Essex Grand Prix (Premier Calendar)

Brite start
By Kenny Pryde. Pictures by Phil O’Connor

Chris Newton gave the newly-formed Brite Voice team the best possible start to the season with a win in the opening Premier calendar race of the season, the Grand Prix of Essex, at Halstead last Sunday

CHRIS Newton, the 24year-old Teessider, outsprinted 1997 BBAR Kevin Dawson of GS Strada to win a slow-toignite 44th Grand Prix of Essex. The opening three 28-mile laps saw numerous short-lived breaks gain a few hundred metres before coming back to the bunch, and the service car was rarely called in to cover any move - in short, nobody got the 30-second gap required to merit the close attendance of a service vehicle.

However, for the record, some of the names attached to the numbers which came through on the race radio were in alphabetical order, rather than in deference to the duration of a break or seriousness of a move: Matt Anand (Mercury RT), Ian Gilkes (GS Strada), Mark Lovatt (GS Strada), Mark MacKay (Harrods), Simon Howes (West Drayton MBC), Gary Patterson (Edinburgh Bicycle) David Rand (WCUPDM), Nick Salmon (RV08), Drew Wilson (Clarke's Contracts), Dave Williams (unattached), and so on. There were many more, too numerous to mention.

In the end it came down to two six-mile laps of a finishing circuit up Halstead's main street, taking in Gosfield and a series of little rises and undulations which would form the springboard for the winning move.

Brite Voice captain Jonny Clay moved beside Newton to tell him to get his body nearer the front because it was all going to happen soon. "I couldn't see it myself because the pace hadn't gone up or anything but when we sprinted for a prime [in Halstead high street] it all split." 16 riders went clear, with Newton jumping across a gap to make contact with the leaders. Once he had done this he waited until - with less than four miles to go - he jumped again, this time off the front. After he had gained a short lead, Dawson went after him, making contact after an intense effort and the pair got down to business.

Behind these two, Dave Rand and Canadian Matt Anand were chasing and a two-up pursuit ensued, though with Dawson in front and Newton doing his bit, the balance of power lay with the north rather than Wales. In the final kilometre Dawson led out to the foot of the high street, at which point Newton came round him and, although Dawson closed slightly in the final metres, Newton was a comfortable winner.

1. Chris Newton (Brite Voice) 102 miles in 4-00-31
2. K. Dawson (GS Strada) at st
3. D. Rand (WCU-PDM) at 12sec
4. M. Anand (Mercury CT) at 18sec
5. J. Ramsbottom (North Wirral Velo) at 27sec
6. J. Bayfield (Team Invader)
7. G. Holmes (Adidas - SciCon)
8. R. Downing (Brite)
9. M. Walsham (Linda McCartney Foods)
10. J. Wright (Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op)
11. G. Weir (Team Velocity)
12. C. King (Team Bristol)
13. S. Tamblin (Letchworth Velo)
14. A. Profitt (VC Deal)
15. R. Moore (Clarke's Contracts)
16. D. Barclay (Arctic 2000)
17. S. Gamble (Linda McCartney Foods)
18. R. Hayles (Brite) all st
19. M. Ford (GS Strada) at 58sec
20. J. Tanner (Brite) at st.

Neil Miller King of the Hills Trophy.- Brian Fleming (Cannons Sports Clubs).

Newton’s big year

CHRIS Newton looked delighted as he crossed the line in the high street, as well he might. The Essex was his third Premier Calendar win, following the Tour of Lancashire, the Archer Grand Prix and "stages here and there".

Following a season spent in France, Newton is back home with a mortgage, marriage plans and a UCIregistered team, all of which seemed unlikely after the Tour de I'Avenir in September last year, which he quit when the race was in the Pyrenees. Things appear to be going better now.

"I had my usual winter," said Newton, tanned and healthy following the Brite training camp in Benidorm two weeks ago. "We had a good camp. really enjoyed it actually, which makes a change, I think if was the first time I've never been ill. I went there in reasonable shape and basically did three big mileage days on the trot then took an easy day. I'm going well just now and I generally do at this time of year and I'm sure that people will catch me up in a couple of weeks. I don't want to go much better than this yet, not with the Prutour coming up."

As far as his winning ride was concerned Newton admitted that he had basically waited till the finale. "I think everyone knows that the race only really starts when you get on to the finishing circuits because the big circuits aren't really testing enough to split the race, it's just a wearing down process till then."