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Tennant Hangs on To Win Tour of Reservoir

Tour of the Reservoir Premier Calendar Road Race, Sunday 29th March 2009
Report & images: Andrew Kennedy, NEG Motorpilot: John Greatorex


Team Halfords Bikehut dominated the podium at the end of the 2009 Tour of the Reservoir. Former Junior World Pursuit Champion Andy Tennant attacked from a large breakaway group on the final lap together with Dale Appleby (Candi TV Pinarello). The two riders forged a lead of about 30 seconds until Appleby punctured 5 miles from the finish. Tennant kept his cool and continued the attack knowing he would be safe if he reached Edmundbyers with a 20 second lead.

The 2008 Reservoir winner Russell Downing and his Candi TV Pinarello squad were leading the chase but Tennant had timed his move to perfection. Along the final 300 metres of the Derwent Reservoir dam wall to the finish Tennant had a comfortable lead on the chasers. Russell Downing took the sprint for second place with Halfords Bikehut rider Rob Partridge claiming the final podium position.

How the race unfolded


2008 Premier Calendar series winner Russell Downing was in demand for TV interviews at the HQ in Blanchland

The Tour of the Reservoir Premier Calendar road race got under way in bright spring sunshine. Overnight frost had the riders shivering on the start line but they soon warmed up as they rode through the beautiful Northumbrian countryside to the end of the neutralised section at Pow Hill on the southern side of Derwent Reservoir. With a full road closure the riders were assured there would be no repeat of the problems they'd suffered at the Bikeline event two weeks ago. Organiser Mike Hodgson worked alongside two separate Police Forces to get the race on the road, with uniformed and plain clothed Police Officers working on and observing the race. The National Escort Group motorcyclists again ensured a safe passage for the convoy. The 145 km race is made up of seven laps of Derwent Reservoir. The circuit could be described as rolling, with a couple of short but steep climbs.

At the end of the first lap an early break formed that included Graham Briggs and Peter Williams (CandiTV Pinarello), Ian Wilkinson (Halfords Bikehut), Gary Hand (Endura Racing), Tom Barras (Plowman Craven - Madison) and Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) this group quickly gained 37 seconds on the main field.



Back with the main field and James Sampson (Candi TV Pinarello) sits on the front controlling the pace with National Road Race Champion Rob Hayles (Halfords Bikehut) third in line.

With Rapha Condor, CandiTV Pinarello, Plowman Craven - Madison and Halfords Bikehut riders all represented in the break it was down to Dave Clarke and Douglas Dewey (Pendragon - Kalas) to lead the chase.

The leading group had now increased their lead to a minute and Matt Stephens decided it was time to try and bridge the gap, he is joined by Richard Wilkinson and Dan Booth.

Russell Downing (CandiTV Pinarello) makes a move off the front of the peloton to try and get across to the leaders.



Back at the front of the race Graham Briggs and Peter Williams (CandiTV Pinarello) keep the pace high up the climb of Barley Hill.


Ian Wilkinson (Halfords Bikehut) worked hard in the early break for his new team


With the main field behind


Russell Downing (CandiTV Pinarello) looked very comfortable in the main peloton mid race, he had two team mates in the break and was biding his time.

At the end of the third lap the leaders were caught by a large chasing group that included Andy Tennant (Halfords Bikehut) and Russ Downing. The lead group now had about 22 riders, with a gap of about 20 seconds back to what remained of the main field. Rob Hayles had failed to make the break and was back with the chasers. This large group split and reformed over the next two laps with the main teams trying to send riders up the road. The Candi TV Pinarello squad were well represented and they appeared to be the main protagonists in all the attacks.


With two laps to go Andy Tennant (Halfords Bikehut) managed to escape in the company of Graham Briggs and Peter Williams (Candi TV Pinarello). Briggs and Williams looked uncomfortable at first, not because of the pace but probably because their team leader was with the chasing group. Tennant however was totally committed to the break and drove it along.


On the climb up Barley Hill Tennant takes command, he appeared to be the strongest rider on the climb but their lead was only about 15 seconds


Back in the main peloton Rob Hayles looked unhappy. With a week working in TV studios on the World Track commentary team his preparation had been less than ideal


The final lap and Graham Briggs glances back to see the chasers closing in, the catch would come in the next couple of minutes


As soon as the leaders were caught Dale Appleby (Candi TV Pinarello) launched a massive attack gaining about 15 seconds


Andy Tennant had been the strongest rider in the original move and was able to chase after Appleby, Tennant immediately went to the front and pushed the pace


Disaster for Appleby, a few unprintable words were uttered as he suffered a rear wheel puncture when he was in a possible race winning break


With about 7km to the finish line former World Junior Pursuit Champion finds himself alone. He had no option but to dig deep and go for the win. With a short climb and then a descent into Edmundbyers Tennant knew he needed to keep a gap of about 20 seconds to ensure a win on the dam wall.


The strongest rider on the day, gritty and determined Andy Tennant (Halfords Bikehut) takes a fine win on the dam wall at the 2009 Tour of the Reservoir. (Apologies for the heavily backlit image - the sun was streaming down my camera lens)


Russ Downing (Candi TV Pinarello) was content to take 2nd place and score points in the season long series, with Rob Partridge (Halfords Bikehut) 3rd

The cameras are only interested in the winners, Andy Tennant takes over from Russ Downing as the main target for interviews

 Post- Race Interviews

Andy Tennant:  I was in quite a few breaks today, I was away with Graham Briggs and Peter Williams from Pinarello, we got pulled back and then I jumped across to Dale Appleby when he attacked. Unfortunately Dale punctured so I was on my own. It would have been better if there had been two of us, but it worked out in my favour. I had a few seconds on the chasers and looked back, I knew if I got to the top of the small climb just before the last village I could descend quickly to the finish. This is the first Premier Calendar I've done, so I'm really pleased with the win. The Halfords Bikehut team is a good set up, we all get on really well, all the riders are established and are happy to work for each other, we're going to have a great season.

BC - As a former World pursuit Champion did you use your pursuiting skills in the run in?
Andy Tennant - Yes I did, but the finish line for me was the top of that last climb. I knew I could win if I got over that with a decent gap. As I came through the village with a couple of km to go I knew I'd won it.

BC - When you were in the break with Graham Briggs and Peter Williams were they fully committed to that, you looked to be doing the lion's share of work!
Andy Tennant - They were flicking me and I was doing twice the work, that's inevitable when you're in a break with two riders from the same team, but I just wanted to stay away. Russ Downing was their team leader and I think they were probably thinking about him coming up. I was thinking third is better than nothing so I kept working. I felt strong on the climb and thought about attacking them the last time up anyway. To come away with the win is just fantastic.

BC - What about the rest of the Premier Calendar events are they going to be a priority for you now that you have the series lead?
Andy Tennant - No I don?t think so, I'm still with the GB squad and we have races all over, I don't think the Premier Calendar will be high on the list, it's good to be back home though, I've been in Italy with the squad for a couple of years so it's good to be racing at home.

2nd place Russell Downing
BC - Russ I wrote a preview of this race for British Cycling last week and predicted Halfords Bikehut might steal your winner's spotlight, what went wrong for Candi TV Pinarello?
Russell Downing - Our team had a bit of bad luck, Dale Appleby was in the move with Andy Tennant and so we couldn't do anything. As soon as I saw Dale coming back with the puncture I hit them, the Plowman's were onto me and it re-grouped on the climb. Andy Tennant had gone and the timing was bad for us. He was very strong and deserved the win. On the run in I concentrated on getting the sprint for 2nd, which was how it worked out.

BC - When Peter Williams and Graham Briggs were in the move with Andy Tennant were they fully committed to that, or were they working for the team and you?
Russell Downing - No they were committed, we were happy having two men in the break. I was getting heavily marked in the bunch so it was good for our team to have Peter and Graham in the move. They were strong and I thought they might stay away. When they started to come back I told Dale to attack, he did and it was perfect, Dale got a good gap and it looked as though he might pull it off. Unfortunately he punctured in the last few km and we were left without a rider in the break.

3rd place Rob Partridge
BC - Rob not a bad day for your new team Halfords Bikehut with 1st and 3rd on the podium, how did the race work out for you?
Rob Partridge - Real heavy day today, like a war of attrition out there. With constant splits and coming back together it was hard work. With three laps to go there was big split which I missed, I had to work with Graham Briggs to get back on and that really took it out of me. When Andy Tennant went up the road I was able to sit back and recover, it was the perfect situation for us.

 

Andy was super strong today, he was in all the important moves, it made my job a lot easier. With four of us in the break we had a numbers advantage. But then Wilko popped after he'd done a lot of the earlier work, and it left me Mark McNally and Andy Tennant. Plowman Craven had a lot of riders in the front group, so did Pinarello, we have shown today that we have a lot of strength in depth in the Halfords squad and can pull off the win with a small amount of riders.

BC - You can never discount Russell Downing in a race like this, what was happening with his team in the inal few km?
Rob Partridge - Well Andy had gone and it was obvious he was away, it wasn't just the Pinarello's at the end it was everyone, Russ was trying to limit his loss and he got the sprint for 2nd, which is quite a good performance, but the Halfords boys have done it today, with two on the podium, we are very happy.

Will Bjergfelt's --Sport Beans Wilier
This weekend saw myself, Marcin Bialoblocki and Richard Wilkinson all riding the second round of the Premier Calendar road series in Northumberland. Seven laps of a deceptively hard rolling circuit in chilly but bright sunshine lay ahead of us. After the problems of round 1 at the Bikeline 2-Day, we were all keen to get in a good ride and do our stuff, as were the rest of the field. Politics had played a part here too though, with the organiser having to reduce the size of the field from 140 to 100, even on closed roads. The race was run off safely and went without a hitch though - very welcome in the current climate.

As the race got underway, it wasn’t long before the attacks started with Richard making the early action. The main players sat in biding their time but after about an hour of racing a large attack over the top of the main climb from Plowman Craven saw the field split into three. I was feeling really strong and easily made the front group. Meanwhile, back in the second group, Marcin had missed the move and was making some crazy attacks to try and get across. He was heavily marked however and not keen to tow all and sundry up to the front group.

The pace in the break frequently sped up and slowed down as no-one was really working all that well. The size of the group (around 30 riders) meant that many were just taking tickets and enjoying the ride. As a result, we were caught on the third lap by the second group, swelling the break to 50+ riders, Marcin now included. 'Enough of this' I thought and as we hit the climb for the third time, I went to the front and put some power down.

Crossing the hill prime line first, I looked back and the race had again split, this time with around 25 riders in the front group and all the key players included - Marcin too!

This group was to be the final selection and while for a couple of laps all riders did some work, again the attacks came hard and with two laps to go, this saw the break split into two groups. But with most of the Plowman Craven riders in the back part of the split, they became very active to address the situation. They worked like Trojans and with one lap to go, it was all-together again.

Now it was Halfords Bikehut's turn to attack and with around five miles to go Andy Tennant (Halfords/Bikehut) got away with Dale Appleby (Pinarello RT), who promptly punctured, leaving ex-Junior World Pursuit Champion Tennant to put his head down and just stay away to take a fine lone win, 8 seconds clear.

As the abortive chase to reach Tennant came to its conclusion, Marcin ducked it out in the sprint and took 3rd in the front group behind Russ Downing and Rob Partridge (4th overall) and I then took second place in the second group sprint to take 16th @ 39secs down on the winner with Rich then coming home in 29th @ 4mins 35 secs.

The race was dispatched at a brisk 26mph average speed!

Result - Tour of the Reservoir 2009 (provisional)
1 Andy Tennant Halfords Bikehut 3.36.27
2 Russ Downing Candi TV Pinarello RT @ 8 secs
3 Rob Partridge Halfords Bikehut Same time
4 Marcin Biabilicocki Sports Beans/Wilier @ 12 secs
5 Dean Downing Rapha Condor Same time
6 Evan Oliphant Plowman Craven - Madison Same time
7 Tom Murray Plowman Craven - Madison Same time
8 Steve Lampier KUK Kinesis Same time
9 Mark McNallyHalfords Bikehut Same time
10 Graham Briggs Candi TV Pinarello @ 14 secs
11 James Williamson Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful Same time
12 Tom Barras Plowman Craven - Madison Same time
13 Matthew Kipling KUK Kinesis @ 18 secs
14 James Sampson Candi TV Pinarello Same time
15 Matthew Higgins Team Corley Cycles @ 39 secs
16 Will Bjerfelt Sportsbeans/Wilier Same time
17 Jon Tiernan-Locke Plowman Craven - Madison Same time
18 Matt Cronshaw Rapha Condor Same time
19 James Millard Plowman Craven - Madison Same time
20 Alastair Kay York Cycleworks @ 42 secs
21 Peter Williams  Candi TV Pinarello Same time
22 Dale Appleby Candi TV Pinarello @ 1.20
23 Stephen Adams Plowman Craven - Madison @ 2.54
24 Simon Gaywood Team Corley Cycles@ 4.35
25Marc PerryPlowman Craven - MadisonSame time
26 David Lines Endura Racing Team Same time
27 Malcolm Elliott Candi TV Pinarello Same time
28 Andrew Roche Candi TV Pinarello Same time
29 Richard Wilkinson Sportsbeans/Wilier Same time
30 Matt Rowe Candi TV Pinarello Same time

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