Halfords Tour Series: Round 5 (Southport)
Story posted June 8, 2010 | Event Website |
Endura's Alexandre Blain wins the race to the line at the Southport Tour Series event.
Frenchman Alexandre Blain took Endura Racing’s first win of The Halfords Tour Series, jumping away from his breakaway companions in the final 500 metres of racing to win a fast paced Southport round of the Series. A determined Endura lost out though on the night’s team prize to Rapha – Condor – Sharp, who were also active throughout the race that boiled down to a tight battle between the top three teams.
Earlier rain had cleared away by seven o’clock, leaving the sun breaking through and the skies clearing above the Sefton Coast in time for racing. Every lap in the early stages seemed to bring an increase in speed, as the peloton enjoyed the long, flat straights that gave riders the chance to stretch their legs at the front of the field.
At the back it was a different story, with several riders struggling to hold the furious pace. Amongst the casualties was Southport resident Peter Smith, who was forced to drop out after being struck down by illness, a disappointment for him and his Raleigh team, who had been fired up to perform at their home event.
Endura Racing, Rapha–Condor–Sharp and Halfords Tour Series leaders Motorpoint–Marshalls Pasta were all looking fired up too, with each sending riders up the road in probing forays as the big guns tried to get a move to stick. Each move seemed to be in vain though, as lap-after-lap would pass with a couple of riders dangling in front of the peloton, but by the next lap the escapees would have been swallowed up and another rider would take their turn to attempt to break the invisible elastic connecting them to the bunch.
Photo slideshow -- more to be added on Wednesday
When a break did eventually stay away after half-an-hour of racing, it was a high-class Anglo-Australian quartet of Rob Hayles, Ed Clancy, Dean Windsor and Casey Munro. The foursome built up a 12” lead over the peloton but that gap was gradually chipped away as Ormskirk rider James Stewart and Zak Dempster tried to cross.
Another high-class trio containing Munro and Clancy again, along with Ian Wilkinson then tried to escape, but with no Rapha – Condor – Sharp rider in the group its life was short lived. Finally, the big three teams succeeded in getting some of their riders away, with Blain, House and Ian Bibby all pulling away from the field. The trio built-up an excellent lead and with each of the big teams represented, the chase from the peloton was weakened, although post-race Blain and House seemed to suggest they had been unhappy with the amount of work done by the Motorpoint rider ‘policing’ the break.
In the closing laps, four riders crossed to the leading group with Endura Racing, Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta and Rapha – Condor – Sharp again represented through Jack Bauer, Andy Tennant and Dean Windsor, while James Stewart added the presence of home team Raleigh. Approaching the finish, former Cofidis rider Blain jumped with about 500 metres to go approaching the final hairpin corner. With his breakaway companions slightly overcooking their chase and going deep into the turn, victory went to the Frenchman, well clear of the original escapees House and Bibby.
In the standings Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta’s lead has been cut to two points over Rapha – Condor – Sharp, with Endura Racing just a point behind, as the leading trio begin to pull away from the field. Behind the battle for fourth in the standings is just as tight however, with Sigma Sport – Specialized, Pendragon Le Col Colnago and Team Raleigh separated by three points, showing the racing in The Halfords Tour Series is as close as ever.
To see all the action from Southport, tune in to ITV4 on Wednesday evening at 7pm for an hour’s highlights show. The Halfords Tour Series is back in action on Thursday in Kettering for Round Six of the 2010 Series.
Overall leaders of the Halfords Tour Series after five rounds are Motorpoint/Marshals Pasta
Round Five Results
1. Rapha – Condor – Sharp
2. Endura Racing
3. Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta
4. Sigma Sport - Specialized
5. Team Raleigh
6. Team Corley Cycles
7. Pendragon – Le Col - Colnago
8. CyclePremier.com - Metaltek
9. Kuota – road.cc
10. Team Ireland
1. Alexandre Blain Endura Racing
2. Kristian House Rapha – Condor - Sharp
3. Ian Bibby Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta
4. Dean Windsor Rapha – Condor – Sharp
5. Andy Tennant Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta
The Halfords Tour Series Standings (after five rounds)
1. Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta 43pts
2. Rapha – Condor – Sharp 41pts
3. Endura Racing 40pts
4. Sigma Sport – Specialized 31pts
5. Pendragon – Le Col – Colnago 30pts
6. Team Raleigh 29pts
7. CyclePremier.com – Metaltek 24pts
8. Team Corley Cycles 19pts
9. Kuota – road.cc 12pts
10. Team Ireland 5pts
Boardman Bikes Sprints Competition Results
1. Graham Briggs Rapha – Condor – Sharp 7pts
2. Rob Hayles Endura Racing 5pts
3. Simon Gaywood Team Corley Cycles 5pts
Frenchman, Alexandre Blain, winner of round 5 of the Tour Series in Southport.
Team winners of the event on the night were Rapha Condor Sharp.
The race went in the opposite direction this year as it did last year but still had the hairpin bend at one end of the circuit.
As ever, the race takes a few laps to get going as the riders warm up and take a good look at the circuit.
Ah no, the Raleigh team did not race on these Chopper bikes but did get the attention of the media at the event.
Winner of the Boardman Bikes Sprint award on the night was Graham Briggs of Rapha Condor Sharp
Ian Wilkinson (Endura) wins the bunch gallop ahead of Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor Sharp) and his teammate, Zak Dempster.
The Duke, Dean Windsor of Rapha Condor Sharp leads an early break into a tight right hander on the course ahead of Olympic and World Champion, Ed Clancy (Motorpoint/Marshals Pasta).
The event at Southport saw the barriers lined by bigs crowds who came into the centre to witness an exciting race with not a drop of rain to be seen!
Rob Hayles leads a dangerous looking break that included Ed Clancy and Dean Windsor
Alexandre Blain leads Kristian House and Ian Bibby in a break that appeared to be the winning one even though their lead over the peloton was never very much.
Kristian House unhappy at the way the break is being brought back, attacks over the finish line.
A chase group led here by Andy Tennant from Jack Bauer, Dean Windsor and James Stewart, succeeded in catching the leaders with two laps to go.
With only 500 metres left to go, Alexandre Blain attacks down the left tight to the barrier and catches the rest sleeping.
Post Race Reactions
Alexandre Blain “I wasn’t really good to start with in the series but I have tried to stay at the front and follow wheels and do my job along with my teammates. Today, when I felt the race was strong and fast, and the others were in trouble, I saw House make a strong attack and I followed him and it was a good break”.
“I thought it would stay away but the Motorpoint rider did not want to ride with us which made it complicated. The others came back at us and when that happened with two laps to go, I decided to stay quiet and go to the back and try to recover to make an effort. I did not know where I would attack but I thought when the group brakes for the sprint, I must attack.”
Asked if it has been difficult to adjust to British racing after racing in the pro peloton in Europe with Cofidis, the Manchester based rider said “In the Premier Calendar, I did not know the riders or the teams and I made some mistakes like in the CiCLE Classic when I felt really strong and could win. We have got better with each race and we see that on Sunday with Rob and today here.”
“In the beginning, the Tour Series was very hard and felt between the track and road cycling. It is really fast and really furious and I was sick in the first one, it was really really hard to adapt for me. Now, after five rounds I feel better and know how the races go. I was very happy to win here tonight and also for the team.”
Kristian House. Talking to the British road race champion afterwards, he was obviously very disappointed at the original three man break not staying away. At that point, he and the team were unaware they had won the team award and he explained “Blain and I both rode but I don’t understand why Bibby didn’t ride. When Dean (Windsor) got up to us, that didn’t really change anything either because then everyone had two in the break and it just meant there were more riders to worry about.”
A reaction on Twitter later, summed up how he felt "Another great win for Rapha Condor Sharp tonight in Southport! Nice one boys. Gutted I didn't get the individual... "
Sitting next to Kristian was Australian Dean Windsor who had finished fourth on the night. He explained that he had felt good on the night. “It was a much tighter circuit which suits me more and the harder it is, the better I feel it seems at the moment. I made a few moves early on and got in a group with four guys that looked dangerous and when they came back, I went again and again and finally I think everyone’s legs started to go at the end, so I made a move across to two others and we bridged to Kristian’s group.”
“The sprint was like a motorbike race, Kristian was chasing Blain and Kristian was flying. Coming into the sprint for third, the three of us came into the corner way too fast and we all went wide and lost a heap of ground. I came out of the corner second with Ian Bibby in front and he just held on. I think we rode really well today and I think as the races get harder, we’ll keep moving up and taking a few more wins. When the courses have a few more corners, the field seems to blow apart and that suits us more.”
Having come to Britain from Australia this year, Dean was asked to give us a flavour of what these circuit races are like. “I am still getting the hang of them" he replied. "You’re never worrying about yourself but more worrying about the three of you having to finish up there. It is an interesting concept and I’m really enjoying. It is a much more complex sort of race to try and win.”