Premier Calendar Series 2010
Newton’s Third Premier Calendar Title
Story posted August 4, 2010 by Larry Hickmott. Pictures: Andrew Kennedy
The winner of the 2010 British Cycling Premier Calendar title is Chris Newton of Rapha Condor Sharp. The former World Track Champion finished 200 points clear of the second placed rider Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport Specialized) with New Zealand Road Race champion, Jack Bauer (Endura) in third.
Not only was Newton’s victory a dominant one in 2010, very much in the same vein as Russell Downing’s in recent years, it highlighted what a master tactician he is when it comes to the road. Newton’s victory in this season’s Premier Calendar goes back to his contract negotiations at the start of the season with manager John Herety of Rapha Condor Sharp. “I wanted him to start showing people again what he is capable of” says Herety. “I told him that with the pressure off, to a certain extent on the track this season, I want you to win Premier Calendar events for us and this season he has shown everyone what a class act he is.”
“He trained for the Premier Calendar events, he’s turned up and he’s won them. If Chris thinks he can win a race, he is a hard man to beat at any level and it’s been about getting him to believe in himself and both he and I knew he could win Premier Calendar races”.
Herety admits the season goal for his team wasn’t to win the overall but to win races and then the series would take care of itself. With the first Premier Calendar race clashing with the World Track Championships, Newton was otherwise engaged when Rapha Condor Sharp went into battle at the Tour of the Reservoir and it turned out to be Simon Richardson’s day when the Sigma Sport Specialized new signing won the opening Premier Calendar event of the season.
It was the second event of the series in Scotland however that Herety knew would be important because with so many series points on offer at the DoonHame stage race, he realised that if the team did well there, it would set them up for the series. Sure enough, Newton came into the DoonHame event straight from the 2010 World Track Championships where he was 4th and 5th in the Points and Scratch races respectively and straight away was fulfilling his contract with Herety.
Two stages wins out of two was a great start for Newton and then the overall victory as well meant he was quickly in the box seat for the Premier Calendar overall. Chris had not taken long to find his road legs and a month or so later, he backed up the DoonHame result with a victory in the most prestigious Premier Calendar race of the season, the much sought after Lincoln Grand Prix.
Then came another victory in the Beaumont Trophy followed by two fourth places (a curse of Chris’s this position) in the final two rounds of the series, the East Yorkshire Classic and the Richmond GP. Despite being the most marked man in the races, Newton was able to shrug off his frustrations of riders not committing to breaks and he carried on dominating the series.
Newton’s victory however is not just down to his own class but also that of his team that backed him up, Rapha Condor Sharp. “I think the performances this season are a compliment to the team in that it wasn’t only Chris winning the races but there was also a strong team backing him up” says the team manager Herety. “Chris thrives on the set up here, an environment similar to what he is used to in World Class.”
If Newton’s victory was a dominant one, the battle for the placings behind him was a tight one and with the victories in the other rounds shared around the peloton, the series was far from dull. Sigma’s Simon Richardson had kicked the 2010 Premier Calendar off with a win in the Tour of the Reservoir before Newton returned from international duty and took over during April and May.
Newton’s teammate Dean Downing showed yet again he is far from just a crit rider when he won the round in Dumfries at the end of May to continue Rapha Condor Sharp’s dominance in the series. It was Endura Racing’s turn in June at the Ryedale Grand Prix when Welshman Rob Partridge had his biggest career win in the Yorkshire event.
Normal service from Newton was resumed at the next round in the North East for the Beaumont Trophy before yet another surprise, a very popular one at that, when Dave Clarke of Pendragon Le Col Colnago had his biggest British career win with victory in the East Yorkshire Classic.
The racing was, as ever, never dull and unlike stages in a race like the Tour de France where road racing can be tedious for hours on end, not so in the Premier Calendar. Despite teams having grown stronger this year, the racing was still out of control in many respects and riders from all the teams were able to ‘have a go’.
The final race of the season, the Richmond Grand Prix was an example of this with the break continuously within sight of being caught and the action behind non-stop to bring it back by riders wanting to stamp their authority on the event. The rider who did that was the 2009 British Road Race Champion, Kristian House who sealed a fantastic season for Rapha Condor Sharp.
His manager, John Herety at Rapha, explained that at Richmond, the team were able to go into the race not having to worry about the overall as that had already been won. “We went into the season looking to win every Premier Calendar event and even towards the end when we shifted towards Chris winning the overall, it wasn’t going to be at the expense of the team winning a race. I didn’t want us to be racing negatively.”
“I think Richmond showed that when we were able to race without having to have an eye on the overall, and we were able to race openly, we were by far the strongest team over that sort of terrain and distance.”
The Premier Calendar Season
The Premier Calendar season with stronger more evenly balanced teams was a good one says Herety. “We have seen three big teams with a fourth one nearly at the same level in Sigma Sport that has helped the racing this season. The only negative thing I can think of is the lack of new talent and that is worrying and scary”says John.
As well as the highlight of his team winning the series and Newton’s classy ability to do what he set out to do, there have been other things of note to come from the season for Herety. Like Dean Downing’s victory in a Premier Calendar event and Kristian House believing in himself and coming up with a number of notable victories such as at Richmond and elsewhere.
Herety also made special mention of one young rider who has of late been riding well, Jonny McEvoy and also Dave Clarke who has been one of only a few riders who can be relied on to commit to working hard in a chase or break. Clarke’s victory in the East Yorkshire Classic for example, was says Herety, fully deserved from a rider and a team who have committed fully to supporting the Premier Calendar.
It is the support the Premier Calendar events get from teams and riders that makes them so special. Sure, all riders know that the big teams are the favourites but riders like Wouter Sybrandy last year and Rob Partridge and Dave Clarke this year have shown that there can be surprises. Fields of 100 or 200 in the case of the Lincoln, are proof that the Premier Calendar races are the events riders want to race and challenge themselves in.
Like every year, all the riders who competed in the Premier Calendar deserve to be congratulated for taking on that challenge and especially Chris Newton who won his third Premier Calendar Series with the first one coming way back in 1998.
Special mention also to Sportscover’s John Tanner. The Doncaster rider has won the series no less than five times and this year, accompanied by his son Jake also racing for Sportscover, John has again been supporting the series, finishing in 11th position. Just one of many special stories to come out of this great series which is now finished for another year. Roll on 2011…
Final Series Standings
1 Chris Newton Rapha Condor Sharp 543