Rapha-Condor's Tom Southam and teammate Dean Downing bookended Russell Downing (Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta) to round out the podium at Round 8 of the Tour Series in Colchester Thursday.
Downing's Team Halfords-BikeHut squad leads the Series by four points over Rapha-Condor, 77 to 73.
Colchester delivered the longest and one of the toughest circuits on this year’s Tour Series, the drag up Queen’s Street being the most significant climb of any round, and following a superb afternoon of support events including schools’ races and ‘Pimp my Bike’ competitions, the race rolled out at the customary 7 p.m. start time.
With a reasonably stiff headwind on the start finish straight the early pace in was relatively sedate by Tour Series standards, with the main players happy to sit in the bunch and ease themselves into yet another round of gladiatorial, city-centre bike racing that even the once-Roman inhabitants of this Essex city would have surely have enjoyed.
As the clock began the one hour countdown, after the five early laps, Dean Downing stretched his legs and was joined by Rapha-Condor team mate Tom Southam on the front, however things were yet to hot up, until Russ Downing hit the front to take Sprint 1 that was. The Candi TV man strung the 50-man field out, lifting the speed considerably and ensuring that the race was on.
Round 8 of the 10-round series was beginning to witness some heavy team tactics. Unlike the earlier rounds where furious attacking was prevalent from the off, the leading teams were now very much aware of what was at stake as this inaugural series headed closer towards its conclusion in Southend. The fellow Essex venue of Colchester was witnessing a game of chess.
Twenty minutes in and the Rapha-Condor and Madison squads exchanged some pleasantries in the home straight as the bunch remained intact tapping out an average speed of 28 mph. Then with Sprint 2 on the horizon it was time for Russ Downing to once more show off the Candi TV colours at the head of affairs, dragging a Team Halfords, Rapha-Condor, Sport Beans and Cyclingbargains rider with him as a five-man group gained a little breathing space on the main field, this was soon to be snuffed out by the compact group however.
Interestingly, as the race passed the half-way stage, the new overall leading Team of Team Halfords BikeHut were coinspicuous by their absence in any significant moves. However, the boys in gold have become race-savvy in this new form of competition and as their tactics showed in Peterborough, Blackpool and Southport the team race is won in the last few laps – the Halfords legion was yet to unleash its arsenal.
Sprint 3 saw Endura rider Evan Oliphant making one of his signature forays off the front to take the five points, and as the Scot eased over the line that man Russ Downing hammered up to his back wheel to take second. With eight laps to go the whole field were back together with another Tour Series bunch gallop looking evermore likely
With six to go Rapha-Condor launched Tom Southam off the front as the Teams looked at each other for a reaction. Such was the poker game at this stage that by the time another two laps had resided Southam had a 20-second lead, with Endura’s leading light Evan Oliphant once more on the attack trying to bridge the gap to Southam. The main field was a further 10 seconds back.
With three laps and 5km left the chances of the valiant Rapha-Condor riders’ escape succeeding were growing as Halfords rolled four men across the start finish line almost 30 seconds back. Oliphant was still nesstled between the two in no-mans-land.
Into the last lap and Southam’s win looked guaranteed as he had a 25 second advantage. The aggressive Oliphant had now been swept up by a fast-moving group headed by Team Halfords. Ian Bibby and David Fletcher buried themselves on the last lap ensuring that they gave the chosen-three of Wilkinson, Hayles and Clancy a superb spring-board into the last kilometre.
The individual race was won, and how, by an ecstatic Southam as he rolled over the line, arms aloft. But the all-important team prize was all to play for with 200 metres out and the mass of remaining Tour Series teams jostled for positions, with the inevitable trade-mark pink glasses of Candi TV man Russ Downing and big brother Dean leading the charge. It was going to take a photo to sort that lot out.
As the crowd, and team managers alike held their breaths for the Team result it was the Halfords-Bike Hut squad who had placed their first three riders highest, with Ian Wilkinson fourth, Rob Hayles fifth and Ed Clancy in seventh, ensuring that the Halfords boys took their fourth team win and the eighth round spoils. Rapha-Condor took second on the night, with Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta in third.
The team result only went to cement the overall team leader’s position inhabited by Halfords, and as the race moves into the final week of double-headers the boys-in-gold will be a tough act to topple.
|Individual Results – Round 8 – Colchester June 18, 2009|
|1 Tom Southam (Rapha-Condor)|
|2 Russell Downing (Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta)|
|3 Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor)|
|4 Ian Wilkinson (Team Halfords-BikeHut)|
|5 Rob Hayles (Team Halfords-BikeHut)|
|6 Malcolm Elliot (Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta)|
|7 Ed Clancy (Team Halfords-BikeHut)|
|8 Tom Barras (Madison.co.uk)|
|9 Jeroen Janssen (Madison.co.uk)|
|10 John Mozely (Madison.co.uk)|
|Team Results – Round 8 – Colchester June 18, 2009|
|1 Team Halfords-BikeHut|
|2 Rapha – Condor|
|3 Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta|
|5 Team Corley Cycles|
|6 Sigma Sport Cycling Team|
|7 Sports Beans – Wilier|
|8 Endura Racing|
|9 BMC UK Racing Team|
|Team Standings after Round 8|
|1 Team Halfords-BikeHut||77||pts|
|2 Rapha – Condor||73|
|3 Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta||72|
|5 Sigma Sport Cycling Team||42|
|6 Sports Beans – Wilier||39|
|7 Team Corley Cycles||35|
|8 Endura Racing||22|
|10 BMC UK Racing Team||17|
For more information, visit www.tourseries.co.uk.