Europa 2-Day (Premier Calendar)

Newton makes Europa his own
By David Taylor for Snowdon Sports Editorial. Photos by Phil O’Connor.

Chris Newton, winner of the opening Oleum Grand Prix a t Good wood, is back on top in the Premier Calendar series after another long journey south to win the Europa Two-Day in Hampshire

ASSERTING his claim for the Premier Calendar title, Chris Newton (Middridge CRT-Donohue Cycles) notched up a record third consecutive victory in the Europa Two-Day road race in Hampshire at the weekend.

The 26-year-old Teesside rider, who won the Premier Calendar series in 1998 but had his biggest successes against the clock last year, underlined his time trial talent when he won the stage-two individual test to take over the race lead in the Europa event, decided in three legs over a total of 159 miles in and around Bishop's Waltham.

Newton, who won the Europa race in 1998 as a member of the all-conquering Team Brite and followed up last year with the equally dominant Linda McCartney squad, was virtually a one-man band this time, with only team-mate Phil West in support.

However, after missing the decisive move in the Essex Grand Prix and retiring with punctures and mechanical trouble in the RomfordHarlow, Newton was back on song to fend off the expected challenge of Premier Calendar title holder Gordon McCauley (Equilibrium Essentia Oleum RT).

Stage one winner Julian Winn, riding for the Welsh squad, claimed third place overall ahead of ion Clay, now riding for South Leeds Builders Merchants, and Andy Lyons (Terry Wright Cycles-Raleigh RT), who are both in the top six of the Premier Calendar after previous placings.

The event got off to a difficult start on wet roads and in cold conditions. An early crash, caused when a rider's
wheel slipped away, brought down 10 riders and split the bunch. Some never got back into the race, spending the rest of the stage chasing.

The day's hero was Julian Winn, first away in every move and still strong enough to take the stage win, leaving Welsh team manager Shane Sutton with a smile on his face. Chris Newton was happy to have lost only seven seconds, confident that he would have the edge in the time trial.

But the final road stage left Newton having to mark McCauley all the way. Both saved their efforts for the second half of the stage, with McCauley leaving any necessary chasing to Newton while he looked for openings to slip away.

Newton, however, was vigilant. McCauley was never able to get under his guard and, as in 1999, had to settle for second place.

Stage one

WELSHMAN Julian Winn quickly made his intentions clear in Saturday's 68-mile opening leg. As the race reached the day's circuit, after the run out from Bishop's Waltham, he was up the road and not to be seen again by most of the field until they were back in the changing rooms.

Winn's move sparked others into action and, as news of a stack-up in the bunch came through, a 20-strong group formed in pursuit of Winn. Among those delayed by the crash were some top names, including Gethin Butler (Preston Wheelers) and Mark Lovatt (Pro Vision-PowerBar).

The 20 chasers soon reached Winn, among them Chris Newton, McCauley, Aaron McCaffrey (Heff's Bike Shop), Andy Lyons, Paul Manning (Preston Wheelers) and Jon Clay. Sensing the danger, Matt Illingworth (unattached) and Bradley Wiggins (WCPP) emerged from the pack to give chase along with Hamish Haynes (Prickett Atom Elite RT).

With 18 miles behind them, the 21 leaders were 26 seconds ahead of the Illingworth group as Haynes dropped back under the pressure of the chase.

Meanwhile Butler and Lovatt had battled their way back into the race and, with Danny Axford (Real Cost Car Imports) and Peter Murdoch (Scotland), they reached Illingworth as Wiggins, too, went backwards.

At 36 miles, Winn's group was 48 seconds clear of Butler and his four companions, with a decimated bunch at 1-48 and effectively out of the race.

Then, over the climb towards the Millburys pub crossroads, the bunch blew apart and left the break as the biggest group on the road.

But they too, began to fall apart under Winn's pace and by the bell lap, Winn only had Newton, Huw Pritchard (Linda McCartney RT) and Rod Ellingworth (Team McEll) for company. In the group behind them, Clay and Chris Walker (Extran) were the driving force and their efforts began to pull back the leaders, who by now were watching each other as the finished approached.

Just as the two groups merged, Winn jumped again with a mile to go and, although McCaffrey and McCauley almost reached him on the line, he held on for stage victory. Walker finished strongly to snatch fourth, just ahead of Newton.

Butler, Lovatt and Axford had continued to power forward and almost made it to the front runners, finishing less than half a minute behind Winn. Other riders were spread over 40 minutes.

1. Julian Winn (Wales) 68m in 2-21-45
2. A. McCaffrey (Heff's Bike Shop)
3. G. McCauley (Equilibrium Essentia Oleum RT) both st
4. C. Walker (Extran) at 7sec
5. C. Newton (Middridge CRT) st
6. J. Clay (South Leeds BM) at 9sec
7. M. Ford (unatt) at 10sec
8. K. Freeman (High Wycombe CC)
9. P Manning (Preston Wh)
10. R. Sharman (Alsys-Bradgate CRT) all st.

Stage two

NATIONAL time trial champion Chris Newton showed he had lost none of his skills against the clock when he won the 3.9-mile individual TT at Bishop's Waltham on Sunday morning.

Newton was the only rider inside eight minutes, his 7-55 giving him the verdict by seven seconds from Bradley Wiggins while Jon Clay, winner of the equivalent stage last year, had to settle for third place this time.

Clay, who had pipped Newton by a single second last year, lost 16 seconds to his former team-mate over the same course which started and finished in the balloon-decked Bishop's Waltham High Street.

Newton's ride earned him the yellow jersey, 11 seconds ahead of McCauley, who took 25 seconds longer to finish the course and ended up in 10th place. Newton's lone team-mate Phil West managed to hold off former junior 10-mile champion Paul Manning by a second for fourth place.

1. Chris Newton (Middridge CRT Donohue Cycles) 7 55
2. B. Wiggins (WCPP) ............ 8 02
3. J. Clay (Sth Leeds BM) ......... 8 11
4. P. West (Middridge CRT) ........ 8 13
5. P. Manning (Preston Wh) ........ 8 14
6. C. Walker (Extran) ............. 8 15
7. M. Illingworth (unatt) ........... 8 17
8. A. Lyons (Terry Wright Cycles-Raleigh) ..... 8 18
9. R. Hayles (Athletes 1) ........... 8 19
10. G. McCauley (Equilibrium Essentia Oleum) ..... 8 20

Stage three

HE might be based in Belgium, but Rob Hurd (RCS Bioagrico) was cheered in by an enthusiastic crowd as he gave the Europa Two-Day a local winner.

Although he spends most of his time racing in Belgium, Hurd comes from nearby Winchester, a fact that didn't escape the local spectators who lined the finishing straight in Bishop's Waltham.

He crossed the line alone to notch up his first ever Premier Calendar success after catching and then dropping Gethin Butler over the final undulating miles into the finish.

Unlike Saturday's wet and cold conditions the race's longest stage, over 87 miles, was blessed with blue skies on Sunday.

After a brief hold-up caused by a horse and rider on the course, the race got under way with Mark Lovatt, Hamish Haynes, Bradley Wiggins and James Taylor (City of Edinburgh RC) jumping clear as the race climbed the hill out of Meonstoke.

Lovatt, intent on taking the prime on offer each time through Bishop's Waltham, put in a great deal of effort to keep the group clear. As the leaders changed, Lovatt was the constant factor, taking five of the possible seven lap primes.

Eventually six riders escaped after 35 miles - Lovatt, Paul Manning, Andrew Parsons (Amore e Vita), Huw Pritchard, Matthew Larner (Lichfield City CC) and Peter Kench (Liphook Cycles RT). Once they were 43 seconds clear, Manning became race leader on the road.

A maximum lead of 1-07 brought the bunch to life as Chris Newton and Gordon McCauley attacked, launching a chain reaction that brought the field together with 50 miles covered.

Rob Hurd broke away at 57 miles, and the bunch split on the long climb out of Meonstoke as Newton, McCauley, Winn, Stephen Stoneman (Real Cost Car Imports), James Griffiths (Wales), Peter Swettenham (Twickenham CC), Harry Lodge (Amore e Vita), Jon Clay, David Rand (Bournemouth Arrow), Gethin Butler, Paul Pickup (Liphook Cycles RT), Daniel Lloyd (Raleigh Factory Racing), Bill Nickson (Scotland), Rob Hayles (Athletes 1), Danny Axford, Anthony Malarczyk (Real Cost Car Imports) and Andy Lyons pulled away to join Hurd.

The leaders soon had 30 seconds, which went to a minute as the last lap got under way. The final effort up from Meonstoke saw the leading pack strung out as riders fought to hold wheels.

This was where Butler made his move, quickly followed by the powerful Hurd. The pair pushed on, and a time check gave them 26 seconds as Newton and McCauley led the chase behind them.

Hurd forced the pace over the top of the hill and Butler lost a length, then two, as Hurd put his head down. Butler was only a handful of seconds behind Hurd, but could not close the gap.

With the bit between his teeth, Hurd pounded on down into Bishop's Waltham, and victory before his home crowd. Butler just managed to hang on to second as Rand and Axford finished on his heels.

1. Rob Hurd (RCS Bioagrico) 87m in 3-2128
2. G. Butler (Preston Wh) at 13sec
3. D. Rand (Bournemouth Arrow)
4. D. Axford (Real Cost Car Imports) both st
5. J. Clay (South Leeds BM) at 19sec
6. C. Newton (Middridge CRT)
7. J. Winn (Wales)
8. S. Stoneman (Real Cost Car Imports)
9. B. Nickson (Scotland)
10. R. Hayles (Athletes 1) all st.


1. Chris Newton (Middridge CRT-Donohue Cycles) 5-51-28
2. G. McCauley at 13sec
3. J. Winn at 17sec
4. J. Clay at 18sec
5. A. Lyons (Terry Wright Cycles-Raleigh) at 32sec
6. G. Butler at 39sec
7. C. Walker (Extran) at 57sec
8. D. Axford at 1-06
9. S. Stoneman at 1-09
10. P. Manning (Preston Wh) at 1-13
11. G. Stirzaker (Anglia Sport) at 1-21
12. R. Ellingworth (Team McEll) at 1-32
13. H. Pritchard (Linda McCartney RT) st;
14. J. Ansell (Gore Bike Wear) at 1-35
15. R. Morgan (Festival RC) at 1-48
16. M. Ford (unatt) at 1-50
17. M. Lovatt (Pro Vision-PowerBar) at 1-57
18. A. Malarczyk (Real Car Costs Imports) at 2-04
19. T. Barras (Linda McCartney RT) at 2-21
20. G. Bayton (Total Fitness RT) at 2-33.

BCF Premier Calendar (prov overall after four events)

1. Chris Newton 80 pts
2. W. Randle (Pro Vision-PowerBar) 65
3. A. Lyons 63
4. J. Tanner (Pro Vision- PowerBar) 55
eq 5, J. Clay & G. McCauley 50.

What they said

CHRIS Newton and his lone team-mate Phil West had reason to be pleased with a good weekend's work. "It was a good race, and I'm pleased to have won for a record third time," said Newton.

"I felt strong enough to do a good time trial, and Phil was a big help in the other stages, doing what he could for me. He worked hard, containing things for me in the first four laps of the final stage.

"I attacked on the third climb out of Meonstoke to get a smaller group away. worked for a lap, keeping the pace up, and then I sat in for a lap.

"I was hoping that someone would go away to take the time bonuses, so when Gethin [Butler] got away, followed by Hurd, I was pleased. That left me to cover the moves as we approached the finish."

Newton has his programme mapped out for the next few weeks, but his long-term plans are less clear: "I'm riding the Archer, the Lancaster Mercedes Grand Prix and the Girvan Three-Day, but after that I don't know. I'm still hoping to move towards the track, which seems to be the only place older riders can hope for selection. While I'm racing I'm OK, but when I'm not I often wonder if it is all worthwhile.

"It's thanks to my wife's encouragement that I keep racing. I'm only 26, with my best years to come, and yet there seems little future in racing for me."

Gordon McCauley was content for Newton to have the yellow jersey going into the final stage, but his hopes of dislodging his rival came to nought. "I tried a few times to attack Newton," said McCauley later. ""I was glad he had the responsibility of the jersey - had it last year, and had to do the defending.

"I had a few goes, but Newton was always there. In the leading group, I went through a few times, ducking and diving when I could. missed some turns, trying to save something for one big effort, but it never came off. I was going better than I thought I would, and there's always another day.