Scott Thwaites of Endura Racing led his team to a win at a fast and furious city centre race in historic Oxford watched by a massive crowd.
Report: Peter Hodges (Tour Series)
Thwaites again, as Endura go three from three
Endura Racing made it three from three as The Halfords Tour Series made its first ever visit to Oxford, with thousands of spectators turning out to welcome Britain’s leading televised cycle race Series to the heart of the city on a warm Summer evening.
With first, third and fifth, Endura Racing took a stranglehold on the series and now lead overall by seven points.
Scott Thwaites added victory on the St Giles circuit to his win in the opening round of the 2012 Series seven days previously in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
The double victory for Endura, who took both team and individual prizes, had looked against the odds, as Team UK Youth, under the watchful gaze of Team President and Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell packed the front group with four riders and again placed three in the top ten.
Endura though endeavoured to be in every move around the Oxford group, also putting three riders into the front group of fourteen that escaped midway through the race to contest the honours. With Thwaites placing third and Dean Windsor and Jonny McEvoy following it up with third and fifth respectively the team prize was once again heading to the Scottish team, who now have a seven point lead over defending champions Rapha Condor Sharp.
Bernie Sulzberger of Raleigh-GAC, who was 10th in the race, now leads the Sprints competition by seven points.
With warmth and sunshine finally arriving at the 2012 Halfords Tour Series, the heat and high-speeds around the Oxford course that combined technical slow turns with two long flat our blasts up and down St Giles took their toll on the legs, causing numerous splits from a peloton that was strung out from early on.
Windsor joined Marcel Six in the first meaningful attack of the evening to stick, as the Metaltek Scott rider began his hunt for Boardman Bikes Sprint points, and both were in the eventual group of just over a dozen that went clear.
Numerically Team UK Youth and Endura Racing had the advantage, but with Rapha Condor Sharp’s Ed Clancy seemingly perfectly suited to a course that echoed the Southport drag strip where he won in 2009 it looked like a win could be on the cards for the Team Great Britain rider.
Winner of the Sprints comp on the night was Marcel Six
Instead it was Thwaites and Six who duked it out in the final drag for the line from the last hairpin, with Windsor and Chris Opie in attendance, with the latter initially complaining he had been blocked in the sprint.
Victory though again fell to Thwaites, just edging Six who turned in an impressive evening’s work in both the overall and Boardman Bikes Sprints competition.
“We had three riders [in the leading pack] which was enough,” said Scott Thwaites afterwards. “Sometimes when you have more people expect you to ride harder so we were comfortable with that and kept the pressure on. We wanted to make sure the pack didn’t catch up.
Three races, two wins for Endura Racing’s Scott Thwaites
“Dean and Jonny were riding so hard, I was maybe struggling a bit out of the dead turns, I don’t quite have the zip I had last year but it’s coming. I think I am a lot stronger than I’ve ever been but I am lacking that top two percent. With a sprint like this, quite a long sprint and into a head-wind, my strength came through.”
The win keeps Endura Racing top with maximum points from three rounds, behind the battle for second tightened up with Rapha Condor Sharp, Team Raleigh – GAC, Team UK Youth and Node4 – Giordana Racing all split by just two points with eight rounds still to run.
Scott Thwaites celebrates while Marcel Six looks back to see who is where in the sprint.
In the Boardman Bikes Sprints competition Marcel Six bounced back from a poor showing in Durham to take a clean sweep of all three ‘hot spot’ sprints. “Winning that was important to me and the team” Marcel Six: says ”We had a bad night in Durham, all of us except Dale so we wanted to show ourselves again. It was a very fast race from the off and it split simply because of the intensity of the race. I found myself at the front with Dean Windsor and we worked well together for a good twenty minutes. The sprint was a bit hectic but then that’s normal!”
His win on the night though wasn’t enough though to retake the yellow Boardman Bikes jersey, which instead went to Team Raleigh – GAC’s Bernard Sulzberger, who has a healthy seven point lead.
“It was very tough tonight because of the hairpins. I was a bit worried because Marcel got the first sprint so I had to be up there for the next few. It was very tight, I think I only managed to win it by one point,” said Sulzberger afterwards.
“It’s good to get the jersey for the team. We’ve got Thursday and Friday to come so I am going to try my best and keep the jersey.”
Bell lap and James McCallum attacks!
As he was in Kirkcaldy, Dean Windsor of Endura Racing was in an attacking mode through out the race.
The dead turns and the attacks out of them saw the race split into pieces very quickly.
The riders during the neutralised section of the race.
The crowd was massive!
Marcel Six and Dean Windsor were away on their own for around 20 minutes and the chase saw the race split asunder.
With the crowd growing, the sun shining, the men get their race under way at 7pm on a balmy night in Oxford.
Oxford Versus Cambridge
An impressive ride by Pembroke College student Wojciech Szlachta led Cambridge University to a dominant victory in the first Tour Series varsity cycle race.
Szlachta, who rides for the Twenty3c.co.uk – Orbea squad, took off for a fine solo win, unsurprisingly given his pre-race status as favourite, plus his 2011 BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Road Race title.
Cambridge captain Toby Weatherall led home teammate Edmund Bradbury for a 1-2-3 for the light blues, with Rob Gaunt the top Oxford student in fourth place.
With seven of the top ten placings going to the visitors, there wasn’t to be a fairytale home win on St Giles, though in 12 months’ time the dark blues will be sure to be keen to avenge defeat!
Tour Series Varsity cycle race
Oxford University, 175pts
Cambridge University, 231pts
1. Wojciech Szlachta, Cambridge
2. Toby Weatherall, Cambridge
3. Edmund Bradbury, Cambridge
4. Rob Gaunt, Oxford
5. Charlie Pitt-Ford, Cambridge
6. Sebastien Pancratz, Oxford
7. Christian Preece, Cambridge
8. Will Bowers, Cambridge
9. Alec Watson, Oxford
10. Dan Ahearn, Cambridge
11. Ben Kenneally, Cambridge
12. Adam Baker, Oxford
13. Sean Ledger, Oxford
14. Douglas Brice, Oxford
15. Ben Stauch, Cambridge
16. James Hedgeland, Oxford
@ 1 lap
17. James Dixon, Cambridge
18. Will Graham, Cambridge
19. Oliver Cox, Oxford
20. Andrew Dyson, Oxford
21. Chris Bellamy, Cambridge
@ 2 laps
22. Freddie Peakman, Oxford
23. Alasdair Morrison, Oxford
24. Ben Paske, Oxford
Did not finish
25. Ben Reid, Oxford
26. Ming Chung, Cambridge
Winners were Cambridge
Captains from Cambridge and Oxford with the trophy they were racing for.
THE CIRCUIT BUILD
The Halfords Tour Series, Round Three, Oxford, Provisional Results
1. Scott Thwaites, Endura Racing
2. Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott
3. Dean Windsor, Endura Racing
4. Chris Opie, Team UK Youth
5. Jonny McEvoy, Endura Racing
6. Mike Northey, Node4 – Giordana Racing
7. James McCallum, Rapha Condor Sharp
8. James Stewart, Team UK Youth
9. Niklas Gustavsson, Team UK Youth
10. Bernard Sulzberger, Team Raleigh – GAC
11. Yanto Barker, UK Youth
12. Ed Clancy MB|E, Rapha Condor Sharp
13. Rico Rogers, Node4 – Giordana Racing
14. Ian Bbby, Endura Racing
15. Ian Wilkinson, Endura Racing
16. Graham Briggs, Raleigh GAC
17. Tom Murray, IG Sigma Sport
18. Evan Oliphant, Raleigh GAC
19. Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp
20. Will Bjergfelt, Cycle Premier Kovert
Round Three Team Result
1. Endura Racing
2. Team UK Youth
3. Rapha Condor Sharp
4. Node4 – Giordana Racing
5. Team Raleigh – GAC
6. Metaltek Scott
7. Herbalife LeisureLakesBikes
8. Team IG – Sigma Sport
9. Team Hope Factory Racing
10. Cycle Premier – Kover
Overall Team Standings, post-Round Three
1. Endura Racing, 30pts
2. Rapha Condor Sharp, 23pts
3. Team UK Youth, 22pts
4. Team Raleigh – GAC, 22pts
5. Node4 – Giordana Racing 21pts
6. Team IG – Sigma Sport, 12pts
7. Cycle Premier – Kovert, 11pts
8. Metaltek Scott, 11pts
9. Team Hope Factory Racing, 7pts
10. Herbalife LeisureLakesBikes, 10pts
Boardman Bikes Sprints winner Oxford: Marcel Six (Metaltek Scott)
Boardman Bikes Sprints standings, post-Round Three
1. Bernard Sulzberger, Team Raleigh – GAC, 32pts
2. Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott, 25pts
3. Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp, 21pts
PHOTOS – SUPPORT EVENTS