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Colne Grand Prix Colne

14 July, 2009; Lancashire | Report/pictures by Larry Hickmott

Hi-Res Photo Album Slideshow |

Russell Downing has won the latest round of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Race Series which was held in Colne (Lancashire) on a sunny evening on Wednesday, July 15. After an attacking race with breaks coming and going through out the race, the event was won in a big bunch kick with Russell Downing getting the better of Rob Hayles and British circuit race champion Dean Downing.

An evening out in Colne
After a soaking at Brighouse the week before, fingers were crossed for some sun on arrival in the Lancashire town of Colne (Borough of Pendle ) for the latest round of the Elite Circuit Series. Organised by Ivor Armstrong and his team, the night’s action comprised of two races kicking off at 7pm, one for category 3 & 4 male and junior riders as well as women and the final one for the Elite men. With the circuit closed down at 6pm to traffic, everything was going to plan and by the time a group of 60 or so riders had lined up for the start shortly before 7, the barriers too were being lined by people keen to watch some bike racing as well as a big team of marshalls.

The Mayor of Pendle was there as well to drop the flag for the race which she did at 7pm and the riders wasted no time in getting going and up to speed on this fast and flowing town centre circuit. With plenty of people to cheer them on, there was no shortage of riders willing to attack from the first lap but it wasn’t until two riders, Lewis Craven and Gordon Leicester got away that a race winning break looked likely. These two opened up a good gap but the circuit as British Champion Dean Downing explained later, was a wearing down one with the climb up the back straight and that had the effect of seeing the advantage by the leaders shrinking in the final quarter of the race.

As the pace behind them grew and splits started to occur in the group that had continually been getting smaller from lap 1 of the race, the leaders were slowly being reeled in. Lewis Craven could see his chances of victory slipping away and he decided in the closing laps to go it alone and it was like a rerun of a Tour de France stage as the race became a battle between a rider out front with a slender advantage of only a few seconds and the big bad peloton bearing down on him. Craven however was more than a match for them and as he came into view on the final lap, the bunch sprinting for all they were worth behind him, Craven was calm and relaxed as he celebrated from 100 metres out a hard fought for victory.

After being in a two up break for over half the race, Lewis Craven went solo a few laps from the end as the bunch closed in and he held them off to win the support race.

The support race over, there was a break of half an hour while the presentation was held for that and while that was played out in front of the crowd and a large group of VIP’s in hospitality, the Elite riders got to know the circuit in their warm-up period.  Missing from the line up was local Ian Wilkinson who was there cheering on his friends and teammates with him and his girlfriend on the other side of the barrier. Ian, who rides for Halfords Bikehut, is suffering a little from a knee problem and with some big goals coming up in the second half of the year, he is resting it. This he says is frustrating as he’d prefer to choose when he had a rest period but after his best ever season on the road, the winner of many races this season is looking positively at the rest of the season even if he has had to miss his local race which he won last year.

Whilst Ian was missing from the line up, the field for the race was a who’s who of the best of British riders including the British champion Dean Downing who is the proud husband of Katy and father to new born Lily and had an appropriate victory celebration planned should he win the race like he did the week before in Brighouse. Dean joined another rider who has become a father again very recently, Rob Hayles and many other top names such as Jeroen Jansenn, Graham Briggs, Russell Downing, Matt Cronshaw, Olympic Bronze medallist Chris Newton and Olympic champion Ed Clancy. With the sun still shining brightly down my lens at the start, the race kicked off as the support race had, flat out!

Mark McNally came through the finish area off the front with Graham Briggs on the first lap and it was the first of many many breaks, none of which lasted very long but did keep the speed of the race high. In the closing laps, a break did get away with the likes of Matt Cronshaw, Rob Partridge, Graham Briggs and Tom Barras. With all the big teams represented it looked for a short while that this break was going to be let loose by the bunch who came around looking very relaxed and bunched up but alas for the leaders, not so and soon the Halfords train was leaving the station for the finish with Andy Tennant the driving force down the home straight.

Andy Tennant winds up the Halfords Bikehut sprint train for Rob Hayles who was second.

The sprinter for Halfords, Rob Hayles, was lurking at the back of his train and on his wheel were Russell Downing and Dean Downing and out of the last bend and up the small slope before a downhill run to the line, it was these three who kicked hard for home at the head of the large bunch sprint. At Brighouse, Dean Downing beat his brother to the line but in this three-way battle at the head of the charging peloton, it was Russell Downing who was giving no baby shower presents to his elder brother Dean in this race as Russell first showed Rob Hayles his back wheel before raising his arms in celebration 25 metres out from the line. Victory in Colne was ‘Fonzys’.

Afterwards, I grabbed a quick word with all three as they came off the podium.
Russell Downing: “That was a hard race” he said first. “It was quite hard in the breaks as no-one wanted to commit and it was quite windy down that back straight. And there were only two straights you could gas it and there was always some one who wanted to bring it back. We got in quite a few moves but it was strange race. When it came back together, I was well up for the kick. I got round the final corner really well and got the jump on them on the brow of the hill using quite a small gear and I knew if I could get that, Rob would struggle to get me back.”

As always, the winner gets to spray a good bottle of champagne over the crowd and Russell Downing does just that after his hard fought victory in Colne.

Rob Hayles: During the Tour de France, Rob has been seen in the Eurosport studio as a guest for their Tour de France coverage but on Wednesday, the three time Olympic medallist was in good form at the Colne GP. “I’m quite happy with the form out there although disappointed with the result obviously. I felt quite good tonight and it’s been a while since I felt good on the bike. Training is coming on now after a break after all the racing and becoming a father again (to a son). I always wanted to be good at the end of the season rather than the start of the year so it’s all going in the right direction at the moment.”

Dean Downing: After surviving a rider going down in front of him and having to bunny hop over the fallen rider and managing to stay upright, a thankful British champion had this to say afterwards. “I went into the race quite chilled out after all the stress of the last month with the Tour Series racing and the birth of my first child with my wife Katy. It was a good race and always is here. It is a very fast circuit but it is also a very hard circuit because it’s not flat. Halfords did a perfect lead out for Rob and me and Rus piggy backed it.  All three of us kicked out of the corner and I Russ was the stronger on the night – at least he kept in the family!”

Cycle racing was taken to the people of Pendle and Colne on a great night for a crit.

Left to Right, Rob Hayles (2nd), Russell Downing (1st) and Dean Downing (3rd).


Elite Race
1. Russell Downing, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
2. Rob Hayles, Halfords Bikehut
3. Dean Downing, Rapha Condor
4. Mark McNally, Halfords Bikehut
5. Jon Mozley,
6. Richard Hepworth, Arctic Premier
7. Graham Briggs,  CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
8. Matt Cronshaw, Rapha Condor
9. Ed Clancy MBE, Halfords Bikehut
10. Scott Thwaites,
11. Jean Spies, In Gear Development
12. Peter Williams,  CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
13. Alistair Rutherford, SIS
14. Paul Oldham, Hope RT
15. Simon Wilson, Arctic Premier
16. Ian Bibby, Halfords Bikehut
17. Simon Gaywood, Corley Cycles
18. David Clarke, Pendragon Kalas
19. Damin Smith, HerbalLife
20. Tom Moses, Team Wallis CHH RT


Sprint 1
1. Matt Cronshaw
2. Mark McNally
3. Graham Briggs
4. Ed Clancy

Sprint 2
1. Rob Partridge
2. Dean Downing
3. Mark McNally
4. Alistair Rutherford

Top three in the Support race won by Lewis Craven.

Support Race
1. Lewis Craven, Herbalife Wheelbase
2. James Farnaby Crosstrax
3. Jeremy Robinson, Crosstrax
4. Mark Davies, Barnsley RC
5. Martin Eadon, Hargroves Cycles
6. Andrew Marsh, Dinnington RC
7. Ian Sharp, Derian House Childrens Hospice
8. Jason Wiltshire, Lancashire RC
9. Julian Judge, VC Lincoln
10. John Sherrifs Team Wallis CHH RT
11. Tom Garwell, Yorkshire
12. David Haygarth,
13. Paul Young, Glendene CC
14. Alistair Jowett, Pendle Forest CC
15. Steve Whitmarsh, Chevin
16. Andy Hayton, Cherry Valley RT
17. Sam Boast, Sport City Velo
18. Andrew Donaldson, Kingsnorth Int Wh
19. Dave Sowerby, Sowerby Bros CRT
20. Gordon Leicester, Warrington RC


Series Events (& reports)
17 May Hillingdon Grand Prix Hillingdon, W. London
24 June Otley Criteriums Otley, W. Yorks
1 July Rochdale Grand Prix Rochdale, Lancs
3 July Tour of Blackpool Grand Prix Circuit Race Blackpool
7 July Brighouse Criteriums Brighouse, Yorks

To Come
22 July Blackburn Grand Prix Blackburn, Lancs
5 September Newport Nocturne Newport, Shropshire
6 September Travelwise Warwick Town Centre Circuit Races Warwick
20 September Preston City Centre Grand Prix Preston, Lancs.