Rochdale Grand Prix (Elite Circuit Race
Courtesy of British Cycling and Larry Hickmott
After rain threatened to soak Rochdale on Wednesday evening as the Go-Ride event was about to get under way, the night of racing in the Lancashire town centre turned out just fine with the sun shining on the circuit that Rapha Condor rider Chris Newton has made his own over the last three years. This year was no different as he won his third straight Elite Circuit Race there but it was close… really close as the photo shows.
From the word go, the rider aiming to represent Britain in the Beijing Olympics and currently training for that event at Manchester, was on super form and from the word go was attacking the race and made several race winning moves but it was out of the ashes of a break that the winning move eventuated when he and Russell Downing got away from the rest. Simon Richardson of Plowman Craven did cross to them but paid for the effort and slipped back shortly afterwards.
The duo opened a gap quickly and it soon became apparent that with two major teams represented by the leaders, that the rest were resigned to chasing third place despite a strong chase from Plowman Caven and Science in Sport. The third place however went to Rapha's Kristian House who clipped off the front late in the race and held his place all the way to the finish.
Post race reactions
Chris Newton: For the third time, Chris has won this race and almost being a local living in Oldham which is not far from Rochdale, he certainly had his fan club there too. Chris is the current World Track Cup Points champion, an event not to dissimilar to a circuit race with lots of sprints and efforts during the 40 kilometres on the track.
Talking afterwards about his race, be told us “That was tough. I tried really hard and put that extra bit of effort into the race. I have been training really hard all year to get over the set back I had before the World Championships (Chris crashed heavily and was out injured for a month) and tonight I didn’t want to give it away so I tried really hard to get that win.”
On how all the hard training at Manchester has affected his racing, Chris replied “it’s worked really well for tonight. There are only so many hard efforts you can do when you are Team Pursuiting or doing Points work because its such top end stuff so in a bizarre way, that has been kind of a break.”
A break that looked like it was going to succeed also had Chris Newton in it along with birthday boy Malcolm Elliott. Sadly for Malcolm, it was brought back after half distance.
“I went from Abergavenny (international road race) straight to the track for 8am so that was tough for a few days but then I came round and I have continued to have a few little breaks here and there. I missed Otley (circuit race) because to be honest, I was just too tired and I think that would have been one effort too much”
On how the course at Rochdale with its 300 metre climb every lap, Chris says “I’m a punchy rider so that climb really helps me and is short and sharp so I can power up there and my recovery is really quick.”
On how the race developed where Chris was in several breaks, he explained “To be honest I thought Malcolm and me were going to stay and all of a sudden it came back really quickly. Because I was on the front I just sat in the wheels and it just went. I just wanted to do a bit of work where I was trying consecutively without getting too much of a break or recovery which is a bit like Points race.”
On the sprint: “No disrespect to Russell but I was desperate to get the win because it does wonders for your morale and as a GB rider trying to get to the Olympics, that’s important. To get some payback for the effort I am putting in”.
Russell Downing: “That was pretty close although I haven’t seen the pictures. I attacked on the last lap and thought I had the gap over the top but Chris came back and he got me on the line. I’d gone from the bottom of the hill and done a full last lap at the front. Chris has been training hard for this sort of stuff (pre-Olympics preparation) so he had the legs”.
“I’ve done nothing all week which is part of my little mini break and I’m only going out on the bike in decent weather. I’m not putting pressure on myself now, and looking at my big build-up for the Tour of Britain and just keep riding. I’ll be at Blackpool for the weekend. I haven’t been at home for the last four or five weekends so a weekend off the week after will be nice.”
Kristian House: Third in the race was another Rapha Condor/Recycling rider making it a 1-3 for the team. At the start, the men in black had four riders on the grid before any other team had a rider called to the line which shows how well they have been doing in this series. For House, a rider very comfortable sitting in the paceline at the highest level, Rochdale was one of the few times his effort in the race was rewarded.
He explained that the morning of the race in Rochdale he was out for three hours and the legs didn’t feel to great and he was nervous about the race. “We have a strong team for these crits so I was confident we’d do alright. “My move at the end was just one of those things and I knew it would force the other teams to chase which would then give guys like Briggsy and Dean an easier ride especially to the finish with two laps to go.”
“Once I got the gap, I thought I can stick this and put my head down and went.”
The last time I had seen Kristain was at the British Championships when he had made a break but punctured and with no service to help, he had to wait for the peloton to pass before getting a wheel. “The break was not going to stick and it was about the effort it took to get back to the peloton which was quite lot. The race was good for the team but as an individual, disappointing but it’s not always about the individual.”
“Back in 2006 the team helped me a lot and I won a lot of races, where as this year I haven’t won as much but I have played an important role in the team so it balances out. That’s bike racing and part of being on a team with so many good riders. You can have great form but not get great results while you’re teammates are winning races. That’s the way it is and I have no hard feelings over that.”
“I’ll get my shot. I’m now looking forward to the Tours of Ireland and Britain. Both are big races that I’d like to do well in”
1. Chris Newton Rapha-Condor /Recycling.co.uk