Blog: The Crowd & Crew take centre stage in Oxford

Larry looks back at the Halfords Tour Series visiting Oxford and two of the highlights plus photo albums from all the action  ….

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It’s 7.22am, almost 24 hours to the minute that I arrived in Oxford for the Halfords Tour Series. Time to reflect on an awesome round of the Halfords Tour Series in Oxford. I’m parked up on the A34 in the middle of an area I know well. Having lived up the road in Warwickshire, I’ve had the pleasure of tourist trips to Oxford before but Tuesday night in one of the most famous of British cities was a real eye opener.

Where it all begins with trucks full of barriers to line a few kilometres of a circuit in Oxford.

The crowd was the biggest surprise. The circuit of 1.1 kilometre was lined with people and considering this was the first time the series had been there, the large crowd was a big plus. My day had began at 7ish to watch the crew build the circuit, dodging fast moving cyclists in the process. I’ve never seen a place with so many cyclists but then the weather was perfect for it.


As the circuit was built on the edge of the city centre’s pedestrianized area, cyclists cruised through the groups of crew lining the road with barriers which very quickly gave us the outline of what the circuit would look like. With temperatures rising as quick as the barriers, the hope was the crowd would turn out to support this new event.

The build-up to the main races started at lunch time with some youth events and then the much awaited Cambridge versus Oxford event which Cambridge dominated. Then it was time for the Women’s race, the first in the Johnson Health Tech GP series. The big field, on a Tuesday afternoon, shows how much the women’s sport has grown and it was great to see the rainbow stripes in there on the back of Lucy Garner.

She didn’t win but Lucy did the jersey proud for sure. But proud doesn’t even begin to describe the bond between the girls in the Matrix Fitness-Prendas team. When Annie Simpson joined her teammates after dominating the podium, there was this almighty team hug! The crowd by now was growing in number and it continued to do so as the men went into battle at 7pm.


At Durham, Endura Racing had ‘suffered’ their first defeat on British soil this year in a race targeted by the team. They had, in Durham, won the team award and that is the main aim, but it had been the first time they had not been first across the line with that going to Kristian House. Second though was a rider who is making a big name for himself, Scott Thwaites.

He’s only 22, been around for ages but in the last two years has really become a star name in road racing. His director sportif Julian Winn says he has this ability to turn himself inside out to win a bike race and Oxford was an example of that. He suffered on this tight and technical circuit with its four dead turns and long straights which was so different to Kirkcaldy which Scott won and also Durham where Scott was second. Three rounds, two wins and a second. That is special!

But win he did in Oxford and it shows just how versatile he is. He can win road races and crits like this with equal aplomb and he should for sure be racing more on a big stage in 2013, whether that’s with Endura Racing or a World Tour team. His victory was a fitting end to a great night out in Oxford.


I was surprised that that the ‘crit’ riders had not come out and given Endura Racing a run for their money. At least one has been ill and seemed to suffer for it because a crit this hard is no place to try and find your legs. The bottom line seems to be that Endura Racing have the riders to win on all types of circuits and they have plenty of others in the team to come in if required. Scary.

At least for the teams wanting to prevent them winning the series.

Again though, like in Kirkcaldy, UK Youth had numbers in that lead group that even Endura Racing didn’t have and surely they are on the edge of a breakthrough. UK Youth had Nigel Mansell watching from the pits, arm in a sling and with his son Greg racing, his team didn’t let him down with second in the Team standings on the night. They deserve a win for a sure and that may well come in the next eight rounds left. That’s the same number as the whole series last year!

The Building of a Tour Series Circuit

As the crowd dispersed, the work began. For me and so many others, the night was young! The crew had a practice run at getting the circuit clear and the trucks loaded ready for it to head to Redditch and the next round. After that round, the fourth, the circuit then has to be taken to Wales for the next day and they really will be working over time to achieve that.

So while the riders will get the adulation of the big crowd, it’s the crew who deserve a lot of credit for taking a blank canvas and creating the recipe for a crowd pleasing circuit race in a city centre some where in Britain. One where the crowds are attracted to an entertaining nights racing of the highest order. I’m toild Redditch will be like Durham with out the cobbles!

Between rounds of the Halfords Tour Series though, it’s time to catch up with work for the website. I think I’ll find a nice park to put the van in and enjoy this summer that has finally arrived… and maybe an ice cream too because for me that was the one thing missing from a memorable hot summery day in Oxford on Tuesday …

The Report – click here

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