Bikeline 2-day (Premier Calendar)
Newton Wins Bikeline 2-Day
Day 1: Stage 1 ITT
It may have only been short but with a howling headwind along the entire course of 1.6 kilometres, the stage was far from an easy one. Most riders rode normal road bikes but many of the GC contenders were tricked up with their TT bikes and fastest of them was Chris Newton in 2.54, just over three seconds faster than Ian Wilkinson and 6 seconds faster than Sweden's Johannson.
1. Chris Newton REC 0:02:54.47 02:54.47
Stage 2, 56 km
On the start line for this short stage with the wind still howling around the sports centre, was a field of 100 riders and in Yellow was Chris Newton. After Plowman Craven sent a rider up the road, the action really started hot up in the freezing wind and a break started to form at the front with 15 or more riders in it. With less than a lap to go, it was looking like a sprint finish but on the line in Hope, two riders appeared sprinting the stage out, Dean Downing and Ian Wilkinson with the rapha Condor rider winning his first for his new team.
Afterwards Downing was pleased saying "that was a hard hard race. The crosswind section coming into the finish was a really really hard wind, and it started rolling just before we turned left on the short lap. I went straight from the back and I didn't know Wilko was on my wheel. He came past me and said we have a gap so lets go. So we hit it as hard as we can and I knew Wilko was riding really hard for the overall so I think Wilko was a little gassed in the sprint. In the group earlier, everyone was working for like two laps and then the wind hit us and the group seemed to get smaller and smaller."
1. Dean Downing RAP 1:17:21 1:17:21
OVERALL AFTER DAY 1
Day 2: Stage 3 Denbigh Circuit
The day began with dry weather and a lot less wind which meant the race was going to be easier for the riders. One rider missing was Jack Woodward from Science in Sport/Trek who broke his collarbone for the second time in six months after he hit a car head on when the bunch was echeloning on the wind and didn’t make it back in time, writing off his Trek bike and his early season with the injury.
As soon as the flag dropped, Gordon McCauley (Plowman Craven/Evans Cycles) attacked and stretched the field of 100 riders out. The race then settled down into a series of attacks as riders tried to get a break going. Each time we saw the field on the small circuit which came after a good 50 kilometres of racing, there was a different break seconds ahead of the bunch and nearly always, Gordon McCauley, a former Premier Calendar winner was in one of the breaks.
Then, with two laps to go of the small circuit, a small break got away and was joined by other riders to make a leading group of 15. The break included Chris Newton, Gordon McCauley, Oli Beckingsale, Fred Johannson, Matt Stephens, Ian Wilkinson, Simon Richardson, Robin Sharman, James Millard, Dean Downing, Giancarlo Checci, Jason Mcintyre, Wayne Randle, Gary Adamson as well as a rider from Recycling.couk and Pinarello.
The lead group had to ride hard to escape the bunch and then when they got to the long 7% climb which was only 20k from the finish, the expected attacks came and from that give riders got clear, Newton, Checci, Beckingsale, Downing and Sharman. Behind them, it was another group of five chasing lead by McCauley. The two raced for the finish, seconds apart and with Newton hell bent on winning the overall, the leaders stayed clear with Downing raising two fingers to the rest to signify his second stage win!
POST RACE REACTIONS
Chris Newton: “Not a bad start to the year” he started by saying. “Last week I was recovering from a cold and this week went well in the time trial which was to be expected with the work I have been doing. Then yesterday, it was my fault Wilko got away but sometimes its better not to have the jersey in these type of races. Today, the lads for Recycling rode well and covered everything.”
Talking about the group of 15 that got away, Chris says “everyone was tapping through but it took a while for it to get over a minute. As we got to the climb, Gordon went first followed Robin Sharman and then me. Then it got brought back in a little dip and we went again and it was the five of us. Dean was the last to get across to us. We all worked and it was touch and go so I was burying myself so I got a lot of work out of the ride for the Worlds.”
“It will be difficult to win the overall but I like to win races and especially a Premier Calendar which I didn’t get last year. Went close a few times. I think I miss one and then may be back for the Girvan I think.”
Robin Sharman: “It was a tough day. Deano went well again, and was very strong in the finish as was Chris. Both were working really hard and I couldn’t really match them turn for turn on the downhill but I gave it everything as I knew it would be mean moving up overall. It was disappointing to lose out on the stage in the last 20 or 30 metres but it’s a good start for the team. They rode well today and hopefully it can only get better”.
“Before the start, I was saying as long as I am in the top 5 or top 10, I can work on that for the rest of the year so to be second overall, I’m happy with that for now. The team has a good set up, a lot of young guys and some talent.”
“There was no dominant team out there and it makes for good racing. When it (the break) went, it really was flat out with the bunch chasing behind. There were breaks coming and going all the time and I think there was a group of seven of us slipped off the front, saw we had a gap and gassed it and then a group came across and we carried on working.”
Dean Downing: “This is a dream start to the year for me. I’m ecstatic to get two stage wins. Before the climb there were about 15 riders and I think everyone was a bit scared of the hill. I didn’t know where it was and it turned out to be a hard climb. Chris was pulling hard big time in the break and G (Giancarlo) was pulling as well.”
“It was fast out there and not quite as windy as yesterday. Everyone was watching each other (early on) because the GC was so tight and I think the guys in the final split, were the guys in the decent teams. Chris had his guys in every move, and our guys were brilliant today. In the final Giancarlo attacked with Chris on his wheel and I had to make a big effort to get across to them. We were all going full gas for the finish.”
“The five of us (Newton, Sharman, Checci, Beckingsale, and Downing) were working perfectly. Chris was going for the overall and we were getting time checks, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds…. It was a slender lead but I think Chris may have got the overall.”
“This is a new team for me” and then Dean said tongue in cheek “its good to get rid of my brother (Russell is in America) and be a team leader! I can have riders riding for me which is great and they did fantastic job today. It was a good team effort. We’re quite close as a team after we had a training camp two weeks ago and that was a good opportunity to get to know each other. With training camps you eat, sleep and breathe bike riding and we came out of it well. Rapha Condor are brilliant, the bikes fantastic and the clothing stylish.”
“My goal for the year is the Premier Calendar overall and I think I have got a few points this weekend!”
Ian Wilkinson: The SiS/Trek rider went into the day leading overall and afterwards said “It were good. Tried my best but it was real good I just missed out which is a shame (he was 3rd) but I am quite happy. With so many teams it was tight out there and I think it will be like that all year. With teams fighting between themselves, the racing will be better. The hill today was the deciding factor and they got a little gap on us. Plowman Craven didn’t have anyone in front and Gordon and his mate they were bombing along doing some good turns with Simon Richardson as well. It was like a Team Pursuit all the way to the finish.”
Gordon McCauley: “I wanted to race it hard. For some reason, I didn’t fire in the Time Trial, maybe it was bit short. So I lost time and decided I am going to race all day today. Unfortunately I wasn’t expecting that climb and I kind of lost the wheel and there was five of us chasing the leaders.”
“We sat about 10 seconds behind them from the climb full noise. I want to win the Premier calendar overall so it is about getting points so I was chasing hard to get a high place on GC. The last time I won the Premier Calendar it came down to the last race and three points, so every point counts. The level is fairly similar to when I won it last time. Many of the same guys and a few new younger faces popping up at the front with a few of us old guys trying to hang on”.
On his long term goal for a spot in the Time Trial at the Olympics, he says “you need a good road season behind you if you want to TT well on the road. So once the second half of the season comes round, I’ll start training for the TT at the Worlds.”
1. Dean Downing RAP 3:04:21