British National Team Time-Trial
McCartneys all stand together
The Linda McCartney bandwagon rolled on as Chris Newton, already the individual 25' and BCF time trial champion, added a gold medal in the RTTC National Team Time Trial Championship
IN a virtual repeat of last year's display by Team Brite, three members of that squad - Jon Clay, Matt Illingworth and Chris Newton - were joined by Chris Walker in a winning ride by the Linda McCartney RT formation in Sunday's RTTC National 100-kilometre Team Time Trial (TTT) Championship on Tyneside.
It was Newton's third TTT gold in as many years but it could be his last: the event may be scrapped as it no longer conforms to international competition, especially the Olympics.
The McCartney quartet covered a two-lap course based on the A69 between Newcastle and Hexham in 2-05-22 to finish almost six minutes faster than the Harrods-Sixt squad of Kevin Dawson, repeating his silver medal ride with Team Ambrosia last year, Julian Ramsbottom, Andy Naylor and Joe Bayfield.
Keith Murray, fourth in the individual 50-mile championship, led Pete Read Racing to bronze medals with the backing of Mike Hope, Joel Wainman and Rob Newman.
The course for the Tyneside Vagabonds-promoted event was newly measured as roadworks elsewhere in the region ruled out the traditional North-East courses which are on relatively quiet roads. This one took the riders west from the start at Throckley along exposed, sweeping roads in rolling countryside, with headwind drags on the return legs.
The non-appearance of Team Clean-Freshstart was a major disappointment for organiser Ray Luckett, especially after local heroes Team Guru had already scratched because both Harry Walker and Joe Waugh were suffering from tonsilitis.
The tailwind first leg to Hexham lured many into thinking the course was fast; the downhill stretches saw teams clocking 50mph. The RAF CC posted an early lead as it reached the 23.4-kilometre turn in 33-12, but that lasted less than six minutes as the VC St Raphael quartet of Paul Rogers, Rowan Horner, Malcolm Cox and Chris Birch took over with 30-55. Murray and his Pete Read Racing
colleagues were the first to get inside 30 minutes, by just four seconds. Harrods-Sixt then trimmed that to exactly 29 minutes. From then on it was a question of waiting for the inevitable as the last-off McCartneys took a further 1-48 off that time.
With an uphill return, the question of strength rather than speed came into play as riders faced the long drag toward Corbridge.
The RAF, the first team to pass the 50-kilometre timekeeper, in 1-12-09, was more than six minutes slower than on the first outward leg which was only 1.6 kilometres shorter. And the headwind was set to blow harder.
VC St Raphael again toppled the RAF with its 1-08-25, and the pattern was repeated as Pete Read Racing were clocked through at 1-06-59 and Harrods-Sixt at 1-04-44.
Proving how hard the return leg was, the first cracks were beginning to appear in some of the formations. Clay led his men through the halfway check having pulled little more than a minute up on HarrodsSixt, and its 1-01-32 for the first 50 kilometres sent a disappointing message to anyone expecting the two-hour barrier to be beaten.
Pete Read Racing was the first to drop a man, surprisingly Keith Murray. "He did a big turn first, though," explained team-mate Wainman later.
Harrods was next to abandon a rider. Joe Bayfield drew the short straw as he blew on the Corbridge drag, which proved the breaking point for many teams. It was around the same 80-kilometre point that Matt Illingworth dropped off the rest of the McCartney team.
Back at the finish, meanwhile, the RAF team of Paul Dotchin, Rich Berry and Ian Brown were first home in 225-17, having lost Guy Lawton with a puncture, but they were pushed off the leaderboard to the tune of seven minutes by VC St Raphael.
However, the RAF had taken 2-02 out of Cleveland Wheelers over the second half to move up from seventh to a final fifth place. Pete Read Racing were next at the top, with 215-28, but it wasn't for long as Harrods, minus Bayfield, improved that time by 4-15.
This left just the McCartneys to arrive. They too had grovelled against the headwind, although they clearly suffered less than most as they came home in 2-05-22 to record a winning margin remarkably similar to Brite's advantage a year earlier.
1. Linda McCartney RT (Jon Clay, Matt Illingworth, Chris Newton,
Chris Walker) .................... 2.05.22
Matt Illingworth knew he had been in a fight. "I didn't have a good day, simple as that," he said. "There's no reason for the RTTC to conform with anyone because it can make its own rules up,"
Chris Newton echoed that view. "It's a shame the event's going, just because it's not in the Olympics," he said. "There are a lot of things not in the Olympics, and this event shows the public the cohesion behind a team."
McCartney team leader Jon Clay added: "We didn't have any preconceptions about the course but it was hard work. We ran out of steam in the last quarter, but it's always going to be like that in a team time trial."
Kevin Dawson, who was taking his tally to two golds
and three silvers in the TTT, said: "I rode well today, and the course
and wind didn't bother me. It was a good, sporting course."