Eddie Soens: Win for Raleigh’s Wilkinson


Ian Wilkinson of Team Raleigh has won the biggest British race of the year so far outsprinting Graham Briggs and Rob Partridge.

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Eddie Soens: Win for Raleigh’s Wilkinson

Ian Wilkinson of Team Raleigh has won the biggest British race of the year so far outsprinting Graham Briggs and Rob Partridge after a break got clear in the closing laps of the race and with the major teams represented, it was given the all clear to stay away by those teams.


Strike one to Ian Wilkinson of Team Raleigh as be beats Graham Briggs to the line in the 2014 Eddie Soens.


Raleigh and Rapha Condor JLT were the teams with the major numbers there with Velosure Giordana only having a small team and no other major teams having the firepower to do anything about the break.

The race began with the usual handicap format of four groups being set off at different times and straight away there was attacking in the front group. The middle groups were huge but unable to make their numbers count whilst in the scratch group, there was no clear cut idea of which team was going to control the pace.

Rapha and Raleigh each had a go and then Rapha lost some riders in a crash, Will Stephenson among them before Raleigh took control for a whilst until the men in black got organised again. Whilst the pace of the scratch group didn’t appear visually to be that frantic, it was at the front.

The pros though were soon in the same straight as the big group in front. With still a third of the race to go, the junction was made and that prompted a series of small groups going clear.

It wasn’t until four riders got clear with riders from the three big teams, and fast sprinters as well in Wilkinson and Briggs, that the teams were happy and let it go. Dillon Byrne was the unknown and after his success in the Salt Ayre league in 2013, there was a chance of an upset.


The race is flagged away by Doreen Mallinson, a hall of famer in cycling from all the work she and her late husband John did

It wasn’t to be. He went backwards with three laps to go and it was down to three. Rob Partridge had a dig but that didn’t work and then in the sprint, Wilkinson took it up with Partridge on his wheel.

When ‘Superman’ opened the burners to make his run, Partridge was gapped and Briggs had to go the long way round, throwing a wheelie at the line but not doing enough to beat the Raleigh rider who came around a lap later stretched out over the bike in the superman position.

It was Team Raleigh that had struck first. Ominously though, look down the result sheet and it was Chris Opie and Felix English who took the next two positions after going 1-2 in the bunch kick. It shows they have the speed and it will be all the more interesting when we finally see the other two big teams in the mix as well.

It’s going to be a great season!


Richard Handley leads Luke Grivell-Mellor in the early stages of the race held in cold but dry and sunny conditions. Perfect!

Fast in his own right, Ian Wilkinson was up against another fast rider in Graham Briggs. Asked how confident he was of beating him, Ian replied “zero. Briggsy is very very fast and he was kicking through so strong. I knew I was strong but didn’t know how fast I was. I haven’t raced an event like this yet so I was quite happy to lead it out and then I saw Rob (Partridge) get on my wheel.”

“I thought Christmas had come early with Rob there, he was doing his turns but was going 2k an hour slower. I kept it going to the line and didn’t realise I was at the finish line and kept going and didn’t get my hands in the air! Super happy for the first race in Britain for Raleigh in 2014 and get the household name back in the household”.

On who was taking responsibility for the chasing in the scratch group, Ian explained “we had eight riders, we’re a pro team with a few sprint options in me, Blain and Morgan; Rapha had Briggsy and Opie, so the onus was on us two teams.”

“Not sure what happened but Rapha had a coming together and they fell off down the back so they lost three of them. So we took it up and fair play they came back and starting riding again. It still took us a while to catch them (the front group) though”.

“There was attacking all over the spot then and Blain was making efforts to get in front and I was following him and then Graham was right up there and keen. We then rolled off and teams were happy with two good riders in there.”


The Raleigh team in control at the front with the string led by Yanto Barker, the UK’s number 1 British based rider in 2013.

Rob Partridge “I am quite happy with that after the week I have had. I bit a bit of food poisoning at the start of the week so I wasn’t sure how I was going to go. I was lucky that Phil (Griffiths) made me an offer to come to this team and I am real happy to have all this nice kit and a Dogma (Pinarello) and a decent programme coming up.”

“I was up and down in the break with the stomach still hurting now so I was trying hard not to focus on that and focus on the race. When it got to 40 seconds, I knew I had to try something so I had a go on the back straight but it didn’t come to anything as these boys are so strong.”

“This is only my second race and it’s not one I am suited to but it shows he work I did in the winter has paid off.”


George Richardson on the attack.

Graham Briggs: A little bit mistiming he said on twitter referring to not having the right wheel in the sprint. Here is what he told VeloUK afterwards “It was good to get out there and pin a number on in the UK. The form is there. I had a good start to the season (Down Under) with all the boys and so I intend to keep the head down now and keep training hard.”

“I Partridge’s wheel and a gap opened and it was game over. I was coming fast but the line came to soon. I was feeling alright out there. I just came back from Tenerife on Thursday night so was a little tired and lacking a bit of zip but that will come next week.”

“I backed off when I got back from Down Under. We’ve just had an extension on the house and were moving in so I had a week off the bike before a week on the bike in the UK and then went to Tenerife and had a solid week there.”

“I was really surprised how well I climbed in New Zealand but I have put quite a lot of work in during the time in Australia and that helped. I said to John (Herety) on the last day in New Zealand on the climbs when it was going I was always top ten so I was confident I could get up there on the last stage.”

“I have always done well when I have good condition in the tougher races and like it when it’s a bit selective and it’s good to have a few strings to the bow.”


The middle group certainly huge but by no means organised.

Alex Blain (Raleigh) : The Eddie Soens was Alex Blain’s first race back after a injury. The former winner of the CiCLE Classic and a round of the Tour Series had good form I was told in France when with the team but what was Alex’s verdict?

“It was good. I am really surprised with my legs. I didn’t expect to feel so good so quick. It is good for morale and gives me confidence. Straight away we have found good spirit as a team and rode as a unit. So it was really pleasing for the first race in the UK and we have proved we have a good team.”


Tom Bustard of Velosure Giordana having a go once the race was together.

Morgan Kneisky: The former World Champion twice on the track, 2009 and 2013, was in a break and eighth in the race. Afterwards, with Yanto Barker the interpreter, VeloUK asked what he thought of his first road racing in UK. “It was open and it was good to discover what the British racing was like. I followed the breaks and made sure I did some work going with the flow of the moves.” He was, like the rest of the team, pleased with how it all had gone.


Chris Opie leads a dangerous move but it was short lived.

Yanto Barker (Raleigh): The top rider in Britain in 2013, in new colours for 2014, was a little ill in Haut Var but when asked how he felt in the Soens where he was 12th, he said “I am much better thanks. We knew what was going to happen even though I haven’t raced here before. It was an interesting one where there are a lot of little decisions to make and coming out on top means making the right ones repeatedly.”

“I saw the group with Wilkes go away and was really really happy. I thought that was one of the best situations we could have hoped for. Especially with Rob who is strong and I know Briggsy is going well because I was following him when he followed a few moves. We did a lead out at the end to keep ourselves safe but had to hold it back so we didn’t get too close to them for the finish.”

“What is really good is that there are three or four of us who know exactly what we need to be doing and make sure we communicate that to everyone else. Even if it had been someone else up the road, Wilkes would have been telling the others what was needed. There was a point in the race when we were doing too much riding and I had a conversation with Wilkes. We needed to change what we were doing as we were doing team time trial efforts, 15 or 20 seconds turns and we needed to do the turn and drop back behind the other teams to get them to come through”.

“It is nice to get the first one in the bag. A lot of people look out for the result on this one and it’s the first big hit out for a lot of teams. What is interesting for me is seeing the team dynamics going on out there on the road ;-) …”


The biggest break but too big to be given any freedom.


With Raleigh, Rapha etc in the break it was left to teams like Wheelbase with only one rider or two riders to do the chasing.


Graham Briggs looks back to see what the gap is. Dillon Byrne is the rider just behind him.


And then there was three, Briggs, Partridge and Wilkinson. 


Graham Briggs, Ian Wilkinson and Rob Partridge


Superman Ian Wilkinson flies in to collect his winners jersey and champagne.


The bunch kick and Chris Opie and Felix English go 1-2 with Raleigh well represented just behind.


1. Ian Wilkinson, Team Raleigh
2. Graham Briggs, Rapha Condor JLT
3. Rob Partridge, Velosure Giordana
4. Chris Opie, Rapha Condor JLT
5. Felix English, Rapha Condor JLT
6. Evan Oliphant, Team Raleigh
7. Alexandre Blain, Team Raleigh
8. Morgan Kneisky, Team Raleigh
9. Matt Cronshaw, Velosure Giordana
10. Phil West, VC ST Raphael
11. David McGowan, Metaltek
12. Yanto Barker, Team Raleigh
13. Simon Wilson, Wheelbase
14. Thomas Moses, Rapha Condor JLT
15. Jack Pullar, Starley Primal
16. Jack Escritt, Velocity
17. James Notley, Mammoth
18. Richard Hepworth Velosure Giordana
19. Fabiann Brennan, Velocity
20. Charlie Tanfield, Adept Precision


1. Ian Wilkinson
2. Graham Briggs
3. Robert Partridge
4. Chris Opie
5. Felix English
6. Evan Oliphant
7. Alexandre Blain
8. Morgan Kneisky
9. Matt Cronshaw
10. Philip West
11. David McGowan
12. Yanto Barker
13. Simon Wilson
14. Thomas Moses
15. Jack Pullar
16. Jack Escritt
17. James Notley
18. Richard Hepworth
19. Fabian Brennan
20. Charlie Tanfield
21. James Gullen
22. Dillon Byrne
23. Oscar Williamson
24. Jonathan Gildea
25. Richard Hughes
26. John Holt
27. George Richardson
28. Jordan Rigby
29. Max Spedding
30. Joseph Wiltshire
31. Sean Noon
32. Matthew Walls
33. Robert Watson
34. Jack Sadler
35. Zack Williamson
36. Nathan Wilson
37. Declan Hudson
38. James Powell
39. Ben Dean
40. Jacob Booth
41. Simon McNamara
42. Jake Beach
43. Stuart Bettis
44. Frank Pilkington
45. Elliott Reynolds
46. Ben Trotter
47. Paul Lally
48. Chris Gibbons
49. Alex Harvey
50. Nathan Edmondson
51. Daniel Stocchero
52. Brendan Devlin
53. Matt Hallam
54. Martin Dainty
55. Stephen Williams
56. Ryan McGillick
57. Andy Edwards
58. Darran Acton
59. Paul Brady
60. Mark Horrocks
61. Carl Finney
62. James Meadows
63. Billy Harding
64. Aaron Handley
65. Alex Dalton
66. Christopher Williams
67. Nicholas Jones
68. Paul Molyneux
69. Richard Moore
70. Darren Perry
71. Andy Hayton
72. Jayson Rees-Hughes
73. Philip Gray
74. Leigh Cowell
75. Luke Grivell-Mellor
76. Richard Handley
77. Neil Dean
78. Oliver Payton
79. Stephen Robinson
80. George Atkins
81. James Risk
82. James Eastbury
83. Liam Stones
84. Joseph Donohue
85. Lee Cairns
86. Lee Jackson
87. Reece Wood
88. Duncan Smith
89. Charlie Evans
90. Stephen Johnson
91. Karl Freeman
92. Tim Allen
93. Paul Ray
94. Peter Anderson
95. Darren Howitt
96. Anthony Crabbe
97. Gwyn Lovibond
98. Mark Walker
99. Stephen Abbott
100. Andrew Coupe
101. Joseph Perrett
102. David Micklethwaite
103. Andrew Martin
104. Kirk Vickers
105. Joshua Moody
106. Thomas Bustard
107. Hugh Carthy
108. Michael Ashurst
109. James Jobber
110. Sebastian Baylis
111. Ivan Boyes
112. Ashley Marshall
113. Paul Barnard
114. Joshua Cutler
115. Jordan Hargreaves
116. Will Thomas
117. Daniel Posnett
118. Michael Rawson
119. Hamish Graham
120. Chris Whittle
121. Jacob Trotter
122. John Coolahan
123. Cameron Fraser
124. Christopher Daddy
125. Benjamin Kellett

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