Tour Series Round 9: Lapthorne wins, Downing second

Team Halfords Bikehut and Candi TV tie at top of leader board

Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta packed a trio of Russell Downing, Malcolm Elliot and Graham Briggs into the first six positions at round nine of the Tour Series in Chester and took the win by a whisker from Rapha-Condor.

Team Halfords Bikehut hold onto the overall lead going into the final race in Southend-on-Sea on Thursday.

Barely two laps into the race it was time for another first in this year's Tour Series - rain. The circuit was made that little bit more tricky as the teams danced their way over the Chester cobbles and Candi TV felt it was time that they dished out some extra pain for those riders in their wake as Graham Briggs and Russell Downing kept the early pace high. 

As the hour's racing began three riders skipped off the front, led by Kristian House from Rapha-Condor and followed by Malcolm Elliot and Andy Tennant marking the move and ensuring that there was to be no repeat of the Rapha-Condor escape of Colchester.

However, as they were caught going into the first sprint Rapha-Condor team-mate Darren Lapthorne launched a big attack and took the win by five bike-lengths. He held that advantage for two more laps and then extended it to almost 10 seconds as the race approached 20 minutes.

The tricky conditions were not proving to slow the relentless average speed that has marked this Series, as the riders tapped out 28 mph even in the rain. Former Australian champion Lapthorne was revelling in the wet conditions and continued to extend his lead over the next five laps to almost 15 seconds.

Team Halfords and Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta were not going to let Lapthorne have his head for much longer though as Ian Wilkinson and Graham Briggs drove the chasers. As they approached the second sprint the Flying Dutchman Jerone Jenssen had skipped away in pursuit of the Rapha man, however the main field didn't want to let another danger-man escape and reeled in the Madison rider come the sprint.

Still, try as they might the chasers couldn't pull the Rapha-Condor rider back and over the next five laps Lapthorne amazingly extended his lead to 40 seconds by the time 30 minutes of racing passed. The team games were being played now as Rapha-Condor sat on the front of the chasing group riding tempo.

Sprint three was highly significant - firstly Lapthorne had extended his lead to over 55 seconds and secondly there appeared to be pressure in the chasing field as Team Halfords grappled for wheels in a splintering peloton. One thing was for sure, the Rapha-Condor rider was soloing his way to another superb individual win. However, as all of the teams in this year's series know it is all about getting three riders across the line ahead of your competitors, and Candi TV were highly vigilant behind the Australian and they shuffled four riders into the first 10 chasers.

With five laps to go there was a visible break in the pursuit, with Rapha's Tom Southam launching himself off the front, chased by Halford's Rob Hayles. The teams knew what was at stake and none more-so than Chester 'home-team' Rapha-Condor. So, with less than 10km to go there was to be only one winner, it was to be all about the placings in Chester.

Into the last lap, victory was assured for the supreme Lapthone and his Rapha-Condor men-in-black gathered themselves in pursuit of the team win. Chris Newton escaped in a mini-foray off the front, but was being hunted down by Halfords and Candi TV.

Lapthorne took the win, but behind there had been a last-lap carve up in the main field. Russell Downing brought the field home in customary style, chased by fast-finishing team mate Malcolm Elliot. Behind rider after rider struggled to the line, with Halfords and Candi TV scrambling for the top 10 places that mean so much.

Individual Results, Round 9 – Chester, 23 June 2009
 
1 Darren Lapthorne (Rapha-Condor)
2 Russell Downing (Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta)
3 Malcolm Elliot (Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta)
4 Jeroen Janssen (Madison.co.uk)
5 Chris Newton (Rapha-Condor)
6 Graham Briggs (Rapha-Condor)
7 Kristian House (Rapha-Condor)
8 Ian Wilkinson (Team Halfords-Bikehut)
9 John Mozely (Madison.co.uk)
10 Tom Southam (Rapha-Condor)
 
Team Results
 
1 Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta
2 Rapha – Condor
3 Madison.co.uk
4 Team Halfords BikeHut
5 Sigma Sport Cycling Team?
6 Sports Beans – Wilier
7 Endura Racing
8 Team Corley Cycles
9 BMC UK Racing Team
10 www.cyclingbargains.com
 
Team Standings after Round 9
 
1 Team Halfords BikeHut 84 pts
2 Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta 84
3 Rapha – Condor 83
4 Madison.co.uk 77
5 Sigma Sport Cycling Team 48
6 Sports Beans – Wilier 44
7 Team Corley Cycles 38
8 Endura Racing 26
9 BMC UK Racing Team 19
10 www.cyclingbargains.com 19
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