2009 Blackburn Town Centre Racing
22nd July, 2009; British Cycling Elite Circuit Race Series
By Larry Hickmott - High Res Photo Album: Click here
The Mayor of Blackburn is joined on stage by the top 3 at the Blackburn GP, Graham Briggs, Dean Downing and Jeremy Hunt. High Res Photo Album: Click here
Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) has won the latest round of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series in the town centre of Blackburn in Lancashire where the riders faced a really tough hour long race around the 850 metre circuit based on King William street. It was the final opportunity for British Circuit Race champion Dean Downing to show off his champion's stripes before the circuit race title is decided for 2009 in Beverly on Friday evening.
Based on his performance in Blackburn, Dean Downing is now the over whelming favourite but with just two days to go, it may well be that many were not showing their cards and a much tighter contest is expected in Beverley. What ever the truth of the matter may be, Dean Downing has certainly done his champion’s jersey proud with two victories out of three in the last three Elite Circuit Series events to add to the two victories in the Tour Series.
A Nightout in Blackburn
After races in Rochdale, Brighouse and Colne in the last month, it was the turn of Blackburn to host its first Elite Circuit Race series event and despite threatening weather all day, the tricky circuit which was a mixture of normal road and pavement come smooth cobble stone remained dry all evening for the series of events. The evening’s cycle events were kicked off at 6pm by British Cycling Go-Ride coaches testing the skills of local youngsters on the start/finish straight before the first support race was held at 7pm.
This was dominated by Lewis Craven who after some early attacks by the other riders, rode away from the rest of the field and very quickly started to lap them. Not even a puncture in the final quarter of the race threatened his lead in the race and like Colne the week before, he came around to the applause from the gathered crowd and raised his arms in victory.
Graham Briggs leads Dean Downing as the chasers swing into the same straight at the other end.
After the podium ceremony for the support race, the Elite riders lined up and were introduced to the crowd by Carl Lawrenson. The race was to have a rolling start but that didn’t stop Malcolm Elliott having some fun with his rivals as he feigned an attack off the line. Fun over, the CandiTV riders came around at the head of affairs, a little tired apparently from a Grand Fondo sportive ride, to lead the field up the start/finish straight to start the race proper. Very quickly, Graham Briggs who modestly said later he was coming into some form, was smashing it up the hill and on his wheel was Mark McNally ahead of Jeremy Hunt.
Behind these three was a growing gap and Dean Downing, in his all white Rapha champion’s skinsuit and on a Condor bike with the champion’s colour scheme to match, was quick to see the danger and crossed to the three leaders. And that was it pretty much! These four soon opened up a good gap of 30 seconds or so on the rest but McNally was apparently missing turns and Briggs turned up the gas coming up the slight drag to the start/finish line and gapped McNally and Hunt with Downing on his wheel. The break of four was now down to two as Dean Downing and Briggs went clear and carried on at a relentless pace, lapping riders as they did all the way up to the third group on the road with riders in there such as Hayles, Newton and others.
On paper, much of the field were closely matched but on this circuit, Dean Downing and Graham Briggs were showing the glaring differences in ability as they reduced a field of 60 plus riders to less than 20 with a third of the race still to go. The only controversy was the suggestion that a group that was lapped helped the chasers reduce the 30 second lead of Downing and Briggs to less than 10 seconds which had Dean Downing asking questions as he came through the finish area in the closing ten laps.
It was touch and go as to whether the leaders would hold on as Halfords riders Ian Wilkinson, Rob Partridge, Ed Clancy along with Jeroen Janssen and Jeremy Hunt turned up the gas to full to try and bring the break back.
Dean Downing has time for a 'baby' celebration as he wins the sprint in Blackburn on Wednesday night.
Into the final eight laps along the start/finish straight, the chasers were now in the same straight but the two leaders held on and Dean Downing won the sprint, thumb in his mouth as a celebration of the birth of his daughter and ready to defend his title on Friday.
On the podium Jeremy Hunt explained that he was doing a few more races in Beverley this weekend before doing the Tours of Denmark, Ireland and Britain for his trade team, Cervelo. Graham Briggs meanwhile told me “I just rode off the front for a few laps to see how it went because it was quite tight out there and I was hoping to get a group of us away. When they started to pull us back at the end, Dean and I started to press on a bit more and we opened the gap up again.” On the sprint with Dean, Graham explained “I was hoping to get into the last corner with some speed but Dean slowed it down there and I had to start again and there was no getting past him once he had the jump on me as I think I was on too big a gear.”
Dean Downing meanwhile gave his version of events starting by saying “Graham attacked first lap, Jez was with him and CandiTV had everyone at the front so I had to jump after them and got with them. After that, it just went. It was very grippy out there because there was no fast stretch. It was hard all the way round with a lot of tight corners. It was a real good crit circuit.”
On why the break split, Dean explained “the bunch were getting closer and Mark was sat on and I presumed he was waiting for more Halfords riders to come up or maybe he was tired – I’m not sure. I said to the lads, we need to push on and Graham did a really hard turn, kind of like half an attack and I was on his wheel. We never saw the others again and worked perfectly together.”
“The gap at one point went from 30 seconds to 10 and Graham and I had never slowed down so that was a bit unsettling. With four to go, I said to Graham we’ll just take it to the line and we both did some really hard turns and the gap opened up a bit. Graham left me on the front with a lap to go and I went normal speed round a lot of it because I wasn’t going to mess around because I knew we could get caught but then I went into the twisty section slow and wound it up up the climb and got to within 100 metres of the final bend. I went really hard into that last corner but then had to brake quite hard to get round which must have freaked him and I then hit it round the corner. I know Graham is not slow so I tried the track thing of leaving it late and getting the jump on him. It seemed to work!”
Jeremy Hunt wins the sprint for third.
As they get off the line for a rolling lap, Malcolm Elliott playfully 'attacks' out of the blocks
The original break of Briggs, Downing, Jeremy Hunt and Mark McNally.
Heading into the final few laps, Jeremy Hunt and Halfords really made up up time on the leaders but were still unable to bring them back.
A lone win, and a very decisive one for Lewis Craven
Result (provisional, subject to change)
1. Lewis Craven, Wheelbase.co.uk
2. Ian Sharp, Derian House Childrens Hospice @29 secs
3. Matthew Holmes, Sport City Velo
4. David Haygarth, Wheelbase.co.uk
5. Alistair Jowatt, Pendle Forest CC
6. Adam Joyce, Lancashire RC
@ 1 lap
7. Ian Sott, Blackburn CTC
8. Jason Wiltshire, Lancashire RC
9. Mark Davies, Barnsley RC
10. Jeremy Robinson, Crosstrax.
1. Dean Downing, Rapha Condor
2. Graham Briggs, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
3. Jeremy Hunt, Cervelo Test Team @15 seconds
4. Jereon Janssen, Madison.co.uk
5. Russell Downing, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
6. Matt Cronshaw, Rapha Condor
7. Tom Barras, unattached @17 seconds
8. Ian Wilkinson, Halfords Bikehut @22 seconds
9. Dave Collins Science in Sport @42 seconds
10. Malcolm Elliott, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta @50 secs
11. Rob Partridge, Halfords Bikehut 1.44
12. Ed Clancy MBE, Halfords Bikehut
13. Jon Mozeley, Madison.co.uk
14. Rob Hayles, Halfords Bikehut
15. Mark McNally, Team Halfords Bikehut
16. Chris Newton, Rapha Condor
17. Andy Tinsely, Science in Sport
18. Douglas Dewey, Pendragon Kalas.
High Res Photo Album: Click here
Series Events (& reports)
17 May Hillingdon Grand Prix Hillingdon, W. London
5 September Newport Nocturne Newport, Shropshire
6 September Travelwise Warwick Town Centre Circuit Races Warwick
20 September Preston City Centre Grand Prix Preston, Lancs.