Ian Bibby took his second win of the 2010 Halfords Tour Series, leading his Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta team back to the top of The Halfords Tour Series standings.
Motorpoint now hold a three point lead with just two rounds to go, as erstwhile leaders Rapha-Condor-Sharp had a night to forget, finishing the night in fourth position to relinquish their brief hold on the orange Halfords leader’s jerseys, and allowing Endura Racing to draw level with them in the standings.
After losing their long-time Series lead in Peterborough on Tuesday night, Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta had been under pressure to fight back in the face of repeated strong performances by the Rapha-Condor-Sharp and Endura Racing teams. With Stoke-on-Trent being the home round of Bibby & co, the technical city centre circuit proved just the location to put in an excellent performance that saw them place three riders in the top eight positions.
Once again the pace was high from the start, with the peloton soon strung out around the 1.2km course at the heart of the city centre. The early stages saw the usual game of cat and mouse, as a number of riders expended energy trying to escape the fast moving bunch.
A crash just after the line a lap before the opening Boardman Bikes Sprint of the evening briefly split the peloton, and ended the evening of Sigma Sport-Specialized’s Matt Stephens.
With Motorpoint riders ever vigilant at the front of the split, Bibby and then Andy Tennant took the chance to stretch their legs at the sharp end of the action.
The field though soon became one again, with just a few stragglers scattered around the circuit. These included Rob Hayles, another crash victim who would end his evening in the pits.
As the race wore on and the peloton stayed stretched out, riders increasingly found it harder to close the gaps in front of them. This allowed a duo of riders to go clear – Bibby and Pendragon-Le Col-Colnago’s Dave Clarke, who enjoyed an excellent, but ultimately unrewarded evening’s riding.
Bibby and Clarke pulled out around a ten second lead on the field, as Endura’s James McCallum tried to organise a chase behind. And when that chase did come, it caused the peloton behind to split, with Kristian House visible at the front of the first chasing group.
A catch looked inevitable as the field crossed the line almost within touching distance of Bibby’s rear wheel. But as Endura’s Scott Thwaites jumped across to make it a leading trio, the elastic seemed to snap and the main group quickly went from touching distance to 20 seconds in arrears.
A 25-second lead with two laps to go ensured that the peloton were fighting for fourth place, but Bibby only had eyes on one thing, and he made sure he took that number one spot by leading the sprint from a long way out up the gently sloping finish straight, crossing the line arms spread, a couple of bike lengths clear of Thwaites, who came around the tiring Clarke on the drag to the line.
There was some recompense for Pendragon though, as Yanto Barker was at the front of the charge to the line, with Motorpoint’s Jonny McEvoy just pipping him to fourth on the line.
With Ed Clancy, who spent much of the evening circulating at the back of the peloton, taking seventh and Malcolm Elliott eighth, there was a wall of Motorpoint jerseys at the front, ensuring their home round, ended with a home victory – and more importantly a return to the orange leader’s jerseys before Monday’s Chester round.
To see all the action from Stoke-on-Trent, tune in to ITV4 on Friday evening at 7pm for an hour’s highlights show. The Halfords Tour Series is back in action on Monday in Chester for Round Nine of the 2010 Series.
Also taking place on the same circuit was the first ever Horizon Fitness Women’s Grand Prix, which National Circuit Race Champion Dani King rode to a dominant win. King dropped her rivals to put in an excellent performance that saw her cross the line well clear of fellow podium finishers Hannah Barnes and Helen Wyman.
Resplendent in her champion's skinsuit, Horizon Fitness rider King went clear of the pack midway through the race, and from then on the result never looked in doubt, such was her style.
Behind King, Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta’s Barnes took second, with Wyman taking the final spot on the podium, to complete an excellent race for her Horizon Fitness Racing Team.
The Halfords Tour Series and The Tour of Britain are proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity. Don’t forget this September your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professional and ride three stages from The Tour of Britain. Go to www.tourride.co.uk to find out more!