With the criterium season in full swing, Premier Calendar action resumes this weekend after a brief hiatus.
The Ryedale Grand Prix returns after doubling last year as the National Road Race Championships.
Whilst Dean Downing has been tearing up the Tour Series, it?s his brother Russell who leads the Premier Calendar standings after five rounds by a comfortable margin.
Downing ? Russell, that is ? won here in 2005, taking the national champion?s jersey in the process, but this year will be fighting for precious Premier Calendar points.
The Ryedale Grand Prix is the longest race on the Premier Calendar, at 181km, and the distance could prove decisive, particularly to those who have been riding in the hour-long Tour Series criteriums.
An undulating and twisting course will test the riders as they head through the Howardian Hills of North Yorkshire, through Hovingham to the finish at Duncombe Park.
It was here on the run-in to Duncombe that Hayles launched the attack that would win him the national title last year; Hayles won?t be riding this year, but his Halfords team-mates ? Ian Wilkinson and Andy Tennant ? are snapping at the heels of Russell Downing in the Premier Calendar standings and will look to try and take points back this weekend.
?It?s difficult trying to stay fresh at the moment,? said Wilkinson, ?with all the criteriums. I?m second in the overall standings at the moment and there?s an overall prize this year so it?s important for the team.
?I?m not really doing any training at the moment, it?s just racing. I?m hoping to do well at the Ryedale, but we?re coming off a block of heavy racing with the Ras and the Tour Series.?
Other names to watch out for are Marcin Bialoblcoki, winner of the Girvan, and recently returning from a broken collarbone. Ras stage-winner Sam Bennett is a bright prospect for the future and could pull a few surprises.
Current Premier Calendar Standings:
1. Russell Downing (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) 438
2. Ian Wilkinson (Halfords Bikehut) 313
3. Andy Tennant (Halfords Bikehut) 239
4. Marcin Bialoblocki (Sports Beans-Wilier) 222
5. Kristian House (Rapha Condor) 189
6. Simon Gaywood (Corley Cycles) 157
7. Peter Williams (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) 138
7. Malcolm Elliott (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) 138
9. Chris Newton (Rapha Condor) 129
10. Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) 124
Above: Chris Newton wins alone in 2007
|RYEDALE GRAND PRIX|
Sunday, June 7
181km, 112 miles (11 laps)
Start: 11:30am, Duncombe Park
Finish: c. 4.20pm, Duncombe Park
2008 Rob Hayles – National Championship ? (Halfords Bikehut)
2007 Chris Newton (Recycling.co.uk)
2006 Evan Oliphant (Recycling.co.uk)
2005 Russell Downing ? National Championship – (Recycling.co.uk)
1. Rob Hayles (Halfords Bikehut)
2. Peter Kennaugh (100%ME)
3. Dan Lloyd (AN Post)
By organiser Bob Howden
?It’s a shame that Rob Hayles isn’t there after his win on the course at the Nationals last year.
?Some typical North Yorkshire weather is forecast which basically means anything could happen and probably will.
?A full field of 120 riders should see a repeat of the ?action from the off? racing style that has been a feature of the event since its inception in 2005. Matt Stephens can be usually seen driving the horses on this course and it should also suit Ian Wilkinson’s gutsy style.
?Russ Downing won the Nationals on here in 2005 and could win from a break or in the long uphill sprint through the parkland finish. Dark horses to get into a winning break could be John Tanner who was impressive in the Yorkshire Regional Champs and local rider James Sharp, only a 2nd Cat but he turns in a big performance every so often and he was in every break in the Regionals and failed by a whisker to get across to the final three man selection.
?Supporting the Grand Prix will be the North Yorkshire Schools Mountain Bike Championship and the Yorkshire Cyclo Cross Association’s Summer Series both held in Duncombe Park.
?[The race has] some of the best scenery to be found on a Premier Calendar Event and no doubt some cracking racing on the menu.?
|HOW I WON…|
By 2008 winner Rob Hayles
?It started hard, got harder in the middle and was unbelievably hard at the finish. We got in a good group and really worked well together. When it got to three and a half minutes, I knew it would take a hell of a lot to bring it back. We rode hard all the way and then it was up to me to make a move.?
|CW?S SUPER TEAM CHALLENGE|
It is getting close at the head of the table as the criterium season kicks in.
Candi are snapping at Halfords? heels, Rapha are eating away at the top two, and Madison have finally got their backsides in gear and are making up some ground.
With the Tour Series in full swing and the Smithfield Nocturne on Saturday, there are plenty of points still up for grabs and it?s all still to play for at the top of the standings as we head into the summer.
Thus if the standings haven?t changed considerably by the end of the weekend, we?ll eat our shorts. Maybe.
Halfords Bikehut 91
CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta 87
Rapha Condor 66
Plowman Craven-Madison 32
Sports Beans-Wilier 26
Le Col-Colnago 10
Corley Cycles 6
Sigma Sport 1
Grasscrete, manufacturers of environmental paving,
Ryedale Grand Prix: Official site