TalkTime: Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing)

VeloUK talks to Endura Racing’s Ian Wilkinson who was the Silver medallist in the 2010 British Circuit Race Championships ahead of this Fridays circuit race championships in Beverley

RELATED LINK: Interview with Ed Clancy, Defending Circuit Race Champion
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Not a moment Ian likes to recall, the finish of the 2010 Crit Champs in Beverely with Ed Clancy in the saddle sprinting, Ian out of the saddle and here, a little ahead but in a photo finish, Clancy won the title. On the left is James McCallum, Ian’s teammate that year in Endura Racing, who has just been caught metres from the line. The crowd shows why the champs are in Beverely yet again!

This Friday night, one of the favourites for the champion’s jersey in Beverley will be Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing) who has medalled twice previously; third behind Mark Cavendish in 2005 and then five years later, a Silver medal behind one of Cav’s former GB Academy teammates, Ed Clancy. The race is one of his and his team’s big goals and while Rapha have nine riders on the start sheet, Endura Racing have eight with Rapha having the edge with strength in numbers when it comes to the fastest crit riders. We have seen in the last two races how strong the men in black are as they have dominated the podiums and with the likes of Ed Clancy (defending champion) being a rider, who on his day, is very hard to beat, and the riders around him as good, if not better than their rivals, they will be the favourites.

We have seen in 2011 that Rapha’s strength in-depth can leave other teams exposed but anything can happen in a bike race as we saw last year when a break with a lap to go, looked like they had it sewn up only for a crash to disrupt their progress and the race to come together in the last 25 metres. Other things like a riders gears failing and so on mean that predicating a winner or even how the end of the race will pan out is near impossible. Endura Racing meanwhile have three riders who are capable of winning, Ian Wilkinson, Rob Hayles and young Scott Thwaites backed up by some very strong ‘rouleur’ type riders (Rob Partridge, Dave Clarke, Evan Oliphant etc) who like Kristian House last year, could surprise and get in a break or, be there to keep the race together like they did at Colne recently.

Home town boy …. Ian Wilkinson at home Lancashire, goes it alone in the recent Colne Grand Prix.

Ian Wilkinson admits the championship, being slightly longer, 70 minutes plus five laps as against an hour plus five, can pan out differently to a normal crit race and uses last year as an example when a break of non-favourites got away. Looking at the line-up for the race, Ian says it’s quite even between themselves and Rapha and that in a race like that, you can’t discount the likes of Ian Bibby and Jonny McEvoy who know how to race the event and others like Simon Gaywood who will be there or thereabouts in the finish.

“It’s a championship race and there will be all sorts of riders who, if they get it right on the night, whether they are full time riders or not, will stand a chance of winning. I know myself for an hour crit  you can compete whether you are a working or not.”

Looking at the tried and tested circuit in Beverley, Ian explained that is a bit of a mix between technical and flowing. “It’s technical in that it doesn’t really go in a straight line , you are constantly snaking around, lots of corners and there are the cobbles too, but it is a flowing circuit as well and you can ride it from a few places back and keep sliding. It’s not like a Stafford where you couldn’t really have the crit nationals!”

On the way to victory — Ian ‘superman’ Wilkinson powers his way to the break from which he won the Woking round of the Tour Series.

The circuit in Beverley has a mix of really ‘proper’ cobbles where the bikes bounce round so much that anyone with a dodgy bottle cage will soon find their bidon flying out in amongst  the wheels (always a danger) and man made smoother paving. Because of this, Ian explained that tyre pressures in his Continental tubulars will be a little less than normal and that because the sprint for the line is on the cobbles, it will suit some riders better than others.

“You have to try to be light on the cobbles and it suits that seated finished because you bounce around less and that type of sprinting is something that Ed seems to have perfected. Haylesy (Rob Hayles) too is the same and a master of the acceleration in the saddle while we’re trying to get the power out.”

Clancy and Hayles both have that ability of course because of their track background where such drills in GB training are common place for endurance and sprint athletes where as Ian Wilkinson comes from a mountain bike background where he is used to riding on the limit for long periods and a look at the finish of last years race (see top picture) shows there is nothing between Clancy or Wilkinson in reality. A split second decision here or there is more likely to be the difference and with so many contenders such as former champions like Dean Downing the race promises to be a real thriller.

In the lead up to the championships, the build ups for Clancy and Wilkinson have been quite different. Clancy took a break in June and as we saw in Colne, is now coming into a rich vein of form again whereas Ian Wilkinson has been building up his form after a crash in March (broken collarbone) and with wins in the Halfords Tour Series and strong performances in some other cits, he is there or thereabouts with his form. A stage race in the Czech Republic recently may also have just given him the strength he needs to race flat out for 80 minutes or so.

Warmup last year was a warmup in the TT race before the main event — which he won… notice the special aero helmet…

He spent last week training hard ready to back off this week saying “I made my legs hurt last week and had quite a heavy week”. “I did a few long rides, a few sprint sessions, a few turbo sessions and a bit of work on the rollers as well as racing at Preston (Thursday night). I had a few good rides at the weekend and then I’ve backed off. Local chain gang on Saturday and then a CNDW race on Sunday (he was 5th).”

Ian says that the races prior to the championships are training races where he’ll do a few hours before and be a bit more attacking and less calculating. “These smaller races can be harder because you get a bit more marked out and have to race a bit different. In a race like the CDNW, you might have to let some riders go and then gauge the gap before jumping hard to get across on your own otherwise you end up with everyman and your dog on your wheel. This week, I’m tapering so I’ll probably do Preston Arena as a last hit out and get some speed in the legs.”

Speaking of speed, unlike Simon Gaywood who VeloUK interviewed recently,  who tends to do a lot of motorpaced work behind the team car, Ian explained that in the absence of that, he uses the rollers to get some leg speed which he knows he’ll need for a race where riders will need to be spinning the legs for various reasons, one so as to save them for the sprint and not fatigue them using too big a gear; and two to keep the speed in and out of the bends. Ian also said that on the night, he’ll be wearing one of Endura’s prototype skin suits. They are, he says, just as slippery as the ones used on the track by the country’s national team riders and that every little bit helps when the difference between winning and being first loser can be millimetres.

Back in the day — 2005 – Mark Cavendish in the champion’s jersey with Ian Wilkinson (left) and Russell Downing (right).

Road Racing …
The crits though are not the be all and end all for Ian. He has eye on the road scene in Europe and getting a spot in the Tour of Britain team is a big aim and he was very keen to be part of the Endura Racing team in the Czech Cycling Tour recently.  “After all the crit racing, it was time to become a road racer even though I have the crit champs which are very important. Doing a stage race gives me the strength training that I missed out at the start of the year with my crash and broken collarbone”.

“I really want to do the Tour of Britain. I don’t think there is a rider in the team who, on his day, doesn’t warrant a place in the team for the Tour of Britain. It is certainly not a case of anyone will do it and it will help the team be stronger as everyone in the team is fighting to be part of the team for the race.”

Looking further ahead, Ian is also looking to be more involved in the European side of Endura Racing’s event programme.   “Absolutely. I don’t think it is any secret that I am employed to race crits, predominantly the Halfords Tour Series which is a big goal for myself because that is what I am good at and paid for. There are though bigger goals of winning road races.  There were no victories for Ian in the Czech Republic as he promptly got a kicking from his teammates after having had a mid season break the week before. With a teammate in yellow though, there was no time to sit in the wheels and recover and Ian says that he and teammate Evan Oliphant must have spent three quarters of stages three and four in the wind.

“We pulled some real long turns and that was good. It was a pleasure to ride for the other guys and took the pressure off.”

In his blog,, Ian explains how on the stage after the Team Time Trial where Endura Racing were the victors, it was down to him, Evan and Alex Blain to try and contain a break of nine riders but it ended in disaster as Alex Blain crashed into the barriers trying to win the stage. The Frenchman managed to escape okay but tougher days were ahead for the riders.  “Stage 3 was the queen stage and a horrible opening with 30km mostly up hill and little roads that saw me out the back and in the cars” Ian says. “Thankfully, the bunch sat up after the first time bonus sprint at 27km and a small group had gone away by the time I got back into the peloton.”

Ian leads Alex Blain and Evan Oliphant in the Czech Cycling Tour.

Ian went from chasing to get back on to sitting on the front with Evan Oliphant. The course was far different to the normal diet of short circuit race courses in town centres around Britain and Ian says that day saw them racing up and down lots of 5-8km climbs. “I was really feeling the hills but after topping out the highest climb at 1000 metres, there was a long awesome downhill into long valley roads where there was some real nice scenery if you could take the time to enjoy it.” Ian then had to play the role of teammate as Paul Voss punctured and Ian stopped to give him his wheel. “That kinda called it a day for me as the legs were shot, but the break was now in sight a minute away and down from five minutes.”

But stage races have their dangers like time limits and for Ian, and teammate Evan Oliphant, they had to press on over the final four climbs to make sure they made the time cut. “Turned out there was no gruppetto so we rode in alone. A good job we pressed on too as all those behind us got eliminated on time! A truly hard day pushing the wind the whole way.”

The final stage for Ian was supposed to be easy and so the crash on the second to last descent was not in the schedule. “My bottle jumped out and got trapped behind my leg and into the back wheel ripping out every single spoke thus collapsing the wheel and sending me into the ditch and over the bars. Argh! Lucky I landed on my left side and away from my collar bone so no harm done. Just a few scrapes and a gash on my shin. A new wheel and a few water bottles later, I was back in the bunch onto flatter roads towards the three finishing laps. In the last 10km, Endura Racing were lined out on the front pulling for the finish and fair play to Blain who won the bunch kick second.”

Tester … (no, no, not that kind!)
Ian’s job with Endura Racing though doesn’t finish with what he does on the bike. He is also asked to test the clothing of his sponsors Endura Racing and explains that every pair of shorts, skinsuit and jerseys have a number and a name. “Every day we ride in a piece of kit as we need to give Endura feedback so  it is like a blind test as every piece of kit is slightly different, whether it’s the fabric or the cut. By the time they have all the feedback from the team, they have a good benchmark for what is working for the riders. Endura are keen to tap into the European market which is massive so the road range is very important to get right and they are.”

Lincoln Grand Prix and it’s like Christmas for the Endura riders as they get new kit to test and wear in races. Rob Partridge is clearly pleased!

The Endura Racing riders are dressed from head to toe in their sponsors clothing with Endura supplying socks, leg warmers, knee warmers, shorts,  tights, under vests, short and long sleeved jerseys, rain jackets, caps, gloves and glasses. “It is all superb stuff” Ian says. “When you start to ride for a company like this you start to see who’s wearing it and it’s really popular. The quality you get for your money is why it’s popular as it really does a good job.”
“We started the season with four jerseys and shorts and they are all slightly different and then as you go through the year, they’ll give you more kit which is slightly different. For example, some of the riders have different grippers on the legs and different chamois and every time you get new kit, its like Christmas again!”

The Endura kit also takes into account the time of year with subtle differences to cope with different weather conditions. “This year we have some really lightweight track mitts with no Velcro and they work really well in the warm weather and in the autumn we had some medium weight gloves which we were quite long in the wrist. Then there are some slightly thicker long sleeve jerseys and some lyrca ones so a bit of everything for any type of weather.” They even get Endura leisure wear to make sure they are comfortable going to and from races.

Ian’s  programme now includes the Crit champs this Friday and then a mixture of some pro road races in Europe such as Paris Corrèze and British events like the Preston Grand Prix. Other races are the Dutch Food Valley Classic, GP Stad Zottegem, Druivenkoers – Overijse, Twinings Pro-Am Classic, and Richmond Grand Prix. Then its one of two stage races depending on the selections for the Tour of Britain where Ian is hoping his sprint will see him included in the Endura Racing line up. For now though, there is a title to chase and next Friday, VeloUK will be there to see how Ian and the rest of the riders who have entered get on.

1 Edward Clancy Rapha Condor Sharp
2 Graham Briggs Rapha Condor Sharp
3 Dean Downing Rapha Condor Sharp
4 Ben Greenwood Rapha Condor Sharp
5 Kristian House Rapha Condor Sharp
6 James McCallum Rapha Condor Sharp
7 Tom Southam Rapha Condor Sharp
8 Andrew Tennant Rapha Condor Sharp
9 Jonathan Tiernan-Locke Rapha Condor Sharp
10 Thomas Moses 100% ME
11 Dale Appleby – Metaltek
12 Tom Barras – Metaltek
13 Stephen Gallagher – Metaltek
14 Anthony Gibb – Metaltek
15 Richard Hepworth – Metaltek
16 Robert Smail – Metaltek
17 Jason White – Metaltek
18 Simon Wilson – Metaltek
19 David Clarke Endura Racing
20 Robert Hayles Endura Racing
21 James Moss Endura Racing
22 Evan Oliphant Endura Racing
23 Robert Partridge Endura Racing
24 Scott Thwaites Endura Racing
25 Callum Wilkinson Endura Racing
26 Ian Wilkinson Endura Racing
27 David Lines Endura/Pedalpower Development Team
28 Lewis Craven Herbalife/
29 Jack Cutsforth Herbalife/
30 Andrew  Hawdon Herbalife/
31 Alastair Kay Herbalife/
32 Stuart  Reid Herbalife/
33 Will Berjgfelt Motorpoint
34 Ian Bibby Motorpoint
35 Malcolm Elliott Motorpoint
36 Tobyn  Horton Motorpoint
37 Johnny McEvoy Motorpoint
38 James  Sampson Motorpoint
39 Pete Williams Motorpoint
40 Robert Watson RVO Racing
41 Gary Adamson Science In
42 Adam Duggleby Science In
43 Alistair Rutherford Science In
44 Stephen Adams Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
45 Thomas Copeland Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
46 Daniel Duguid Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
47 Kit Gilham Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
48 Russell Hampton Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
49 Steve Lampier Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
50 Tom Last Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
51 Tom Murray Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
52 Simon Richardson Sigma Sport Specialized Cycling Team
53 Tom Bustard Sportscover Strategic
54 Kevin Dawson Sportscover Strategic
55 Collin Humphrey Sportscover Strategic
56 Duncan Moralee Sportscover Strategic
57 John Tanner Sportscover Strategic
58 Christopher Daddy Star Bikes RT
59 Simon Gaywood Team Corley Cycles/Cervelo/Alpha R.C
60 Jake Hales Team Corley Cycles/Cervelo/Alpha R.C
61 Matthew Higgins Team Corley Cycles/Cervelo/Alpha R.C
62 James Millard Team Corley Cycles/Cervelo/Alpha R.C
63 Jamie Newall Team Corley Cycles/Cervelo/Alpha R.C
64 Michael Smith Team Corley Cycles/Cervelo/Alpha R.C
65 Matt Cronshaw Team Raleigh
66 Matt Gee Team Raleigh
67 Richard Handley Team Raleigh
68 Liam Holohan Team Raleigh
69 matt jones Team Raleigh
70 Matt Kipling Team Raleigh
71 Steven  Burke Team UK Youth
72 Gruff Lewis Team UK Youth
73 James Lowsley-Williams Team UK Youth
74 David  McGowan Team UK Youth
75 James Stewart Team UK Youth
76 Ben Simmons Team Wiggle
77 Dean Shannon Twenty3c-Orbea
78 Jack Pullar
79 David Shackleton Wilsons Wheels Race Team

(thanks to Jim Hendry)

2010 Beverley- 70 mins + 5 laps
1. Ed Clancy, Motorpoint Marshals Pasta
2. Ian Wilkinson, Endura Racing
3. Jonny McEvoy, Motorpoint Marshals Pasta
4. Marcel Six, Obea For Goodness Shakes
5. James McCallum, Endura Racing
6. Peter Williams, Motorpoint Marshals Pasta
7. Simon Holt, UC Bergamasca
8. Matt Kipling, MTS Cyclesport
9. David Lines, Endura Racing
10. Matt Cronshaw, Rapha Condor Sharp

2009 Beverley- 70 mins + 5 laps
1. Russell Downing, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
2. Jeremy Hunt, Cervelo Test Team
3. Rob Hayles, Halfords Bikehut
4. Dean Downing, Rapha Condor
5. Malcolm Elliott, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
6. Jon Mozley,
7. Ian Wilkinson, Halfords Bikehut
8. Graham Briggs, CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta
9. Tom Barras, unattached
10. Simon Gaywood, Corley Cycles

2008 Beverley- 70 mins + 5 laps
1. Dean Downing, 2. Rob Hayles, 3. Tony Gibb

2007 Otley – 1 hour
1. James McCallum, 2. Ed Clancy, 3. Matt Cronshaw

2006 Horwich. – 64 km
1. James Taylor, 2. Tony Gibb, 3. Adam Blythe

2005 Otley, West Yorks -  47 km
1. Mark Cavendish, 2. Russell Downing 3. Ian Wilkinson

2004 Hillingdon 80 km
1. Colin Roshier, 2. Greg Sandy 3. Rob Enslin

2003 Llandudno – 51 km
1. Russell Downing, 2. Dean Downing 3. Bryan Taylor

2002 Newport, Wales  -  60 km
1. Dean Downing, 2. Mark Kelly, 3. Neil Swithenbank

2001 Newark
1. Chris Newton, 2. Dean Downing 3. Bryan Steel

2000 Birmingham – 62.4 km
1. Rob Hayles, 2. John Tanner, 3. Anthony Malarczyk

1999 Bury St Edmunds – 60.6km
1. Chris Walker, 2. Rob Reynolds-Jones 3. Chris Lillywhite

1998: Haverhill – 72 km
1. Chris Walker, 2. Chris Williams 3. Dan Smith

1997 Bury St Edmunds – 72 km
1. Simon Cope, 2. Joe Bayfield 3. Mark McKay

1996 Bury St. Edmunds – 73.3 km
1. John Tanner, 2. Mark Walsham 3. Jon Clay

Professional Criterium Manchester
1. Jon Clay, 2. Mark Walsham 3. Chris Lillywhite

Amateur Criterium – Bury St. Edmunds – 75.4 km
1. Sam Quinn, 2. Roger Hammond 3. Jimmy Jones

Professional Criterium Milford Haven – 58 km
1. Neil Hoban 2. Dave Rayner 3. Bernie Burns

Amateur Criterium Gorleston – 70 km
1. Dave Williams 2. John Charlesworth 3. Matt Stephens

Professional Criterium Crystal Palace – 66 km
1. Chris Lillywhite 2. Spencer Wingrave 3. Simon Cope

Amateur Criterium  Wigan – 70 km
1. Roger Hammond, 2. Jeremy Hunt 3. Mark McKay

Professional Criterium Cardiff – 100 km
1. Neil Hoban, 2. Dave Baker 3. Keith Reynolds

Professional Criterium Cardiff – 80 km
1. Rob Holden 2. Hilton McMurdo 3. Mark Walsham

Professional Criterium Worksop
1. Rob Holden 2. Hilton McMurdo 3. Adrian Timmis

Professional Criterium Cardiff – 90 km
1. Paul Curran 2. Mark Walsham 3. Chris Lillywhite

Professional Criterium Leek – 100 km
1. Mark Walsham 2. Jon Walshaw 3. Nick Barnes

Professional Criterium Crystal Palace 100 km
1. Tim Harris 2. Chris Lillywhite 3. Mark Walsham

Professional Criterium Leek – 84 km
1. Paul Sherwen 2. Steve Joughin 3. Phil Thomas

Professional Criterium Hull – 80 km
1. Dave Miller 2. Malcolm Elliott 3. Steve Fleetwood

Professional Criterium NEC, Birmingham – 90 km
1. Malcolm Elliott 2. Bill Nickson 3. Keith Lambert

Professional Criterium Stockton on Tees – 81 km
1. Keith Lambert 2. Dudley Hayton 3. Steve Jones

Professional Criterium Newport, Gwent – 80 km
1. Phil Bayton 2. Phil Corley 3. Bill Nickson

Not Held

Professional Criterium Telford – 90km
1. Bill Nickson 2. Sid Barras 3. Barry Hoban

1979 (first running of crit champs)
Professional Criterium Milton Keynes – 90 km
1. Sid Barras 2. Ian Banbury 3. Jack Kershaw

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