2011 British Circuit Race Championships

Rapha Condor Sharp continued their dominance of the circuit race scene after Graham Briggs and Dean Downing combined perfectly to shut out Endura Racing’s Ian Wilkinson in the British Circuit Race Championships in Beverley.

Report -Gold for Graham Briggs the perfect wedding present …

Graham Briggs wins the championship as Tom Murray challenges Ian Wilkinson with Marcel Six also in the battle behind Briggs. Notice a very pleased Russell Downing behind the barriers!

The championship, in front of a record crowd in Beverley, finished off a night of fast and furious racing which began with Jack Pullar of Vanilla Bikes winning the opening time trial from Adam Duggleby. Both riders finished with a 1.35 but the verdict was given to Jack who was a few tenths quicker than Adam. Scott Thwaites of Endura Racing was third.

The support race was then held and abandoned only five laps from the finish after a crash saw one of the riders taken away in an ambulance which was cruel luck for him and also for one of the riders who had been leading alone with only a few laps left to go.

With the light fading after the delay, the championship race was shortened by ten minutes and the riders were soon on the start line for a rolling start. Favourites were Rapha who have dominated the podiums all year in the circuit races but it was Endura Racing who knew this was a make or break event for them and they took up the pace straight away with former champion Rob Hayles leading his team around.

The Photo Album — TT race, Support race and Elite Championship


The support race is abandoned because of a crash.


Endura and Sigma Sport were both applying the pressure because as Tom Murray admitted afterwards, no-one wanted to take Ed Clancy to the finish for a bunch kick. With the peloton lined out as the hammer went down from the off, small splits off the front soon started to appear and shortly after six riders went clear as Matt Jones of Raleigh lead through a very handy looking group.

In there was last years Silver medallist Ian Wilkinson, Graham Briggs fresh back from a honeymoon at the Tour de France, Will Bjergfelt (Motorpoint), Tom Murray (Sigma Sport Specialized), Marcel Six of Twenty3C-Orbea and Jones.

A few chases came and went, Ian Bibby of Motorpoint being one as was Tobyn Horton of the same team, but it was the full on chase by Dean Downing of Rapha Condor Sharp that proved to be the key moment in the race. With his brother and former champion Russell Downing watching with his girlfriend from the start/finish line, Dean crossed the gap very quickly and was pretty gassed by the time he got on the back of the six up group.

The start of the championship …

It was race over for the rest now as Rapha committed to the break as did the other five and they stretched their lead to 45 seconds or so before the finish neared and there was some cat and mouse creeping in. The bunch was also in full flight by now with Wheelbase and Cycle Premier among the teams lining out the peloton in chasing the break down.

In the end it was Rapha, whose manager John Herety put the other teams on the back foot by ordering his riders to chase down the break in the closing laps, that had all the cards to play. He had the firepower to win either way and while the lead of the break tumbled in the closing laps, Dean Downing attacked alone with three to go. It took Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing) a lap to close him down and then Tom Murray went with a lap to go.
He came back and Downing went again over the top with half a lap and it was Wilkinson again making an effort to not to give him an inch.

Whilst Dean Downing sat up to roll in down the classification, Graham Briggs took on Wilkinson in front of the huge crowd in near darkness and the rest in the sprint and down the inside of the barriers, he sprinted for all he was worth to win the title much to the delight of his wife Sam and team.

Kristian House has a go at getting away early on.

After the race on the podium and still soaked in champagne, Graham, who I’d seen on the Rotherham chaingang on Tuesday with Downing and Ben Swift among others said “I can’t believe it. I could not believe it when I pulled the jersey on up there. It was a really Elite group there and I just can’t believe it.”

“Tom went with a lap to go and Dean went over the top and that really strung the others out and I managed to get a good wheel to the finish and knew I just had to finish the job off which feels great.”

“I think having had a few days off for the honeymoon has freshened the legs up. I didn’t feel great from the start but came round as it went on and when Dean came across, that gave me the confidence we had the numbers there. We have had the numbers up the front all year so it was a great result for the team.”

“The team strategy was to get in the breaks and not waste too much energy and if it came down to bunch sprint, we had the fastest guy in the country in Ed Clancy and we’d have been leading him out. It’s good to keep the jersey in the team.”

Matt Jones leads Graham Briggs and the winning break as it go clears of the peloton.

“With the Halfords Tour Series and Elite Series being televised, it’s great for myself and the team to have the jersey. I have only one crit left this year though so I hope I can get up there in Preston!”

A gutted Ian Wilkinson said all week he’d been dreaming of winning the stripes (the champion’s jersey with red and blue bands.) “It was a great finish with Dean going down the back straight on the last lap, I closed it down again because you can’t give him an inch and I went at the right time but Briggsy (Graham Briggs) was faster than me so fair play to him and congratulations.” Read more of Ian’s reactions here …

Tom Murray (Bronze): “I thought I was going to win the bronze last year but we got caught on the last lap but I have been a nervous wreck all week as I really wanted to be up there tonight. I have been up there behind the Rapha riders this year in every crit and so I really wanted that.”

“As a team we sat down at the start and we said we have to go out there and be really active. As a team, we’re all fast but we’re not bunch sprinters so we had to go out there and make the race. Early on, we were in every move and it could have been anyone of us but the one that stuck was the one I was in. From there, it was up to us because if we had got caught, Rapha were going to win the bunch sprint.”

“So it was up to us all to ride and hope you can stay away. I was surprised when Dean came across and it changed the dynamic a little bit and instead of pressing on, everyone’s thinking do we ride with two Rapha in there. I decided to press on.”

Secret hand signals from Graham Briggs perhaps?

“I was hoping to sneak away in the last few laps but I think everyone was thinking the same. Coming over the line with a lap to go, I thought I might be able to sneak away and that would be my best chance of winning it. I was pretty confident, I’d get a place on the podium in the sprint but you get that close, you always want to win the stripes so I gave it a bit of a go.”

John Herety (Manager Rapha Condor Sharp): “Really pleased for Graham and that also proves what a great team player Dean Downing is. He sacrificed his own chances of winning that championship for a member of his team to win.”

“Dean is a winner in his own right and we had two good sprinters at the front and I was really pleased with that. I was nervous towards the end that the break was getting complacent and some of the riders were beginning to think about having an easy ride.”

“That is why I brought all my guys to the front of the peloton and they rode. They didn’t know why but did it which was good and the fact the gap was coming down so quickly, that caused a little bit of chaos with the other managers in the pits and the messages they were giving to their riders in the break. That caused a bit of disarray so the numerical advantage would come to us and it worked out perfect.”

The big threat was Wilko so when Dean went Wilko was always going to chase him down and I was pretty sure Tom Murray would go after that so that isolated the other guys in the break a bit and the win could not have happened to a nicer guy. We all know his beaming smile and it’s a late wedding presentment for him.”

Ian Wilkinson, Graham Briggs and Tom Murray.

Tom Murray on the attack with a lap to go

1 lap TT and Jack Pullar, first man off, goes and wins it!

The lone breakaway that was all set to win the support race only for it to be abandoned because of a crash.

Dean Downing chases the break down and was the only rider to get across to it.

RESULTS (thanks to John Pearson and his wife… and the judges too of course)
1. Graham Briggs, Rapha Condor Sharp
2. Ian Wilkinson, Endura Racing
3. Tom Murray, Sigma Sport Specialized
4. Marcel Six, Twenty3C Orbea
5. Will Bergfelt, Motorpoint, @ 2 secs
6. Matt Jones, Raleigh, @ 5 secs
7. Ed Clancy, Rapha Condor Sharp (bunch sprint) @ 6 secs
8. Scott Thwaites, Endura Racing
9. Jonny McEvoy, Motorpoint
10. Stephan Adams, Sigma Sport Specialized
11. Tobyn Horton, Motorpoint
12. Pete Williams, Motorpoint
13. Jason White, Cycle Premier Metaltek
14. Steven Burke, UK Youth
15. Adam Duggleby, SiS
16. Russell Hampton, Sigma Sport Specialzied
17. Simon Gaywood, Corley Cycles
18. Jake Hales, Corley Cycles
19. Tom Barras, Cycle Premier Metaltek @ 10 secs
20. Simon Wilson, Cycle Premier Metaltek
21. Dean Shannon Twenty3c-Orbea
22. Dale Appleby Cyclepremier.com – Metaltek
23. James Stewart Team UK Youth
24. Tom Last Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
25. Richard Hepworth CyclePremier.com – Metaltek @ 11s
26. Stuart Reid Herbalife/Wheelbase.co.uk
27. Simon Richardson Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
28. Steve Lampier Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team @ 14s
29. Gary Adamson Science In Sport.com @ 15s
30. David Clarke Endura Racing @ 16s
31. Robert Hayles Endura Racing
32. Andrew Hawdon Herbalife/Wheelbase.co.uk
33. James McCallum Rapha Condor Sharp
34. James Sampson Motorpoint @ 17s
35. Dean Downing Rapha Condor Sharp
36. Evan Oliphant, Endura Racing
37. Michael Smith, Corley Cycles
38. Duncan Moralee, Sportsover
39. Kit Gilham, Sigma Sport Specialized
40. Alistair Rutherford, Science in Sport
41. David McGowan, UK Youth
42. Daniel Duiguid, Science in Sport
43. Lewis Cravin, Herballife Wheelbase
44. Den Green Rapha Condor Sharp
45. Jack Cutsforth, Herbalife Wheelbase
46. Thomas Moses, 100% ME
47. David Shackleton, Wilsons WHeels
48. Jon Tieran Locke Rapha Condor Sharp
49. Robert Smail, Cycle Premier Metaltek
50. Matt Kipling Raleigh
51. Jack Pullar, Vanilla Bikes
52. Richard Handley, Raleigh
53. James Moss, Endura Racing
54. Stephen Gallacher, Cyclepremier Metaltek
55. Tom Bustard, Sportscover
56. Ian Bibby, Motorpoint

LINK: PREVIEWS | Ian Wilkinson Interview | Ed Clancy Interview |

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