Feature: 2012 Halfords Tour Series the Best Yet

After the best ever Halfords Tour Series & Johnson GP Series, we look back with lots of interesting stats (who was the best male rider) and links to the reports for both the men’s and women’s series. In other words, its packed with info!

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After five, or is it six, weeks on the road, the Halfords Tour Series & Johnson GP Series is finally over. Cue boos and hisses with the disappointment. There is no doubt it has been the best yet with eleven rounds of the men’s series and five for the women all fought for with aggression and the ‘need’ to succeed. Laura Massey celebrating a second place in Stoke shows the thrill riders get when they ‘do good’ in the premier circuit race series in Britain; the World even!

Three cheers for the Halfords Tour Series! May it return bigger and better in 2013

Comments on Twitter from riders not only sad it’s finished for another year but also the buzz they got from competing in front of the TV cameras and big crowds, is an indication what it means to them. Perhaps more a ‘buzz’ for the women than the men however. For the latter, there is immense pressure from their teams to succeed and with that, comes the pressure from within a rider not to let their teammates down.

I remember well a few team launches early in the year where it was abundantly clear what the suits from a team’s sponsor wanted from their riders and the words “Tour Series” were top of the agenda.

Teams like Rapha in 2011 were built around the Halfords Tour Series and in 2012, others followed suit. Endura Racing was the big one of course but Raleigh-GAC and Node4 too all made signings with the Tour Series in mind.

An example of the pressure on riders came in a race, forgive me for not remembering which of the rounds as that’s just one big hazy memory, a rider rolled in and the first thing he did was apologise to his teammates for not being ‘on it’ in that race. Riders knew their futures hung in the balance based on their results in this series and so all credit to them for coping with that pressure.

For a young rider of only 22, Scott Thwaites had a fantastic series. He not only handled the pressure from his team for results but not for the crash in Torquay, he may well have become the only rider to win three rounds in the series. Unsurprisingly, Scott was the top rider of the series based on his results and he achieved those with panache!  

There were those who succeeded and those who didn’t but a look at the final result from Stoke with four riders from Down Under in the first four, and from that, three of them were signed to British teams for 2012 to give their teams a chance of success in the Tour Series. Those riders being Bernie Sulzerbger, Mike Northey and Richard Lang. The fourth, Zak Dempster, had ridden the series before and actually wasn’t due to ride the Halfords Tour Series in 2012. An injury to his friend and fellow Aussie Dean Windsor in Aberystwyth though meant Zak had to come in for the next round in Peterborough and what an impression he made.

Five of the eleven rounds in the Halfords Tour Series saw the best women in Britain racing (Johnson GP Series) in front of the TV cameras and big crowds. Helps too when you have a World Champion like Lucy Garner signing autographs for her fans.

It’s hard to argue with stats and for me, Zak sneaked the ‘award’ as the most impressive rider of the series which is quite something when there were quite a few standout series performances from the likes of Bernie Sulzberger, Scott Thwaites (double winner), and Kristian House (double winner). Dean Windsor too before he crashed out purely because of his sheer aggression shown time and time again. If it was teams that impressed, then UK Youth who made a lot of people sit up and take notice were the revelation for me.

But when it comes to individual riders, Zak Dempster reminded me of the form he had for RCS at the start of 2011 when he was on fire. Zak came into the 2012 series halfway through and was fifth in Peterborough in his debut in the series, followed that up with a win in Canary Wharf, second in Torquay, another win in Woking, third in Stoke and his worst result was Colchester (out of the top 10). Not a bad record for someone not due to do the series!

His success is even more impressive when this year’s series was acknowledged by the riders who have been involved from the start as being the fastest and most hard fought series yet. Sure, Endura Racing won the series overall and appear to have walked it based on their winning margin in the overall but there were rounds like Stoke where they weren’t able to dominate like they did in Woking.

Dempster’s performance in Woking was just so awesome ‘baby’… 

The difference between winning and losing was so small that even for Endura Racing, it didn’t take much for them to get well beaten by better riders on the night like when Graham Briggs (Raleigh-GAC) won a round or Niklas Gustavsson of Team UK Youth.

The 2012 Series though has been won and lost and for Endura Racing, that’s a line through another of the year’s ‘projects’. Time now for the teams and riders to move on. For me, the season is still young with championships to come, three more Premier Calendar events and of course, that other big Sweetspot event that teams all want to be involved with, the Tour of Britain.

It’s been emotional for sure and it will be interesting to see what happens next year. An example of the reach that the TV coverage had became apparent to me when I was talking to a builder this week and he asked what I did. I explained of course and he then started talking about the Halfords Tour Series and the venues he’d seen on TV.

No connection with cycling and yet, he’s been following it on ITV4. With the Halfords Tour Series & Tour of Britain the only British racing on TV outside of a few events like the London Nocturne and British RR Champs, it shows the importance this circuit race series has for cycling in Britain.

This year saw lots of teams capable of winning the team award and UK Youth did just that in Wales!

After it grew from eight rounds in 2011 to eleven rounds in 2012, will we see it grow even more? Will we see smaller teams inject more money into their team to try and compete and do what Raleigh and UK Youth did this year.

For sure, many of the guest teams found it difficult to compete against the ‘pros’ but I was pleased to see riders in teams like Hope Factory Racing and Herbalife/Leisure Lakes, part of the ten teams competing in all the rounds of the series,  in the main peloton ‘til the end of races. Not only was the racing faster this year, but the smaller teams certainly competed better than those in the past have and as one rider said, the difference between being in that front group and a top 10 placing and being an also ran in the bunch gallop is only one or two per cent.

I for one really looked forward to the series this year and was so caught up in the work at it, that I haven’t yet had time to fully appreciate just how great it has been this year. But the racing has certainly been awesome and as for next year, I guess we’ll have to wait until 2013 to see what awaits us!

Winner of the Sprints comp and a round of the series (Stoke), Bernie Sulzberger was a master signing for Raleigh-GAC who had two individual wins in the series (Graham Briggs the other) and also a team win. 

The 2012 Halfords Tour Series Honours List

There are more stats we could have come up with but without the complete overall listings of where everyone finished round by round, this is the best we could do so far… interesting nonethless I am sure you will all agree!

Individual Victories
Two wins each to Kristian House, Scott Thwaites, Zak Dempster
One each to: Graham Briggs, Ed Clancy, Niklas Gustavsson, Bernie Sulzberger, Marcin Bialoblocki

Team Wins
1. Endura Racing (7)
2. Node4 – Giordana Racing (2)
3. UK Youth (1)
3. Raleigh (1)
3. Rapha Condor Sharp (1)

Team with the most individual wins: Endura Racing (4)

Rider with the most podiums (top 3s):
1. Scott Thwaites (4)
1. Zak Dempster (4)

3. Graham Briggs (3)
3. Bernie Sulzberger (3)

5. Kristian House (2)
5. Mike Northey (2)
5. Marcel Six (2)
5. Dean Windsor (2)
5. Niklas Gustavsson (2)
5. Chris Opie (2)

10. Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4 – Giordana) (1)
10. Ed Clancy (Rapha Condor Sharp) (1)
10. Ian Bibby (1)
10. Rico Rogers (1)
10. James Stewart (UK Youth Cycling) (1)
10. Daniel Holloway (Team Raleigh – GAC) (1)
10. Yanto Barker (Team UK Youth) (1)
In all, 17 riders podiumed in the 11 rounds (not inc. TTT)

Sprint wins (overall at rounds)
1. Bernie Sulzberger (4)
1. Marcel Six (4)
3. Zak Dempster (1)
3. Kristian House (1)
3. Yanto Barker (1)

There were 5 riders who won the Sprint overall at a round of the 2012 Halfords Tour Series

Rookies to podium in the 2012 Series (all foreign riders!)
Bernie Sulzberger
Mike Northey
Daniel Holloway
Rico Rogers

Wins by non British riders: 5
Podiums by non-British riders: 17

TOP 10’S

32 different riders finished in the top 10

Most Top 10s by a rider – seven (Scott Thwaites, Yanto Barker, Jonny McEvoy & Graham Briggs)

Tops 10s by rider
1. Scott Thwaites (7)
1. Yanto Barker (7)
1. Jonny McEvoy (7)
1. Graham Briggs (7)

5. Chris Opie (6)
5. Marcel Six (6)

7. Zak Dempster (5)
7. Bernie Sulzberger (5)
7. Niklas Gustavsson (5)

10. Mike Northey (4)
10. Kristian House (4)
10. Tobyn Horton (4)
10. Matt Cronshaw (4)
10. Ed Clancy (4)

15. Ian Bibby (3)
15. Rico Rogers (3)
15. Ian Wilkinson (3)
15. James Stewart (3)
15. Dean Windsor (3)
15. Andy Tennant (3)

21. Marcin Bialoblocki (2)
21. Stephen Adams (2)
21. Daniel Holloway (2)
21. James McCallum (2)
21. Dean Downing (2)

26. Richard Lang, Rapha Condor Sharp
26. Pete Williams
26. Steve Lampier
26. Simon Richardson
26. David McGowan, UK Youth
26. Russ Downing, Endura Racing
26. Will Bjergfelt, Cycle Premier – Kovert

Winner of Best individual rider
(only based on riders finishing position in the top 10 per round as I don’t have the full results! — bit of fun you understand… 10 points for win, 1 for 10th)

1. Scott Thwaites 51
2. Zak Dempster 43
3. Graham Briggs 40
4. Chris Opie 38
5. Yanto Barker 35
6. Bernie Sulzberger 33 points
7. Jonny McEvoy 31
7. Marcel Six 31
9. Mike Northery 28
9. Kristian House 28
11. Niklas Gustavsson 26
12. Dean Windsor 24
13. Ian Bibby 20
14. Ed Clancy 19
14. Andy Tennant 19
16. Matt Cronshaw 18
17. Tobyn Horton 17
18. Rico Rogers 16
19. James Stewart 12
19. Marcin Bialoblocki 12
19. Ian Wilkinson 12
22. Dean Downing 11
23. Daniel Holloway 10
24. Stephan Adams 8
25. Richard Lang 7
26. James McCallum 6
27. Pete Williams 3
28. Russ Downing, Endura Racing 2
28. David McGowan, UK Youth 2
28. Steve Lampier 2
31. Simon Richardson 1
31. Will Bjergfelt, Cycle Premier – Kovert 1

* And yes, I do realise it favours riders who did the whole series!

Rider with the best grimace — tie between Dave Collins (Hope Factory Racing) and James Stewart (UK Youth)

Most improved on previous years – Niklas Gustavsson

Best Foreign Rider: Zak Dempster

Best newcomer to the series – Bernie Sulzberger

Most Scenic Round: Tie between Aberystwyth (great light!) and Oxford (great buildings!)  – (special mention to Canary Wharf, great circuit with all that glass, wouldn’t want to work there!)

Best Post Race Interview –  Zak Dempster is nominated for his post race interview in Stoke. Wonderful apparently (didn’t get to see it!) ….

Sexiest Male rider:  Niklas Gustavsson is the first nomination… do we have any others?

… anyone care to nominate the sexist male and female rider… coolest set of wheels, best cornering technique to look at, best show off etc  https://www.velouk.net/contact-us/

PS: we’re poor so there are no prizes and judges (me) decision is final!!

Aberystwyth – the best light for photography …. and very scenic too!


Round 1: KirkcaldyReport/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing), 2. Bernie Sulzberger (Raleigh-GAC), 3. Rico Rogers (Node 4)
Team: Endura Racing
Sprints: Marcel Six (Scott Metaltek)

Round 2. DurhamReport/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp), 2. Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing), 3. Ian Bibby (Endura Racing)
Team: Endura Racing
Sprints: Kristian House

Round 3. Oxford Report/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing), 2. Marcel Six (Metaltek Scott), 3. Dean Windsor (Endura Racing)
Team: Edura Racing
Sprints: Marcel Six

Women’s Johnson GP Series Report/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Annie Simpson (Matrix Fitness – Prendas), 2. Hannah Barnes, 3. Jo Tindley (VC St Raphael/Waite Contracts)
Team: Matrix Fitness – Prendas
Sprints: Annie Simpson (Matrix Fitness – Prendas)

The Women’s series was the most open for years with youngsters like Jessie Walker get stuck in and being rewarded for that hard work.

Round 4. RedditchReport/Results/Photos 
Winner: 1 Niklas Gustavsson (UK Youth), 2. Dean Windsor (Endura Racing), 3. Bernie Sulzberger (Raleigh – GAC)
Team: Endura Racing
Sprints: Bernie Sulzberger (Raleigh – GAC)

Round 5. AberystwythReport/Results/Photos 
Winner: 1 Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp), 2. Christopher Opie (UK Youth), 3. James Stewart (UK Youth Cycling)
Team: UK Youth
Sprints: Marcel Six

Round 6. PeterboroughReport/Results/Photos 
Winner: 1. Ed Clancy (Rapha Condor Sharp), 2. Daniel Holloway (Team Raleigh – GAC), 3. Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing)
Team: Raleigh-GAC
Sprints: Marcel Six (Scott/Metaltek)

Women’s Johnson GP Series Report/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Harriet Owen (Node4 – Giordana Racing), 2. Annie Simpson (Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 3. Hannah Barnes
Team: Node4 – Giordana Racing
Sprints: Annie Simpson (Matrix Fitness – Prendas)

Annie Simpson is proof that a young rider can win the biggest prize in Women’s racing in Britain.

Round 7. Canary WharfReport/Results/Photos 
Winner: 1. Zak Dempster (Endura Racing), 2. Mike Northey (Node4 – Giordana Racing), 3. Chris Opie (UK Youth)
Team: Endura Racing
Sprints: Yanto Barker (Team UK Youth)

Round 8. TorquayReport/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4 – Giordana), 2. Zak Dempster (Endura Racing), 3. Graham Briggs (Raleigh – GAC)
Team: Node4 – Giordana
Sprints: Bernie Sulzberger (Raleigh – GAC)

Round 9. ColchesterReport/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Graham Briggs (Raleigh – GAC), 2. Niklas Gustavsson (Team UK Youth), 3. Marcel Six (Metaltek Scott)
Team: Endura Racing
Sprints: Bernie Sulzberger (Raleigh – GAC)

Women’s Johnson GP Series Report/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Eileen Roe 2. Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten), 3. Alice Barnes (Twenty3c.co.uk – Orbea)
Team: Matrix Fitness – Prendas
Sprints: Annie Simpson (Matrix Fitness – Prendas)

Round 10. WokingReport/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Zak Dempster (Endura Racing), 2. (Yanto Barker, Team UK Youth) 3. Graham Briggs, (Team Raleigh – GAC)
Team: Endura Racing
Sprints: Zak Dempster (Endura Racing)

Women’s Johnson GP Series Report/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Lucy Garner (Node4 – Giordana Racing), 2. Ruth Winder, (Team VanderKitten), 3. Penny Rowson (Matrix Fitness – Prendas)
Team: Matrix Fitness – Prendas
Sprints: Ruth Winder (Team VanderKitten)

Round 11. Stoke on TrentReport/Results/Photos 
Winner: 1. Bernie Sulzberger (Team Raleigh – GAC), 2. Mike Northey, Node4 – Giordana Racing, 3. Zak Dempster (Endura Racing)
Team: Node4 – Giordana Racing
Sprints:1. Bernie Sulzberger (Team Raleigh – GAC)

Women’s Johnson GP Series Report/Results/Photos
Winner: 1. Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing), 2. Laura Massey (Vivelo Bikes / Inverse / Cyclaim), 3. Jessie Walker (Matrix Fitness – Prendas)
Team: Matrix Fitness Prendas
Sprints: Helen Wyman


Halfords Tour Series

Team Standings
1. Endura Racing, 110pts
2. Rapha Condor Sharp, 93pts
3. Team UK Youth, 92pts
4. Team Raleigh – GAC, 89pts
5. Node4 – Giordana Racing, 88pts
6. Cycle Premier – Kovert, 53pts
7. Team IG – Sigma Sport, 45pts
8. Metaltek Scott, 42pts
9. Herbalife LeisureLikesBikes, 26pts
10. Team Hope Factory, 21pts

Boardman Sprints
1. Bernard Sulzberger, Team Raleigh – GAC, 108pts
2. Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott, 56pts
3. Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp, 38pts
4. Yanto Barker, Team UK Youth, 30pts
5. Zak Dempster, Endura Racing, 29pts


1. Annie Simpson, Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 77pts
2. Helen Wyman, Kona Factory Racing, 72pts
3. Corrine Hall, Node4 – Giordana Racing, 62pts
4. Penny Rowson, Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 58pts
5. Laura Massey, Vivelo Bikes / Inverse / Cyclaim, 57pts
6. Harriet Owen, Node4 – Giordana Racing, 54pts
7. Jo Tindley, VC St Raphael, 50pts
8. Hannah Walker, Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 45pts
9. Louise Mahe, Mule Bar Girls, 45pts
10. Alice Barnes, Twenty3c.co.uk – Orbea, 31pts

1. Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 202pts
2. Node4 – Giordana Racing, 175pts
3. VC St Raphael, 105pts
4. Mule Bar Girls, 82pts
5. Look Mum No Hands!, 45pts
6. WyndyMilla UK Youth, 7pts

Final Sprints standings
1. Annie Simpson, Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 25pts
2. Jo Tindley, VC St Raphael, 24pts
3. Hannah Walker, Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 19pts
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