Former winner of the Halfords Tour Series, Ian Wilkinson of Endura Racing, says its Rapha who are favourites for the series.
The Halfords Tour Series gets underway in Scotland on Tuesday (May 15) with an international cast for the fourth edition of Britain’s leading televised cycle race series
Britain’s ten leading professional teams have all made their final preparations for one of the most important events of the British cycling calendar, The Halfords Tour Series, which begins in less than 24 hours in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
Ian Wilkinson does his Superman impression with the help of some friends …
Endura Racing head into the first ever Scottish round of the Series on home roads as favourites in many people’s eyes having completed a clean sweep of the British Cycling Premier Calendar events held so far this season with their latest win coming courtesy of former Team Sky rider Russell Downing in the Lincoln Grand Prix on Sunday.
Heading up the opposition will be defending Halfords Tour Series Champions Rapha Condor Sharp, who will be led in Kirkcaldy by Scottish Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist James McCallum. Among McCallum’s teammates will be Olympic Gold medallist Ed Clancy MBE and recently crowned Team Pursuit World Champion Andy Tennant, both of whom are reigning Champions in The Halfords Tour Series.
A further four UCI Continental teams join Endura Racing and Rapha Condor Sharp to compete in this year’s Series, making it the strongest and most international field to date. Riders from thirteen different nations will take part in the 2012 Halfords Tour Series, with Australia and Sweden providing the largest contingents from outside Great Britain with seven and four riders respectively, while riders from as far afield as Namibia, New Zealand and Canada will also compete.
With current or former circuit race champions from the USA (Daniel Holloway), Australia (Bernard Sulzberger), Denmark (Michael Berling), and several ex-British National Champions including reigning Champion Graham Briggs, who leads Team Raleigh – GAC.
Although the Series is all about the team prize, individual wins count too, with thirteen also being the number of different round winners registered for this year’s Series, chief among them Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Sharp), who has five individual wins to his name over the past three seasons.
The Halfords Tour Series has some pretty iconic venues like Canary Wharf.
Chasing him on two wins a piece so far in Tour Series history are Briggs, Clancy, and Endura duo Ian Wilkinson and Ian Bibby, all of whom will be looking to add to their collection and to lead their team to victory in Fife. Three teams will also be making their Halfords Tour Series debuts in Kirkcaldy, with Metaltek Scott, Team Herbalife Leisure Lakes Bikes and Team Hope Factory racing all making their bow in the Series.
The glittering line-up will assemble for the first time in Kirkcaldy for Round One of the Series at 7pm on Tuesday 15th May, with highlights on ITV4 the following evening at 10pm.
Ian Wilkinson winning a stage of the Tour of Normandy. He’ll be a key player for Endura Racing
Endura Racing are not the favourites says former winner Ian Wilkinson
The team many feel are favourites are Endura Racing who every time they have rocked up to a race as a team in the UK, they’ve won. Racing for Endura Racing in Scotland on Tuesday will be Dean Windsor, Ian Bibby, Jonny McEvoy, Scott Thwaites and Ian Wilkinson with Erick Rowsell travelling as first reserve. The team have also said they may change their line-up for Durham.
Ian ‘superman’ Wilkinson of Endura Racing spoke to VeloUK after the Lincoln GP, a ‘lung opener’ he says and we asked Ian will this year be different to previous seasons?
“The other teams this year are very very strong” he says. “Rapha, the defending champions have a very strong team, Raleigh-GAC have brought in some serious firepower from around the world, Node-4 have also got riders from all over the place with fancy names. Matt Cronshaw (Node 4) is flying at the minute too so I think there is an undue amount of focus on Endura Racing after our success on the road.”
Dean Downing of Rapha will be a key part of their team. Dean has won five rounds of the Halfords Tour Series since it began in 2009 and is one of the most experienced circuit race riders.
“That success hasn’t come easily and I think the Halfords Tour Series will be really even but you have to say Rapha are still favourites with two blooming World Team Pursuit Champions on the team. Kristian as well, Dean Downing (five wins in the last three season so far) and James McCallum too and they haven’t even raced today they are taking it that seriously.”
“They are the favourites. Raleigh-GAC also have with Briggsy (Graham Briggs), the national crit champion who hasn’t raced here so a lot of people are taking it very seriously. Hopefully of course, Endura Racing will continue with our success and after finishing runners up the last two years, it would be really nice to pay back the investment from Jim at Endura.”
Endura Racing’s success so far has come in road races where their depth from stage racing has helped them at the business end of long endurance based races. Asked will it be more difficult to boss the race in a crit which is only an hour, Ian replied, “An hour’s crit can be as hard as a 100 mile race if everyone is going for it and you never stop.”
“Some of the courses as well are tough like Durham where I don’t think there is any breathing room at all because straight after the descent, you’re at the climb every three minutes.”
“They are rock hard crits and fingers crossed, with all the preparation we have done in stage racing, that will see us through. We will be trying to keep some similarity within the team (teams can use a maximum of ten riders through the series). We might not all be going 100 per cent in the first few rounds but it’s like a stage race and with eleven rounds there’s time for us to improve and get our crit legs. The only crit we’ve done was the one at DoonHame which was a procession so it’s going to be interesting.”
The winners in 2011, Rapha Condor Sharp. Of this team pictured here, two (Graham Briggs and Dean Windsor) have left for other teams which leaves three Dean Downing, James McCallum (former crit champ) and Ed Clancy (also a former crit champ and current Olympic champion). How many riders count per round for a team — three… Rapha seem pretty strong!
With the series being three rounds longer than last year, Ian says it will be important for riders to look after themselves in between, making sure they look after the little things “Riders have to make sure they get their Rego (Science in Sport) afterwards, get to the hotel and massage and hopefully that’s where our support staff will make a difference. It isn’t just about the riders.”
Despite all the road racing he has done, Ian says he’s mentally fresh and ready to race. “I’ve had a dead easy week before Lincoln, a couple of split days and I’m itching to get in there and see what the depth is going to be like. While teams have brought riders in from all over the place, it’s about getting them into a crit and seeing if they shine or not. That will be the test and around 8.30pm on Tuesday night, we should have a grounding of where we are going to be…”
In addition to the Series first ever visit to Scotland, there will be first visits to Oxford (Tuesday 22nd May), Redditch (Thursday 24th May) and Torquay (Tuesday 5th June) among the eleven round Series, which climaxes in Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday 14th June, with highlights of every round on ITV4.
Thirteen guest teams will also be joining in the action during the course of this season, bringing local riders for spectators to get behind at each round and providing some of Britain’s up-and-coming teams and riders the chance to experience the action and profile of The Halfords Tour Series.
The final list of guest teams for the Series is as follows:
Kirkcaldy Pedal Power – Endura – Forme Racing and VanillaBikes.com
Durham Sportscover Altura RT and Velo29 – OTR – Vankru
Oxford Team Corley Cycles and Zappi’s Cycling Team
bChampion System – Maxgear – Kyklos and Wheelbase MGD RT
Aberystwyth Team Wallis – CHH and Wheelbase MGD RT
Peterborough Team Corley Cycles and Twenty3c Orbea
Canary Wharf Sportscover Altura RT and Performance Cycles CMI
Torquay Performance Cycles CMI, Primal Europe powered by RuTrainingToday.co.uk and Wilier Live2Ride
Colchester Twenty3c Orbea and Primal Europe powered by RuTrainingToday.co.uk
Woking Twenty3c Orbea and Zappi’s Cycling Team
Stoke-on-Trent Champion System – Maxgear – Kyklos and Velo29 – OTR – Vankru
The Halfords Tour Series is a sister event to The Tour of Britain, the UK’s biggest professional cycle race, which takes place every September. To take on the challenge of riding a Tour of Britain route in a Tour Ride, head to www.tourride.co.uk to find our more and to register for your challenge!
2012 Halfords Tour Series Calendar
Round One Tuesday 15th May Kirkcaldy, Fife
Round Two Thursday 17th May Durham, County Durham
Round Three Tuesday 22nd May Oxford, Oxfordshire
Round Four Thursday 24th May Redditch, Worcestershire
Round Five Friday 25th May Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
Round Six Tuesday 29th May Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
Round Seven Thursday 31st May Canary Wharf, London
Round Eight Tuesday 5th June Torquay, Devon
Round Nine Thursday 7th June Colchester, Essex
Round Ten Tuesday 12th June Woking, Surrey
Grand Final / Round Eleven Thursday 14th June Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
The ten teams competing in this year’s Halfords Tour Series is as follows:
- Cycle Premier – Kovert
- Endura Racing
- Metaltek Scott
- Node4 – Giordana Racing
- Rapha Condor Sharp
- Team Herbalife Leisure Lakes Bikes
- Team Hope Factory Racing
- Team IG – Sigma Sport
- Team Raleigh – GAC
- Team UK Youth