Clancy Shining Bright in Blackpool Nocturne
Olympic Champion, Ed Clancy of Halfords Bikehut, wins the Blackpool Nocturne from Dean Downing and Malcolm Elliott. Photo: Larry Hickmott
The Nocturne Series organisers must enjoy a challenge. For their Blackpool event they planned a series of bike races on a tight circuit around the streets under the famous Blackpool Tower, on a Saturday night at the height of the holiday season. The streets were packed with drunken hen and stag parties and a surprising amount of young men dressed as transvestites, they may have been a transvestites convention in town. It all goes in Blackpool, everything is on display. "The sights you see without your gun", as my grandmother used to say.
Surprisingly with mayhem on the streets surrounding the race, there were no major problems, drunken men and women were jumping over the barriers and riders had to keep an eye out for tipsy fairy princesses carrying bottles of chardonnay. The security personnel on the race did an excellent job of attempting to keep the revellers off the circuit and the race passed without major incident.
With a packed programme of events the massive crowd of race fans and families that had gathered on the Promenade were treated to a superb evening of entertainment. With the popular Le Mans style start to the folding bike race, the hoteliers time trial challenge and two great circuit races, the spectators had plenty of opportunity to bang the boards and cheer on their favourites.
The Cycling Weekly sponsored support event got the racing underway, with Eagle RC rider Phil Hersey winning from a solo attack. Hersey attacked from the start and managed to keep the whole field at bay to take a superb win in front of a huge crowd on the Blackpool Promenade.
Phil Hersey of the Eagle RC follows in the tradition of their riders winning races with long lone time trials at the head of the race. Photo: Larry Hickmott
The folding bike race is a very popular part of the Nocturne Series, and the Blackpool crowd loved it. The organisers would like us to believe that 'City types' who use their folding bikes to commute to work turned up at Blackpool for a gentlemanly race. Don't be fooled, the men and women who lined up for the Le Mans style start were deadly serious. With tanned muscular shaved legs these guys are competitive cyclists. The race was a great spectacle, with the winner taking home a brand new folding bike to add to his collection.
A summer criterium needs a few racing superstars to keep the crowd happy and the Blackpool Nocturne had them lined up in buckets. Eurosport TV commentator David Harmon interviewed continental professional riders Antonio Tauler and Franco Marvulli before moving on to Malcolm Elliott, Rob Hayles, Russ Downing and Olympic Champion Ed Clancy MBE. With the introductions over the elite riders lined up for the main race of the evening.
Action from the Folding Bike race. Photo: Andrew Kennedy
Russ Downing (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) resplendent in his brand new National Circuit Champs kit was the first to attack on the Blackpool sea front and at the end of the first lap he had opened a gap of about 5 seconds on the strung out peloton. The Rapha Condor squad were quick to react and Kristian House led the chase. On form House, the National Road champion caught Downing and moved ahead. Five laps into the race and House was clear of the field. He maintained a gap of up to 20 seconds before the Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta team took control of the chase.
Mid race and with House back in the group, another break formed that included Malcolm Elliott and Simon Holt (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta), Ian Wilkinson and Ed Clancy (Halfords) Dean Downing and Darren Lapthorne (Rapha Condor) and Andy Tinsley (SIS). This group gained about 20 seconds and with Halfords and Candi-TV riders policing the main field it looked as though it would be the race winning break.
The big name riders Tauler and Marvulli were stuck back with the chasers and looked as though they were having difficulty with the speed of the race. Russ Downing (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) wearing his National Champion jersey was not content to be left out and began a lone attack to try and bridge to the leaders. Downing was heavily marked and realised that he was taking the other riders with him. With Downing sitting up, local rider Matt Cronshaw (Rapha Condor) tried his luck at bridging to the leaders. With huge support from the crowd and a superb cornering ability, Cronshaw spent five laps on his own pulling back the leaders.
Matt Cronshaw was cranking his bike over at silly angles to get round the bottom corner and bridge to the leaders. Photo: Larry Hickmott
With only five laps to the finish, Russ Downing and Rob Hayles put in a massive attack to catch the leading group and brought the chasing group to within 15 seconds. With three laps to go, Cronshaw saw his chance to break away from the front group and attacked. The 20 year old Lancashire rider looked determined and gritted his teeth as he sped through the tight corners on the circuit. Behind him the CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta and Halfords team were steadily reeling him back and at the bell it looked as though the leading group would reform for a final sprint.
With the Blackpool illuminations lighting up the Promenade, the riders appeared for the sprint, Olympic Champion Ed Clancy was at the front being challenged by Dean Downing and Malcolm Elliott. With the first three riders lined across the road it was track specialist Clancy that got the win from Downing with Elliott claiming the final podium position.
Event director of FACE, James Pope, said: “The Nocturne Series has expanded for 2009 and all three dates had huge positive impacts on their local community. Blackpool has a unique atmosphere and it’s great to bring cycle racing here that involves everybody and fits in perfectly with the Cycle Blackpool campaign. With over 20,000 combined spectators being able to witness the free sport showcase at the Nocturne, we hope to expand the series even further and maintain position as the premier night-time racing series.”
Winner Ed Clancy (Halfords): “I’ve had a couple of days off the bike so early on in the race I was taking it easy, biding my time. When Kristian House attacked, our tactic was not to panic and let the others chase him down and even though he was out on his own, we knew he was a big danger because he’s such a strong rider."
"With Mark McNally, Rob Partridge and Wilko all in the Halfords team we were confident of getting riders in the break and that’s what we did. In the final break there were two Halfords, two Raphas and two Pinarellos, so we were up against it. Wilko saved the day for us, he told me to save myself for the sprint and he would try to keep the break together. That’s how it worked out for us. I like the sprint here, I won a few weeks ago at the Blackpool Grand Prix so I’m making this a bit of a habit.”
2nd place Dean Downing (Rapha Condor): “Rapha Condor came here with the intention of winning this race -- Kristian House was flying earlier and then Matt Cronshaw rode a brilliant race. We were all attacking and that’s how we wanted to ride. CandiTV-Marshalls organised the chase for Kristian, putting all their eggs in one basket, after that they blew".
"Simon Holt and Malcolm (Elliott) got in the break but then it got tactical. When I saw Matt Cronshaw coming across to the break at first I wondered what he was doing, but then I saw he had a big gap and I was very happy for him to get across. So I eased off a bit to let him get on. On the final corner, I got on Ed Clancy’s wheel and thought if he comes out slowly I can hold him in the sprint and maybe get around him before the line. But he flew out of the corner and it was impossible to get anywhere near him. Ed is an Olympic Champion and has a superb turn of speed, I’m happy to get second here tonight.”
3rd place Malcolm Elliott (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta): “The last thing I expected was to be on the podium tonight, I’ve had a very hard week and was tired before the start. We wanted to have Russ (Downing) in that break, which would have been the ideal situation for our team. The wind was blowing on the circuit and with a relatively small field, splits developed very quickly. Graham Briggs was going well in an early break but crashed into the barriers on one of the corners. He took a lap out and then got back into the break."
"That caused a slight problem for our team as we didn’t know whether to chase it down or not. Also Kristian House was looking very strong with his lone attack. It was thanks to Dale Appleby and Simon Holt that we got the break back, they both worked extremely hard."
"I was a bit concerned about the crowd at the back of the circuit, they were sticking their arms out over the barriers, I don’t think they appreciated what can happen if a rider catches them, the damage that can do. As the race went on it got darker and you need to focus on the road ahead, not watching out for the crowd, I had to duck quite a few hands and arms stuck out, you don’t need that as a rider. Apart from that a brilliant event and great crowds on the promenade.”
PHOTOS FROM ANDREW KENNEDY (Photos: Andrew Kennedy)
A solo victory for Phil Hersey of the Eagle RC. Photo Andrew Kennedy
Eurosport's David Harmon interviews the stars of the elite race including Antonio Tauler (left) and Franco Marvulli (right). Photo: Andrew Kennedy
Flag is raised before the start of the Elite race. Photo: Andrew Kennedy
Ed Clancy was in super form on and off the bike for the Blackpool Nocturne. Photo: Andrew Kennedy
Antonio Tauler was riding for the Bicycle Repairman (Edinburgh). Photo: Andrew Kennedy
Former circuit race champion Dean Downing was still in super form despite the lost of the champion's jersey to his brother Russell. Photo: Andrew Kennedy
PHOTOS FROM LARRY HICKMOTT (more here)
The race begins as the sun goes down on the beach front at Blackpool. Photo: Larry Hickmott
The new British circuit race champion, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta rider Russell Downing, was denied a victory by a break getting away from him. Photo: Larry Hickmott
British Circuit race champion Russell Downing and teammates from CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta present Science in Sport's Peter Slater with a framed print to thank him for his help in 2009. Photo: Larry Hickmott
The evening's action got underway with a inter-school roller competition. Photo: Larry Hickmott
Halfords rider Rob Hayles was very proud of his Green dayglo chain so people could see him when it got dark ... perhaps the influence of his new born Fergus is rubing off on the three time Olympic medallist. Photo: Larry Hickmott
The 2009 road champions -- Russell Downing (circuit race) and Kristian House (Road race). Both showed their colours in Blackpool with aggressive rides. Photo: Larry Hickmott
Airlines! Poor Franco Marvulli, one of history's top six day stars and still going strong, arrived without a bike, kit and shoes and thanks to loans from various teams, the rider who was brought to the UK by Science in Sport was able to strutt his stuff in front a big crowd. Photo: Larry Hickmott
Jamie Shirlaw holds off the pack in the support race to finish second. Photo: Larry Hickmott
Elite Race Provisional Result
1. Ed Clancy, Halfords Bikehut
2. Dean Downing, Rapha Condor
3. Malcolm Elliott, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
4. Darren Lapthorne, Rapha Condor
5. Simon Holt, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
6. Ian Wilkinson, Halfords Bikehut @ 4 secs
7. Matt Cronshaw, Rapha Condor @15 secs
8. Russell Downing, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta @ 38 seconds
9. Jo0n Mozeley, Madison.co.uk
10. Rob Partridge, Halfords Bikehut
11. Dale Appleby, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
12. Pete Williams, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
13. Jeroen Janssen, Madison.co.uk
14. Antonio Tauler, 3 Molinos Resort
15. David Clarke, Pendragon Kalas
16. Rob Hayles, Halfords Bikehut
17. Tom Southam, Rapha Condor
18. Franco Marvulli Science in Sport
19. Kristian House, Rapha Condor
20. Andy Tinsley, Science in Sport
Support Race Provisional Result
1. Phil Hersey, Eagle RC
2. Jamie Shirlaw, Liverpool Century
3. Alan Peet, VC St Raphael
4. David Streule, London Dynamo
5. Andrew Udall, Tunstall Wheelers
6. James Thompson, Sheffrec CC
7. Ben Spurrier, Team Mule Bar
8. Graham Payne, R Whitefield RT
9. Andrew Marsh, Dinnington Racing Club
10. Steve Abott, Team Wallis CHH Racing Team