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Dempster Takes Tour Series Opener
Durham | Tuesday 24 May 2011
The men in black of Rapha Condor Sharp enjoyed a clean sweep of the honours on the opening evening of The Halfords Tour Series. The man of the season so far, Zak Dempster, led a clean sweep of the awards for the team as The Halfords Tour Series got off to a spectacular start in front of a large crowd in the historic NE university city of Durham. However, the Rapha Condor Sharpteam didn't have it all their own way!
They are the first team to pull on the five Halfords orange jerseys as Halfords Tour Series leaders, but only after taking a narrow win over Endura Racing by just a solitary point. Backing up Dempster's win for Rapha Condor Sharp were Kristian House in sixth and Andy Tennant in twelfth. Endura Racing took third, eighth and ninth through Scott Thwaites, Ian Wilkinson and Evan Oliphant, leaving them just a point behind Rapha Condor Sharp in the unique team based series.
During the race itself, a tough cobbled climb at the heart of the Durham course took its toll on riders, splitting the field up and producing an entertain start to the Series. The series' new teams for 2011 UK Youth, Twenty3c - Orbea and Wilier GoSelfDrive.com impressed to finish sixth, seventh and eighth, ahead of established teams like Sigma Sport - Specialized, boding well for a highly competitive Series.
Following the early laps behind the TV motorbike, the race soon began to evolve, with a strong eight rider group going clear that included House, Ian Bibby and Thwaites, who took 1-2-3 at the opening Boardman Bikes Sprint of the season.
With the pace slackening off following the sprint, the front group grew in size as the race ebbed and flowed and riders bridged the gap, while others, including Thwaites, Liam Holohan and Wilkinson, took it in turns to attack off the front.
Each attack was ultimately foiled however, setting things up for a select group to contest the sprint finish after an entertaining evening of racing. Dempster proved the strongest, exiting the final corner atop the cobbled climb well to edge Bibby and Thwaites on the line. Despite packing the top ten with four riders, Endura Racing couldn't take the team win, with Tennant's twelfth place proving crucial in giving Rapha Condor Sharp the early lead in The Halfords Tour Series.
Defending Halfords Tour Series Champions Motorpoint got off to a mixed start to their title defence, and while Bibby and Jonny McEvoy were at the forefront throughout, the team could only take fourth on the night.
Rapha Condor Sharp Reflect on a "Perfect Start"
Rapha Condor's take on the race, thanks to Tom Southam, was as follows:
Rapha Condor Sharp got off to a perfect start at the Halfords Tour series last night, winning everything on offer at the opening round of the televised series in Durham.
Only two days after returning from the Tour of Lorraine in France, it was the team's man in form Zak Dempster who took the individual honours on the night. Dempster took out his first Tour series win with a well-timed and powerful sprint ahead of a select group that had formed after an aggressive night's racing.
The major honour of winning the team classification on the night was then down to the placing of sprints winner Kristian House (6th) and Andy Tennant (12th).
Always a fraught and tense affair due to the series unique format, the men in black knew that they had to capitalise on the difficulty of the Durham course to put the team in the driving seat for the series.
Team manager John Herety said "We put in the best team for the night tonight and got the result. We have been planning our assault on the Tour series for a long time; the boys here have just got in from France and we have another team racing at the RAS at the moment. This is the start we wanted and now we will be going out there every night to win again. We've seen each year how close the final overall has been so we know we have to score every opportunity. I believe we will have the best riders for that on each individual round."
Rapha Condor Sharp lead the series by one single point ahead of Endura with Raleigh in third two points behind.
On Thursday night in Aberystwyth a slightly altered line up, which sees the inclusion of National Criterium champion Ed Clancy, will be looking to increase the team's lead at the head of the overall classification.
The highly popular series will be televised tonight Wednesday 25th May on ITV4 at 20.00 on with a repeat on Thursday 26th May at 11.00.
Durham Race on TV
Highlights of Round One from Durham will be shown on ITV4 at 20.00 on Wednesday 25th May, with a repeat on Thursday 26th May at 11.00.
The Next Event
Thursday sees The Halfords Tour Series make its first visit to Wales for Round Two from Aberystwyth. Support races get underway on the seafront circuit from 14.00 onwards, with the Aberystwyth Seafront Criterium for Category 2 & 3 riders taking place at 17.15 as a final curtain raiser for the professional race.
Recently crowned Welsh Champion Gruff Lewis will have the chance to compete on his home town roads for Team UK Youth, as the team of Tour de France stage winner Magnus Backstedt prepare for their home round. Also at home in Aberystwyth will be Pendragon Le Col Colnago, with Carmarthen born Yanto Barker among their local riders keen to perform on home roads, particularly after the South West based team came tenth in Durham.
Round One, Durham, Results
1) Rapha Condor Sharp
2) Endura Racing
3) Team Raleigh
4) Motorpoint Pro Cycling
5) Team UK Youth
6) Twenty3c - Orbea
7) Wilier GoSelfDrive.com
8) CyclePremier.com - Metaltek
9) Sigma Sport - Specialized
10) Pendragon Le Col Colnago
1) Zak Dempster Rapha Condor Sharp
2) Ian Bibby Motorpoint Pro Cycling
3) Scott Thwaites Endura Racing
4) Jonny McEvoy Motorpoint Pro Cycling
5) Liam Holohan Team Raleigh
6) Kristian House Rapha Condor Sharp
7) Marcel Six Twenty3c - Orbea
8) Ian Wilkinson Endura Racing
9) Evan Oliphant Endura Racing
10) Dave Clarke Endura Racing
Boardman Bikes Sprints winner
Kristian House Rapha Condor Sharp
Team Standings, after Round One
1) Rapha Condor Sharp 10pts
2) Endura Racing 9pts
3) Team Raleigh 8pts
4) Motorpoint Pro Cycling 7pts
5) Team UK Youth 6pts
6) Twenty3c - Orbea 5pts
7) Wilier GoSelfDrive.com 4pts
8) CyclePremier.com - Metaltek 3pts
9) Sigma Sport - Specialized 2pts
10) Pendragon Le Col Colnago 1pts
The full 2011 Halfords Tour Series calendar is as follows:
Round One Tuesday 24th May Durham
Round Two Thursday 26th May Aberystwyth
Round Three Tuesday 31st May Peterborough
Round Four Thursday 2nd June Colchester
Round Five Tuesday 7th June Stoke-on-Trent
Round Six Thursday 9th June Oldham
Round Seven Tuesday 14th June Woking
Round Eight Thursday 16th June Canary Wharf
For further information, visit www.tourseries.co.uk