Endura are the team to beat in big city race
Halfords Tour Series riders, from the left, Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing); Daniel Holloway (Team Raleigh-gac); Jack Cutsforth (Team Herbalife LeisurelakesBikes); Mike Northey (Node4-giordana Racing); Niklas Gustavsson (Team UK Youth); Tom Barras (Metaltek Scott); Russell Falder (Cycle Premier - Kovert); Andy Tennant (Rapha Condor Sharp); Paul Oldham (Team Hope Factory Racing); Tom Murray (Team IG - Sigma Sport) model the kits that will be seen in Peterborough on Tuesday. ONE of the city’s biggest sporting occasions of the year arrives in Cathedral Square on Tuesday and if the opening races of the Halfords Tour Series are anything to go by, Endura Racing will be the ones everyone has to beat.
Rapha Condor Sharp won here last year and supplied the individual victor in Graham Briggs before going on to lift the title. But while they possess plenty of big names - including Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy, Commonwealth bronze medallist James Mccallum and former Peterborough leg winner Dean Downing - they have been outshone so far this year by Endura and Team UK Youth.
Endura have been on fire with team victories in the opening four races and impressive individual displays as well.
The opener at Kirkcaldy saw Endura ace Scott Thwaites win and with Dean Windsor also in the top five his side recorded the first of those four team successes.
Endura again came out on top at Durham two days later, despite a surprise win for Rapha’s Kristian House who is in contention for the overall sprints title won so impressively by Eye cyclist Steve Lampier last year.
House is currently third, 14 points behind leader and former Australian criterium champion Bernard Sulzberger but with 15 points up for grabs at each event that can quickly change.
Thwaites added his second victory at Oxford on Tuesday when Windsor and Jonny Mcevoy also featured in the top five in front of a big crowd including former Formula One world champion Nigel Mansell, who is president of the talented Team UK Youth outfit who include ex-tour de France stage winner Magnus Backstedt and Niklas Gustavsson - who won stage four at Redditch on Thursday - in their side.
Windsor was second on that occasion and with Thwaites fifth and Mcevoy seventh Endura made it four wins out of four.
So what makes Endura so strong, and can they keep up their superb form in the city centre on Tuesday? Judging by their squad, you would have to fancy them as the course clearly suits many of their riders.
Ian ‘Superman’ Wilkinson won when the Tour Series first arrived in the city three years ago when Russell Downing was just behind him and Endura also boast Premier Calendar champion Ian Bibby as well as in-form Aussie Windsor and British talents Thwaites and Mcevoy.
Wilkinson went close to a second win here two years ago but Downing’s brother Dean, who rides for Rapha, just pipped him for one of his five Tour Series victories to date.
Downing was also second last year despite a crash, but he had no answer to British Circuit race champion Briggs who timed his sprint for the line to perfection.
Briggs now rides for Team Raleigh and must be respected based on his previous form here. The 2010 Tour Series sprints champion will take some stopping if he’s in the leading group with a lap to go.
Lampier, who recorded his first sprints win during the Peterborough leg last year before going on to win that title, insist he will be ready to race after a nightmare week on the Tour last week.
The Team IG Sigma rider was lapped for their first time ever in a Tour Series race at Oxford on Tuesday when struggling with a cold, was forced to pull out after just two laps at Redditch two days later and missed last night’s race at Aberystwyth in a bid to be fit for his home city race.
Tuesday’s men’s race, which gets under way at 7pm, will consist of an hour’s racing followed by five further laps of the 1.1k circuit.
The second race of the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series precedes the men’s race, starting at 5pm.
Annie Simpson won the opener at Oxford, leading Matrix FitnessPrendas to team victory.
READY TO IMPRESS A BIG PETERBOROUGH CROWD: