2011 Stafford Grand Prix

Dean Windsor wins the Stafford Grand Prix after Rapha dominate the race.

Rapha Condor Sharp dominated the Stafford GP today when they attacked two laps out and with only Simon Gaywood for company, the break of four lapped the field and stayed away to the finish where Dean Windsor took the win from Dean Downing. Simon Gaywood won a tight sprint with McCallum for the final podium spot.

The people of Stafford turned out in their thousands to watch some bike racing in the centre of the town on Wednesday night and with the weather being kind, the tables outside the pubs were full and the barriers two or three deep along the finishing straight.

The Youth Race Photo Album

It was the turn of the Youth riders to get the crowd warmed up at 7pm with Chris Lawless winning the Under 16 event in a two up sprint with Luke Hall. Jack Sadler was 3rd while Emily Kay was the winner of the girls race. We’ll bring you results of the Youth race as soon as we get them.

Then, it was then the turn of them Elite men who got plenty of warmup time on the circuit after a ceremonial signing on on the podium truck. There were plenty of star faces missing however, such as round 1 winner Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing) who was having a well earned break and last year’s series winner Ian Wilkinson (also Endura Racing) on holiday as well.

It is that time of the year post nationals when riders take a mid season break to recharge their batteries ahead of the second half of the season but while there were plenty of top riders and top teams missing, there were plenty of others ready to take on the crit stars and pit themselves against the best in Britain.

It has been very noticeable this year that post Halfords Tour Series, there are a lot of tired bike riders and while that series has all the top teams climbing over each other for success, the Elite Circuit Series for many is just an opportunity to race at the highest level especially with the Circuit Race championships coming up in a months time. It certainly doesn’t seem to be the focus for teams and riders like the Halfords Tour Series is although that said, individual events, such as the one in Otley, are hugely successful in their own right.

The Elite Circuit Series Race Album

The event in Stafford, only in its second year, turned out to be a Rapha dominated event with only the quick thinking Simon Gaywood of Corley Cycles managing to prevent a ‘white wash’ by the men in black. No surprise that Gaywood was there either as he was the first winner of the Elite Circuit Series back in 2003 and has a wise head to go with the fast legs. See the series winners over the years here thanks to Jim Hendry MBE

After a fast start to the Elite mens race, the second lap saw the break by Dean Windsor and Dean Downing (both Rapha Condor Sharp) go clear with Gaywood in their wheels and the trio quickly joined by James McCallum, also of Rapha to make four out front.

It was then race over for the rest with still 55 minutes to go! The circuit, tight, flat and packed with tight corners, was not kind for an organised chase and while some top riders tried to bridge, such as Ian Bibby to name but one, the gap proved to be too much with the Rapha trio out front fully committed to staying away and so the race turned into a very fast procession for the leaders.

The chase though never let up, the gap never that big, and the speed of the race saw many riders who hadn’t raced at this level before tailed off and the peloton split into two. The first group managed, just, to stave off being lapped but not the second group who were lapped by the flying Dean Downing who attacked his teammates and Gaywood with around seven laps to go and got a gap very quickly.

The opening up of that gap was helped by the fact that the other two Rapha riders in the chase group got on the brakes to force Gaywood to the front only for Dean Windsor to then hit Gaywood fast from the back and give him no chance of getting his wheel as the Aussie went off in pursuit of his namesake, Dean Downing.

Joining his teammate a lap from the finish, Windsor showed there were no team orders as to who would win and he attacked with half a lap to go, and while Downing came back to him as they came towards the teams pits, Windsor kicked hard out of the final bend only 150 metres or so from the finish to put two lengths into Downing and have time to raise his arms and celebrate the victory.

A few seconds later, Simon Gaywood won a tight sprint against McCallum for the final podium spot.

Post race reactions:
Endura Racing: Read what the team had to say here …

Simon Gaywood (Corley Cycles), 3rd: “It was always going to split early on this circuit where it was so tight round the back and on the first lap, all the Rapha got to the front and I just dived on their wheels. Ed left a little gap and I thought ‘sneaky move’ so I jumped round him and got on the back of the others and as soon as they saw there was a gap, they turned the gas up so I stuck to their back wheels.”

“I looked behind and one of the Motorpoints (Bibby) and another were within five or ten seconds of us for a little bit. Jimmy was the last one to cross to us before that. All I made sure was that I stayed put and didn’t pull at the front because I knew they were going to jump me. I didn’t want to get isolated too far out.”

“The sprint for 3rd with Jimmy was really hard and he’s going well this year. All four of us in that group can sprint and so it was always going to be difficult to be beat the other. Jimmy made it bloody hard for me though and I had to squeeze everything out to get past him. He moved over a little and I cut straight through the middle and it was nice to get on the podium as that is all I was interested in. I would have been gutted if I’d been fourth!”

Dean Windsor (Rapha Condor Sharp) 1st: “It was a tough race and before it, I thought oh no, they have changed the circuit because I really liked last years circuit. This years though was just as tight and technical and suited me down to the ground.”

“I have been looking for a win in these crits and when I made the move two laps into it and I saw Deano and Jimmy with me, I thought the race could be pretty much over for the rest if we commit which we did.”

“Near the end, I wanted to be the one to attack and Deano beat me to it so he got a big gap quick and I thought I have got to go now and luckily I got Simon (Gaywood) to the front and then it was me and Dean (Downing) racing each other. We have raced together so much it was kind of rude to chase him down but I got him with a lap to go and I thought we’re both as knackered as each other, so I thought if I’m the first one to make the move this time I think I might have him.”

“So I made a move down the back and he just got to my wheel and I thought if I kick out of the last corner, I should be able to hold on and it was exciting to get a win in this series. I got one last year and didn’t want to come away without one this year.”

“I think Deano is winning overall and I am second so hopefully we can keep it that way”.

During the final few laps, both Downing and Windsor caught the third group in the race and I asked did that cause problems? “I just caught them at the end of the first straight and so for a few corners, had to slow down and then I kicked round them on the back straight. Then I had Deano to chase and slowly pegged him back corner by corner and once I had him, I wasn’t going to lose another race this year.”

Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Sharp) 2nd: “bloody second again” was Deano’s first reaction after a second place a week before in Otley. “Everyone was really relaxed when we arrived today and that was nice. There were no team orders and we’re all in the team to win races.”

“We had no plan at the beginning but we were all on the front row so we smashed it from the off and got a break going and held it to the end. I think me and Deano (Windsor) attacked together and Si (Simon Gaywood) came with us and Jimmy then came across and once you have three in the break, the others in the team are not going to chase. ”

“If me and Deano had sat in, then you would have had Ed (Clancy) and Briggsy attacking. Deano (Windsor) really did surprise me at the end. I thought I was quite a way in front but its such a tight circuit you can’t always see much. At the end, I just wanted to split it to take no chances on the last corner like I did at Otley.”

“I looked around with a lap to go and was surprised to see Dean on my wheel but I had tried so hard for the solo win that I didn’t have the legs in the sprint.”

“It was a great circuit. It had the long drag down the back plus all the technical corners. “It’s a nice bonus to have the series lead too after two seconds and a few points in the sprints and hopefully that will be my goal for the year to get stuck into the next few”

“It seems the form is building for the Crit champs as well (Beverley at the end of July). I have had great form the last month after really looking after myself during the winter where my weight has gone down and power has gone up.”

More Photos: Marc John also has photos of the event

117 from the Elite race:
20 from the Under 16 race:

1. Dean Windsor, Rapha Condor Sharp
2. Dean Downing, Rapha Condor Sharp @ 1 sec
3. Simon Gaywood, Corley Cycles @28 secs
4. James McCallum, Rapha Condor Sharp st
5. Graham Briggs, Rapha Condor Sharp @49 secs
6. Tom Murray, Sigma Sport Specialized
7. Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp
8. Jonny McEvoy, Motorpoint
9. Jeron Janssen, Raleigh
10. Ian Bibby, Motorpoint

11. James Stewart, UK Youth
12. Will Bjergfelt, Motorpoint
13. Liam Holohan, Raleigh
14. Ed Clancy, Rapha Condor Sharp
15. Richard Hepworth, Cyclepremier/Metaltek
16. James Moss, Endura Racing
17. Dale Appleby, Cycle Premier Metaltek
18. Callam Wilkinson, Endura Racing
19. William Penn, Mammoth
20. Lewis Craven, Herbal life wheelbase

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