UK road racing round-up

Dean Downing keeps the pressure on

Dean Downing (Rapha Condor-Recycling) stepped up his bid for the National Elite Circuit Series crown with two good performances in the weekend’s main races.

The Yorkshireman took victory in the Brentwood Town Centre Races in Essex on Sunday where he also secured bonus points in the intermediate sprints, and with fourth spot in Saturday’s Smithfield Nocturne in London he looks set to mount a serious challenge for the series.

Downing was attacking all day at Brentwood and looked the strongest man in the field. His winning move came after half distance, around 30 minutes into the race. He attacked quickly and gained around five seconds on the bunch. Although he was pulled back by a desperate bunch, the Rapha Condor team leader dug deep and attacked again almost immediately, and this time he was away for good.

While the fast pace ensured many of the weaker riders dropped out of the back of the bunch, at the front of the race the pace was blistering and only Rob Hayles, the Halfords Bikehut rider from Derbyshire, looked up to the challenge of clawing back Downing. He battled to within eight seconds of his rival, but just failed to catch his wheel and eventually conceded, dropping back and crossing the line 28 seconds behind Downing, while Pearl Izumi rider Jeroen Janssen led in the bunch, another 16 seconds back.

Hayles had to settle for second spot 24 hours earlier in the Smithfield Nocturne, where Barloworld professional Geraint Thomas sprinted to victory in the event, which was the second in the Circuit Series. The winner of the opening round at Hillingdon a fortnight ago, Graham Briggs took third place at Smithfield, pipping team-mate Dean Downing for the final spot on the podium.

While Downing will be contesting the next round of the series at Brighouse, West Yorkshire, on Tuesday night, Briggs will not be there to challenge his team-mate for the series lead. Briggs is one of seven Rapha Condor riders who flew out to Canada shortly after the Smithfields Nocturne to take part in the prestigious five-day Tour of Beauce.

Elsewhere, Arctic Premier RT elite James Dobbin took victory in the Cycling Development North West League road race at Doveholes in Derbyshire on Sunday.

The reigning National Hill-Climb Champion from Bath, Dobbin proved his worth as a road racer when he held off the challenge of experienced roadman Matt Stephens (Sigma Sport RT). Stephens was four seconds off the pace, while his team-mate Robin Sharman was another three seconds back in third, while Kinesis UK rider Kit Gilham, the Sheffield-based rider who was crowned King of the Mountains at this year’s FBD Insurance Ras in Ireland, was fourth.

And in Essex, Andrew Ballentyne (Easterley Road Club) was the winner of the Abberton Reservior Road Race at Colchester. He covered the 106-kilometre event in 2hr 57min 49sec to win by just two seconds from Ron Hewes (Lotto Olympia), while Daniel Scott (Shaftesbury CC) completed the podium.

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
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