Report: Chas Messenger RR

Report: Chas Messenger RR

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Report: Chas Messenger Road Race

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May 2nd, Buckinghamshire; by Larry Hickmott | Video of the Finish

Dan Craven of the Rapha Condor Sharp team has won the eighth edition of the Chas Messenger Road Race held on the sporting course near Oakley in Buckinghamshire, Sunday May 2 in spectacular style. Not only did he win by well over four minutes, he headed up a 1-2-3 for his team.

Dan Craven wins the tribute race to Chas Messenger. Afterwards he said "the organisers have put on a great race, worthy of being a Premier Calendar". He then added he's gutted not to be selected for the Lincoln Grand Prix next weekend.

Photo slideshow of the National A race


As the race began at 1pm with the field of riders rolling out of Oakley, there was a strong wind blowing but the rain from earlier in the day had all but gone. It was cold though, 8 degrees with an even colder wind, but it wouldn’t take long for the riders to get warm on this sporting course. Oakley is known for its hills, and it is the type of course which a few riders were saying there should be more of.

The rain gone, the peloton roll past a chocolate box cottage in Oakley.

As soon as the flag was dropped after the neutralised section, the race began fast and furious with a strong tailwind. Three quarters of a lap later, through the finish area at Dorton, and Dan Craven (Rapha/Condor/ Sharp) and Kit Gilham (Sigma Sport Specialized) were a few seconds clear of the peloton. By this stage, there were already a few stragglers and there were going to be plenty more by the end. Second time up the long climb at Ashendon and the two leaders were still clear but now Tom Southam was chasing and the bunch were in sight behind him.

Eighteen kilometres further on and the front of the race saw a big change. Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Sharp) was pictured leading a group up the Ashendon climb over a minute ahead of the peloton where Stephen Adams was chasing. The break included Dan Fleeman and James Stewart (Raleigh), Rob Hayles and Rob Partridge (Endura), Dean Windsor (Rapha Condor Sharp), Kit Gilham, Dan Craven, Tom Southam, a Metaltek rider and a rider from Team Zappi.

Dan Craven was the first to make a break stick when he joined Kit Gilham of Sigma/Specialized in an attack on lap 1.

A few of the riders in the break were dropped but with many of the big teams still represented, it was not expected to get caught but this race was to prove impossible to second guess. First, a small chase group including Peter Smith (Raleigh) and Jonathon Tiernan-Locke (Rapha/Condor/Sharp) formed and went across to the leaders and then with three laps to go, looking down on the finish area from the top of the climb at Dorton, the break and the bunch could be seen with little daylight between them.

Up the climb after the finish area and Rob Partridge was giving it some welly as the break was splitting under the pressure of the Endura rider. The bunch too, only 15 seconds down, was also splitting as riders could see their chance to bridge the ever decreasing gap. The riders were soon out of sight and the growing crowd at the finish had to wait 25 minutes for them to come into sight again with two laps showing on the lap counter.

Dean Downing leads Dan Fleeman in a break many thought would succeed. Notice the men in black in good numbers.

During the previous lap, the groups had come together, or at least some of them and but Rapha/Condor/Sharp were still in the box seat with the majority of the riders (3) in the break. The leaders were being driven along by Orbea rider Marcel Six with the others including Rob Partridge and Jack Bauer from Endura, Dan Fleeman (Raleigh), and Jonathon Tiernan-Locke, Dan Craven, and Tom Southam (Rapha Condor Sharp).

Behind, a large chase group had formed and then behind them, there was a similar sized group of the rest of the riders left in the race. The bell lap and the race had been going for four hours and leading the race through with a stunning effort was a lone Dan Craven. The gap was well over a minute to the dozen or so chasers who in turn, were being brought back by more riders and what was left of the peloton.

What would the final 18 kilometres hold for this race which was changing with every lap? That question was answered when Dan Craven came into the finishing straight alone to win the race by well over four minutes. His teammate, former Australian champion Darren Lapthorne, attacked on the final climb and came in alone for second while Jonathon Tiernan-Locke showed he could sprint as well by being the fastest from what was left of the break to the finishing line and making it a perfect 1-2-3 for Rapha Condor Sharp.

Dan Craven has flown the nest and Rapha have shut up shop and the other teams, knowing if they bring Craven back some one else from Rapha will go,  do their best to limit their losses without leaving themselves exposed to more attacks.

Dan Craven (1st) “In the beginning I was just covering moves and I got away with Kit Gilham and then Tommy (Tom Southam) came across. Then a whole lot of the team got across. We had the strongest team here today so one of us was sure to win. I clipped off with two laps to go and the guys behind were playing cat and mouse.”

“If I hadn’t had all those Rapha guys behind me in the chase group, I would never have been able to stay away. Everyone was watching the team and I got the gap – a bit of luck. I am having a good year or should I say I had a really bad year last year. People who know me from 2008 would still say I’m going really well and they know I am capable of this where as in England, they have never seen me do this and have never known what I am capable of.”

“This sort of terrain suits me down to the ground, lots of little climbs that wear the others down. It has been a good day and great fun.”

Darren Lapthorne (2nd). The Aussie crossed the line alone in second and had this to say afterwards. “We’re all motivated at the moment and this is the result. For the first half of the season, these are the type of races we’ve aimed for and we have Japan coming up and we’re all in good form. Once Dan had gone, the other guys probably weren’t happy with us sitting in. They weren’t going to commit. We knew Dan was assured the win and we went out to get another podium spot. It worked well. It was easy for us in the end as we’d had a free ride the last few laps”.

“I made an effort on the last climb and thought if I could get away that would let Tom and Jon sit in and go for third as well. I think this is a great course. It would be great if more of the British races were on courses like this. It’s really tough racing and the closest thing to more of a European style racing as well. I really enjoyed the race.”

Jonathon Tiernan-Locke (3rd):  On his sprinting ability, Jon replied “I have a few tricks up my sleeve!” Talking about the chase group that crossed to the break, he explained  “we wanted to have the numbers up there. It is a hard enough course that even if there is a gap of a few minutes, you can shut it down. It was good and at one stage there were four of us in a group of seven.”

“With a few laps to go, we started attacking and then Dan’s one stuck and seemed to crack everyone. They were thinking if we chase him, some one else is going to go and Dan was super strong. I’m enjoying being with the team, it’s an awesome team. It’s like a team of mates, not just teammates so it’s good.” 

Jonathon Tiernan-Locke shows he can sprint as well as climb in the sprint for third.

Video shots of Chas Messenger Road Race
Last Lap

Official Result

1  Dan Craven Rapha Condor-Sharp 04:13:26
2  Darren Lapthorne Rapha Condor-Sharp 03:53
3  Jonathon Tiernan-Locke Rapha Condor-Sharp 04:06
4  Marcel Six Orbea-For Goodness Shakes 04:35
5  James Stewart Team Raleigh st
6  Rob Partridge Endura Racing st
7  Tom Southam Rapha Condor-Sharp st
8  Wouter Sybrandy Sigma Sport-Specialized Cycling Team st
9  Jack Kirk Team Zappi's st
10  Ashley Cox Team Corley Cycles/Alpha RC st
11  Jack Bauer Endura Racing 06:45
12  Roy Chamberlain Team Corley Cycles/Alpha RC st
13  David Clarke Pendragon-Lecol Colnago st
14  Gareth Montgomerie Sigma Sport-Specialized Cycling Team st
15  Matt Cronshaw Rapha Condor-Sharp st
16  Dan Fleeman Team Raleigh st
17  Tom Murray Sigma Sport-Specialized Cycling Team st
18  Joe Skipper Cycles Dauphin st
19  Daniel Patten Flanders Racing st
20  Alexander King Endura Racing st
21  Steve Lampier Pendragon-Lecol Colnago 07:18
22  Matt Ewings Orbea-For Goodness Shakes st
23  Pete Smith Team Raleigh st
24  Duncan Jamieson Felt-Colbornes RT
25  Daniel Davies Kuota Road CC
26  Sam Parker Team Zappi's st
27  Tom Last Sigma Sport-Specialized Cycling Team st
28  Hugh Wilson Team Qoroz st
29  George Atkins 100% ME st
30  Dean Downing Rapha Condor-Sharp st
31  Richard Handley Team Raleigh st
32  Steven Higgins Team Corley Cycles/Alpha RC st
33  Dale Appleby Team Raleigh st
34  Richard Cartland Team Corley Cycles/Alpha RC st
35  Simon Richardson Sigma Sport-Specialized Cycling Team st
36  Danny Axford Arctic Premier RT st
37  Kit Gilham Sigma Sport-Specialized Cycling Team st
38  Liam Holohan Team Raleigh
39  Dan Kogan Orbea-For Goodness Shakes 08:24
40  David McLean Frezza Pasta Montegrappa 09:30
41  Ben Thompson Orbea-For Goodness Shakes 14:22
42  Simon Henley Team Corley Cycles/Alpha RC st
43  Robert Smail CRT st

1  Tom Stockdale Team Qoroz
2  Wojciech Szlachta Cambridge University
3 Andrew Sanders Inverse Racing / Bikefood
4  Sam Redding GWR Team/Swindon Cycles
5  Crispin  Doyle Swindon RC
6  Andrew Nicholls High Wycombe CC
7  Neil Wass Anders TMG Horizon RT
8  Toby Eichler Private
9  Jake Hales Team Corley Cycles
10  Nick Hutchins CS Grupetto
11  Douglas Coleman Anders TMG Horizon RT
12  Scott Merrilees Wyndymilla/Maxifuel
13  Luke Merrilees WyndyMilla/Maxifuel
14  Tom Kirk Team Zappi's
15  Simon Jackson High Wycombe CC
16  Robert King
17  Graham  Warby Spirit RT
18  Jonathan Marchini Oxford University CC
19  Scott Holmes Hillingdon CC
20  Iain Stanton Bath CC
21  Gavin Spiers
22  Thomas Durno Cambridge University
23  Chris Snook
24  Freddie Clark Spirit RT
25  Chris Smith Python RT
26  Michael Widera Inverse Racing UK/Bikefood
27  Tom Crouch High Wycombe CC
28  Rob  Jackson Inverse Racing UK/Bikefood
29  James Norris High Wycombe CC
30  Clive Nicholls High Wycombe CC
31  Tristan Emptage North Road Club

2003 Rob Enslin        VC Prestige
2004 John Tanner        Planet X RT
2005 Kevin Dawson
2006 Malcolm Elliott        Plowman Craven RT
2007     Not Held
2008 Russell Downing    Candi TV Pinarello RT
2009 Russell Downing        Marshalls Pasta/Motorpoint

Related Links

2009 Race Report and Photos