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Halfords Tour Series hits sunny Oxford - but who graduated with honours?

Soaring temperatures and big crowds greet riders on circuit in centre of university city

Sunshine and soaring temperatures greeted the Halfords Tour Series as it made its first ever visit to Oxford yesterday, the weather bringing out thousands of spectators to watch Endura Racing’s Scott Thwaites make it two out of three wins this year, with the Scotland-based UCI Continental outfit also taking the team win. Earlier, Annie Simpson of Matrix Fitness-Prendas RT had won the opening round of the Johnson Health Tech GP Series.

The racing took place on an out-and back Y-shaped circuit on St Giles, with fans using the steps of the city’s War Memorial at one end and the Martyrs’ Memorial at the other to gain a vantage point to watch the racing.

Many wore the jersey of the  Zappi’s Cycling Club, founded by Italian ex-pro and former Giro d’Italia rider Flavio Zappi, who runs a cycling café in the city and whose Zappi’s Pro Cycling team provided the guest riders for the race.

Formula 1 is a sport with which Oxfordshire has particularly close links, and former world champion Nigel Mansell was also present to watch Team UK Youth, of which he is president, put in a strong showing with four riders in the top ten.

Endura, in the orange jerseys of series leaders, had looked to get riders into every attack and managed to get three men into a 14-strong group that got away at the halfway point, with Dean Windsor and Jonny McEvoy joining Thwaites in the group.

Hairpin bends at either end of the course – the top end, by St Giles Church, also had two other tight bends – plus two long straights tested the riders as the were forced to slow down going into the corners then accelerate out of them, and there were splits in the peloton from early on.

The first break included Marcel Six of Metaltek Scott, who took all three Boardman Bikes sprints on the evening, although it is Bernard Sulzberger of Team Raleigh-GAC who takes over the lead in that competition from Rapha Condor Sharp’s Kristian House.

Six was also in the group that contested the finale, finishing second to Thwaites, while behind them Chris Opie of Team UK Youth had his arms aloft, protesting that he had been blocked.

“We had three riders [in the leading pack] which was enough,” said Thwaites afterwards.  “Sometimes when you have more people expect you to ride harder so we were comfortable with that and kept the pressure on.  We wanted to make sure the pack didn’t catch up.

“Dean and Jonny were riding so hard, I was maybe struggling a bit out of the dead turns, I don’t quite have the zip I had last year but it’s coming. I think I am a lot stronger than I’ve ever been but I am lacking that top two percent. With a sprint like this, quite a long sprint and into a head-wind, my strength came through.”

Endura Racing’s performance means they are now seven points clear at the top of the team rankings, but just two points separate the next four outfits – defending champions Rapha Condor Sharp, Team Raleigh-GAC, Team UK Youth and Node4-Giordana Racing.

“It was very tough tonight because of the hairpins,” said Sulzberger, the new wearer of the Boardman Bikes sprint jersey. “I was a bit worried because Marcel got the first sprint so I had to be up there for the next few. It was very tight, I think I only managed to win it by one point.

“It’s good to get the jersey for the team. We’ve got Thursday and Friday to come so I am going to try my best and keep the jersey.”

Earlier, the rainbow jersey of UCI World Junior Road Race Champion Lucy Garner had been prominent among the 50 riders competing in the first round of the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series, won by Annie Simpson.

The Matrix Fitness-Prendas RT rider had attacked from the leading group on the back straight, while behind Garner was leading the chase to try and bridge across to the riders at the head of the race. While the front group came back together coming round the final hairpin, Simpson held on for victory.

“It was all or nothing for me tonight. I thought that I was just going to go for it, my legs held in there and it’s so nice to get my arms up, it was really good,” she said afterwards.

“I’ve just finished University on Wednesday so I’ve got a full summer of cycling ahead and that gave me a bit of a lift I think today.”

Simpson, who won the Oldham round of the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series
loast year, said of the event: “It’s amazing. Everyone hears about you, they know your name and it gets the team out there. That’s brilliant as they give us so much support. To give TV time to them is the best thing I can do. Without my sponsors I wouldn’t be here at all.”

The Halfords Tour Series, Round Three, Oxford, Provisional Results

Round Three Individual Result

1    Scott Thwaites, Endura Racing
2    Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott
3    Dean Windsor, Endura Racing
4    Chris Opie, Team UK Youth
5    Jonny McEvoy, Endura Racing
6    Mike Northey, Node4-Giordana Racing
7    James McCallum, Rapha Condor Sharp
8    James Stewart, Team UK Youth
9    Niklas Gustavsson, Team UK Youth
10    Bernard Sulzberger, Team Raleigh - GAC

Round Three Team Result

1    Endura Racing
2    Team UK Youth
3    Rapha Condor Sharp
4    Node4 - Giordana Racing
5    Team Raleigh - GAC
6    Metaltek Scott
7    Herbalife LeisureLakesBikes
8    Team IG - Sigma Sport
9    Team Hope Factory Racing
10   Cycle Premier - Kover

Overall Team Standings, post-Round Three

1    Endura Racing, 30pts
2    Rapha Condor Sharp, 23pts
3    Team UK Youth, 22pts
4    Team Raleigh - GAC, 22pts
5    Node4 - Giordana Racing 21pts
6    Team IG - Sigma Sport, 12pts
7    Cycle Premier - Kovert, 11pts
8    Metaltek Scott, 11pts
9    Team Hope Factory Racing, 7pts
10   Herbalife LeisureLakesBikes, 10pts   

Boardman Bikes Sprints winner Oxford: Marcel Six (Metaltek Scott)

Boardman Bikes Sprints standings, post-Round Three

1    Bernard Sulzberger, Team Raleigh - GAC, 32pts
2    Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott, 25pts
3    Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp, 21pts

Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series, Round One, Oxford, Provisional Results

Round One Individual Result

1         Annie Simpson, Matrix Fitness - Prendas          
2         Hanna Barnes, Team Ibis Cycles
3         Jo Tindley, VC St Raphael
4         Corrine Hall, Node4-Giordana Racing
5         Jo McRae, Look Mum No Hands!
6         Lucy Garner, Node4-Giordana Racing
7         Helen Wyman, Kona Factory Racing
8         Tamina Oliver, Abergavenny Road Club
9         Natalie Creswick, Mule Bar Girls
10        Sarah Reynolds, Matrix Fitness-Prendas
11        Lydia Boylan, Look Mum No Hands!
12        Adele Carter, Team Hope Factory Racing
13        Penny Rowson, Matrix Fitness-Prendas
14        Adel Tyson-Bloor, VC St Raphael
15        Amy Roberts, Scott Contessa Epic
16        Harriet Owen, Node4-Giordana Racing
17        Louise Mahe, Mule Bar Girls
18        Rachel Stokes, Zappi's Cycling Club
19        Alice Barnes,
20        Laura Massey, Vivelo Bikes / Inverse Cyclaim RT

Round One Team Result

1         Matrix Fitness - Prendas, 39pts
2         Node4 - Giordana Racing, 37pts
3         Look Mum No Hands!, 26pts
4         VC St Raphael, 25pts
5         Mule Bar Girls, 16pts
6         Team Hope Factory Racing, 9pts
7         Scott Contessa Epic, 6pts
8         Zappi's Cycling Club, 3pts
9         Vivelo Bikes / Inverse Cyclaim RT, 1pt

Overall Team Standings, post-Round One

1         Matrix Fitness - Prendas, 39pts
2         Node4 - Giordana Racing, 37pts
3         Look Mum No Hands!, 26pts
4         VC St Raphael, 25pts
5         Mule Bar Girls, 16pts
6         Team Hope Factory Racing, 9pts
7         Scott Contessa Epic, 6pts
8         Zappi's Cycling Club, 3pts
9         Vivelo Bikes / Inverse Cyclaim RT, 1pt

Sprints winner Oxford: Annie Simpson (Matrix Fitness-Prendas)

Sprints standings, post-Round One

1         Annie Simpson, Matrix Fitness - Prendas, 8pts
2         Lucy Garner, Node4 - Giordana Racing, 5pts
3         Jo Tindley, VC St Raphael, 5pts

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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