News: First Premier of 2012 is no Joke!

April the 1st sees the first Premier Calendar road race of 2012, the Maldon Dengie Tour.


Larry Hickmott writes … It was the CiCLE Classic that popularised on/off road races in Britain and whilst it is now a UCI ranked event, a similar event, the race formerly known as the Tour of Dengie Marshes, is now the first race in the 2012 Premier Calendar.  This event, first held in 2009 and won by Twenty3C-Orbea rider Andy Lyons, is set to be a hellish race for the competitors and will see for the first time in Britain, all the big teams coming together to battle for the first big win of 2012.

This is my abiding memory of the race in 2011 — a rough section of gravel roads that saw so many punctures. There are more in 2012!

The event is the first ‘Star Trophy’ level race in Essex since the fantastic early season classic, the GP of Essex was lost to the sport in 2001. It is also the first race at this level down south since the Archer GP was cancelled and never revived back in 2007. Some may argue the Twinings Classic is a southern race and so it is but this area near the country’s capital, has not had Premier Calendar events since the Archer GP and Chas Messenger races were lost.

That isn’t to say the area doesn’t have major cycling events because two examples of such events exist in the Jock Wadley and the Wally Gimber; races with history and an aura about them which attracts a  good quality field of riders but not the same depth of quality a Premier does.

That is a big shame because there isn’t a great deal that separates the races except for perhaps the TV coverage that being in the Premier Calendar brings but such coverage on Sky has limited impact for providing teams with publicity unlike TV coverage on channels like ITV4 which is available to a much bigger audience thanks to Freeview. It would be great if these other races also had all the big teams competing in them because with only seven Premier Calendar races, lets face it, that isn’t a lot of racing for fans of the sport to see these teams in action. It’s said the sport is on the up but with only seven Premier Calendar events, that view is debatable.

Appropriate for a rider from Australia where so many roads are gravel, that Aussie Zak Dempster won the 2011 edition. Will he be at the 2012 event for Endura Racing? Watch this space!

Start and Finish in Maldon
The Maldon Dengie Tour, part of a festival of sport in Maldon, will start in the historic Essex town taking in a new course with help from the police with a rolling road closure. The race will be over approximately 100 miles (160 kilometres) taking in the rolling and pan flat roads in the area and will have plenty of off road sections.

The roads, described by local Alan Lawrence from VC Revolution as being good roads to race on which can be tough on a very windy day, may not have the big climbs of the other races in the series but the false flats and exposed sections to the wind will also hurt the legs in a race at this level. Especially if the big teams get their act together and try to break the race like we saw in the Circuit of Ramsey in 2011.

Riders who rode the event as a National A last year will remember the very rough farm tracks and they remain in this year’s race. Riders will depart at 1pm from Maldon and head south east in the direction of Burnham on Crouch (last years start and finish)  to the dengie marshes area for the four loops of a circuit (shape of a ‘9’ apparently) that will take in the rough sections which caused havoc with teams and riders last year.

Rapha were the most organised when it came to spare wheels and it was a Rapha rider in Zak Dempster who ended up winning the race. Zak rides for Endura Racing this year. Any team who goes into the race badly prepared tyre and spares wise, will certainly pay the price if last year is anything to go by. These roads are lethal!

Teamwork by Rapha was what won them the race in 2011. Teams in 2012 are stronger though with more imports from Australia and the battle for the victory is sure to be a lot more intense.

Limited to a field of 100 riders, the race will have nine sections of off road with section names like “bombcrater alley’ and another called the ‘infamous byway’, a mile long section of loose gravel. In the last ten miles of the race, there will be three sections of off road with the last coming around three miles from the finish.

That finish, which will see the riders have over half a mile of straight road after the final roundabout, will be on a closed road and it’s on this in front of hopefully a big crowd, that a group of riders will fight out the finish. Last year in the first Premier Calendar event, we saw a lot of big bunch kicks but with luck also playing a big part in this race, the off road sections are sure to help split the race.

Predications are useless as a puncture at the wrong time for a favourite will see them taken out of the running but the winner will surely come from the best organised team with strength in depth. And the ones with the best tyres as they will be as important as the best legs in this unique Premier Calendar event. More news on the event as we get it.

Organiser Alan Rosner, 29 Abbots Close, Shenfield, Essex, CM15 8LT, 01277 218 392
Entry an be done online with BC or Alan will also accept entries on normal BC entry forms, £30.00.  Closing date Sunday, 11th March 2012.