Jack Bauer stormed to the solo win in Chester, crossing the line clear of Endura Racing team-mates Ian Wilkinson and Rob Hayles for a first ever 1-2-3 finish by a team in the Halfords Tour Series.
Behind, series leaders Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta took second place, so their overall lead was only reduced by one point, while Rapha-Condor-Sharp’s chances of the overall win were shattered when a last lap crash put them out of contention.
Large crowds lined the historic streets of Chester, particularly along Northgate Street and Eastgate Street in the heart of the city, under clear blue skies and in warm conditions, in expectation of an exciting evening's racing.
Round nine started off at a fierce pace, as both Endura and Rapha-Condor-Sharp looked to put Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta on the back foot as they sought to defend their overall lead.
First up the road with a significant lead was Kristian House, but Endura and Motorpoint were reluctant to see him escape and rode him down at the first Boardman Bikes Sprint. House crossed the line first though, setting him up for victory in the evening’s sprint competition and ensuring that, barring a final round disaster, the contest will be won by a Rapha-Condor-Sharp rider in Woking.
Several probing attacks came and went as various combinations of riders tried their luck off the front of the peloton and eventually a four-man move stuck. In it were Hayles, Darren Lapthorne, Ed Clancy and Yanto Barker, with the quartet working hard to build a lead that lasted until the approach to the third and final Boardman Bikes Sprint.
Initially the four were caught by a group of around 10 riders, but this then formed into the night’s main bunch containing the majority of those still in the race. From this group Bauer leapt clear with around 10 minutes of racing to go.
At first the Kiwi was pursued by House and a Motorpoint rider, but by the next tour the Endura rider was alone and distancing the peloton at some rate. Each lap his advantage seemed to grow, so much so that as the peloton crossed the line, Bauer had long since turned right into George Street at the top of the circuit.
With his batteries full, Bauer was able to stay clear through the final laps and take the victory alone, arms aloft. Behind things weren’t as simple, as a large crash in the final corner caused chaos, splitting the peloton and bringing down a number of riders, with the worst affected being Pendragon’s Casey Munro and the Rapha duo of Zak Dempster and Lapthorne, while Stephen Adams and Andrew Magnier both crossed the line on foot.
The disruption meant the sprint for second was an unusual affair with Wilkinson crossing the line directly ahead of Hayles and Barker, giving Endura a crushingly dominant team win. Top Motorpoint finisher was Malcolm Elliott in sixth, followed directly by Andy Tennant, while Clancy’s 13th was lucky as it ensured the Staffordshire based team took second and only lost a point to their Scottish rivals.
Heading into Woking’s final round the riders will be aiming to recharge their batteries ahead of one final push. The chaos of Chester means Rapha-Condor-Sharp are almost out of contention for the overall, which comes down to a shootout between Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta and Endura Racing two points further behind.