Endura Racing’s staranglehold on the 2012 Halfords Tour Series was finally broken on Round Five in Aberystwyth on Friday evening, when for the first time in this year’s competition the Scottish UCI Continental outfit failed to take the team win, which instead went to Team UK Youth, their first ever team victory in the city-centre racing series. Kristian House of Rapha-Condor-Sharp, winner in Round Two in Durham, took the individual win on the night.
Some 24 hours earlier, the former national road race champion had got into the break in Redditch but was unable to prevent Niklas Gustavsson from achieving Team UK Youth’s first individual success in the event, with the team run by former F1 world champion Nigel Mansell and Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt emerging as this year’s surprise package.
The outfit had two riders, Chris Opie and James Stewart, in a four man break that contested the finale in Aberystwyth on Friday, the others being House and Tobyn Horton of Raleigh-GAC.
“With UK Youth having two in there it was always going to be a problem so I let them ride for a bit and then attacked then. I got rid of one of them and then just went for the sprint,” reflect House after his win.
“It’s a hard course so it wears people down. The course suits me really well, I knew that and I knew where to hit them.”
“Second place for me, same as last year here,” reflected Opie. “There were two of us up there and I was the one that managed to muck it up – I just didn’t go hard enough. On a positive note we managed to get the team prize so it’s pretty good stuff. On the descent I came around the last corner standing up and I had nothing in my legs, Kristian was a lot stronger, no excuses.”
He added: “We’re moving up there, consolidating our second place overall and winning the team prize tonight – we’re really happy with that.”
Only Ian Wilkinson, who had attacked early on, got into the top ten for Endura Racing as its dominance came to an end, although it retains the series lead by six points from Team UK Youth and will be looking for revenge in Peterborough tomorrow evening.
“It’s better to be the aggressor rather than trying to chase,” he maintained. “I was still trying to attack the race. I attacked around the back and I expected someone to come with me. It was too early to go all the way on my own. I thought a small group might come with me but it did split the race up and kept the pressure on.
“Ian Bibby and Jonny McIvoy had bad crashes so that isolated us with three riders so when the group came back up to me, we were there to be shot at then. We did quite well and regrouped and Dean [Windsor] got away which was perfect but then he crashed so that was that.
“We’ve conceded a couple of points but we’re just under halfway in the Series. We’ve still got a little lead and we’re keeping it entertaining,” he added.
While Raleigh-GAC’s Bernard Sulzberger crashed early on, the former Australian criterium champion keeps the Boardman sprints jersey, although his lead over Marcel Six of Metaltek Scott has been cut to just three points.
“I had a bit of luck really,” Sulzberger said. “I crashed early on in the back-straight and then crashed again. First time I broke my right-hand buckle and second time I broke my left-hand buckle on my shoe so that was it, I can’t really sprint without buckles. It’s obviously a bit tighter now so I am going to have to get up there next week and work hard.”
Highlights of Friday’s race will be screened this evening on ITV4 at 8pm. Round Six of the 2012 Halfords Tour Series takes place tomorrow evening in Peterborough, followed by Canary Wharf (Thursday 31st May), Torquay (Tuesday 5th June), Colchester (Thursday 7th June), Woking (Tuesday 12th June) and the Grand Final in Stoke-on-Trent (Thursday 14th June).
The Halfords Tour Series, Round Five, Aberystwyth, Provisional Results
Round Five Individual Result
1 Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp
2 Chris Opie, Team UK Youth
3 James Stewart, Team UK Youth
4 Tobyn Horton, Team Raleigh-GAC
5 Dean Downing, Rapha Condor Sharp
6 Ian Wilkinson, Endura Racing
7 Yanto Barker, Team UK Youth
8 Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott
9 Graham Briggs, Team Raleigh-GAC
10 Daniel Holloway, Team Raleigh-GAC
Round Five Team Result
1 Team UK Youth
2 Rapha Condor Sharp
3 Team Raleigh-GAC
4 Endura Racing
5 Node4 - Giordana Racing
6 Cycle Premier-Kovert
7 Team IG-Sigma Sport
8 Herbalife LeisureLakesBikes
9 Metaltek Scott
10 Team Hope Factory Racing
Overall Team Standings, post-Round Five
1 Endura Racing, 47pts
2 Team UK Youth, 41pts
3 Rapha Condor Sharp, 39pts
4 Team Raleigh-GAC, 36pts
5 Node4 - Giordana Racing, 35pts
6 Cycle Premier - Kovert, 21pts
7 Team IG-Sigma Sport, 19pts
8 Metaltek Scott, 14pts
9 Herbalife LeisureLakesBikes, 12pts
10 Team Hope Factory Racing, 10pts
Boardman Bikes Sprints winner Aberystwyth
Marcel Six (Metaltek Scott)
Boardman Bikes Sprints standings, post-Round Five
1 Bernard Sulzberger, Team Raleigh-GAC, 47pts
2 Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott, 44pts
3 Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp, 30pts
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.