A gleaming bunch of one hundred and twenty riders get the Premier Calendar underway with the Bikeline Two-Day in North Wales this weekend [March14-15].

Recent events concerning the Premier Calendar ? the cancellation of both the Archer GP and Tour of Wessex, and scaling down of the Chas Messenger ? threatened to overshadow the racing, but it looks like we now have 11 quality races between March and August to decide who wins the series.

This is the third year of Premier Calendar status for the three-stage event. 2008 winner Dean Downing returns to defend his crown at the head of the eight-man Rapha-Condor squad having recovered from the broken collarbone and head wound sustained in a training crash in Spain.

?I?ve just come back from Girona in Spain, doing my first road training after getting off the turbo,? Downing told Cycling Weekly. ?It was a nice feeling to get back on the road, that?s for sure, after three weeks of turbo.

?I will be a bit nervous when I get back on the start line, but everybody?s in the same boat, although a few of the guys will have raced already. I will just be wondering how I?m going.?

All eyes will be on brother Russell (CandiTV-Pinarello), whose hopes of victory last year were dashed by mechanicals on the final stage, but who went on to win seven out of 10 Premier Calendar races.

Ian Wilkinson, now with Halfords Bikehut, powered up the undulating prologue course last year into a howling wind to pull on the leader?s jersey, and took the final stage for good measure. With team captain Rob Hayles also raring to go, Halfords could be the team to watch this weekend.

imageTom Southam leads the bunch in last year?s race

BIKELINE TWO-DAY

Saturday, March 14

Stage 1: Hope time trial, 1.6 kilometres (starts 11am)

Stage 2: Hope circuit, 56 kilometres (starts 2pm)

Sunday, March 15

Stage 3: Denbigh circuit, 138 kilometres (starts 10am)

Maps courtesy of the race organiser

MY RACE?

By organiser Jon Williams of the Mersey Roads Club

?We have got a 120-man field with all the big names. Chris Newton is the only one I can think of who is not down to race. I have had to return about 40 entries. It was a difficult decision to make.

?It is the usual format of prologue, road stage, then Sunday is rolling with a big climb towards the finish. We hit the climb at the Bulk on Sunday with about 16 miles to go and that?s where it usually splits up.?

RACE SPONSOR

Bikeline specialises in cycle and motorcycle accident claims.

www.bikeline.co.uk

>>>Subscribe to Cycling Weekly magazine online for great savings

LAST YEAR

Stage one, 1.6KM TT

1. Ian Wilkinson (SIS-Trek) in 2min 50.22sec

2. Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor-Recycling.co.uk) at 2sec

3. Simon Richardson (Plowman Craven) at 3sec

Stage two, 56km

1. Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven) 56km in 1hr 16min 15sec

2. Dale Appleby (Rapha-Condor-Recycling.co.uk) same time

3. Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor-Recycling.co.uk) same time

Stage three,138km

1 Ian Wilkinson (Science in Sport-Trek)

2 Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor-Recycling)

3 Russell Downing (Pinarello RT)

Final overall

1 Dean Downing 4-22-11

2 Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven) at 8sec

3 Dale Appleby (Rapha-Condor-Recycling) at 14sec

image

HOW I WON?.


By 2008 champion Dean Downing

?John Herety wound me up, saying I was rubbish at time trials, so I thought ?I?ll show you?, and I got second. And then three of us [Rapha Condor] got in the break in the afternoon stage, and I got third and the leader?s jersey.

“The team rode the whole day on the front on Sunday and kept the break at bay. Kristian House sat on the front and did a real good job on the climb. It all worked out pretty good and I cruised across the line with the help of the team. The team were fantastic last year.?

CW?S SUPER TEAM CHALLENGE


Yes, the hugely popular Super Team Challenge is back ? well, we like it, anyway. It?s bigger and better, with more points on offer and a chance for those up-and-coming smaller outfits to put the big boys? noses out of joint and give them a right good seeing-to.

Will Russell Downing put Pinarello out of reach again? Can Rapha add some substance to their style? Can Plowmans win anything? Is a bigger Halfords necessarily better? And can Sports Beans get a foot on the podium, or will they be trampled underfoot and squashed like a discarded jelly baby?

Stay tuned to find out who wins the biggest prize in domestic racing – we’re not sure what it is yet, but it is bound to be huge. Or quite big. Or of sentimental value, at least…

2008 final standings

1. Candi TV-Pinarello 111pts

2. Rapha-Condor-Recycling 49pts

3. Halfords Bikehut 48pts

4. 100% ME 14pts

5. Plowman Craven 12pts

TOP MAN AWARD


The expert panel here at CW towers will present the ?Top Man Award? to the one rider who, in the eyes of the judges, lights up the race.

Long solo breaks, selfless acts of heroism, spectacular somersaults into the hedgerow and multiple mechanical failures will all be considered.

Despite the title, this prestigious award is not sponsored by a high street clothing retailer. We do a have a surfeit of energy products kicking round the office, though, so may be able to dig out a Power Bar for the winner. Emotional acceptance speeches in the style of Kate Winslet will not be required.

RECENT WINNERS

2008 Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor-Recycling)

2007 Chris Newton (Recycling.co.uk)

2006 Simon Richardson (Subaru-Gary Fisher)

2005 Julian Winn (Pinarello)

2004 Steve Cummings (Sport and Publicity)

2003 Kevin Dawson (Life Repair Cycle RT)

2002 Kevin Dawson (Compensation Group)

2001 Race cancelled because of foot and mouth crisis

2000 Mike Jones (Robert Grinsell Travel)

1999 Gareth Sheppard (Cardiff JIF)

1998 David Williams (BCF private member)

OTHER NOTABLE WINNERS

1963, 1967 and 1973 Doug Dailey; 1965 Les West; 1966 Hugh Porter; 1977 Graham Jones; 1979 John Herety; 1984 Joey McLoughlin; 1988 and 1990 Steve Farrell; 1989 Ben Luckwell; 1994 Mark Lovatt; 1996 Rod Ellingworth

START LIST


Dean Downing Rapha Condor

Kristian House Rapha Condor

Ben Greenwood Rapha Condor

Rhys Lloyd Rapha Condor

Darren Lapthorne Rapha Condor

Matt Cronshaw Rapha Condor

Liam Holohan Rapha Condor

Tom Southam Rapha Condor

Stephen Adams Plowman Craven Madison

Tom Barras Plowman Craven Madison

Tony Gibb Plowman Craven Madison

James Millard Plowman Craven Madison

Jon Mozley Plowman Craven Madison

Tom Murray Plowman Craven Madison

Evan Oliphant Plowman Craven Madison

Jon Tiernan-Locke Plowman Craven Madison

Russ Downing Candi TV-Pinarello RT

Malcolm Elliott Candi TV-Pinarello RT

Graham Briggs Candi TV-Pinarello RT

Dale Appleby Candi TV-Pinarello RT

Matt Rowe Candi TV-Pinarello RT

Peter Williams Candi TV-Pinarello RT

James Sampson Candi TV-Pinarello RT

Andrew Roche Candi TV-Pinarello RT

Mark McNally Halfords Bikehut

Rob Partridge Halfords Bikehut

Andy Tennant Halfords Bikehut

Ian Wilkinson Halfords Bikehut

Ian Bibby Halfords Bikehut

David Fletcher Halfords Bikehut

Rob Hayles Halfords Bikehut

Seb Batchelor Halfords Bikehut

Matt Stephens Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful

Kit Gilham Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful

Tom Last Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful

Wouter Sybrandy Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful

Dan Duguid Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful

Andrew Bye Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful

James Williamson Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful

Neil Swithenbank Sigmasport/Specialized/Sportful

Jack Pullar KUK Kinesis

James Stewart KUK Kinesis

Matthew Kipling KUK Kinesis

Steve Lampier KUK Kinesis

Vincent Veilleux KUK Kinesis

Alex Bhogal KUK Kinesis

Rab Wardell KUK Kinesis

James Moss KUK Kinesis

Dave Collins Science in Sport.com

Gary Adamson Science in Sport.com

Andrew Tinsley Science in Sport.com

Andrew Guy Science in Sport.com

Alistair Rutherford Science in Sport.com

Nick Shaughnessy Science in Sport.com

Dean Shannon BMC UK Racing Team

Daniel Kogan BMC UK Racing Team

Ben Thompson BMC UK Racing Team

James Whatling BMC UK Racing Team

Joe Skipper BMC UK Racing Team

Adam Norris BMC UK Racing Team

Mark Wordsworth Team Corley Cycles

Matthew Higgins Team Corley Cycles

Richard Gartland Team Corley Cycles

Simon Gaywood Team Corley Cycles

Chris McNamara Team Corley Cycles

Karl Freeman Team Corley Cycles

Martin Freeman Team Corley Cycles

Simon Wilson Arctic – Premier Racing Team

Richard Hepworth Arctic – Premier Racing Team

Jody Crawforth Arctic – Premier Racing Team

James Dobbin Arctic – Premier Racing Team

Rob Orr www.cyclingbargains.com – Infinis – Metaltek

Raphael Deinhart www.cyclingbargains.com – Infinis – Metaltek

Carl Dyson www.cyclingbargains.com – Infinis – Metaltek

Will Fox www.cyclingbargains.com – Infinis – Metaltek

David Clarke Pendragon – Kalas

George Richardson Pendragon – Kalas

Douglas Dewey Pendragon – Kalas

Jack Adams Pendragon – Kalas

James Williams Pendragon – Kalas

Tom Collier Pendragon – Kalas

Dexter Gardias Geoff Thomas Foundation

Samuel Parker Geoff Thomas Foundation

Flavio Zappi Geoff Thomas Foundation

Freddy Johansson Cyclesport.SE-Magnus Maximus Coffee.com

Daniel Patten Cyclesport.SE-Magnus Maximus Coffee.com

Richard Wilkinson Sportsbeans – Wilier

Marcin Bialoblocki Sportsbeans – Wilier

Will Bjergfelt Sportsbeans – Wilier

Bradley Johnston Planet X RT

Mark Lovatt Planet X RT

Michael Nicolson Dooleys Race Team

Graham McGarrity Dooleys Race Team

Stuart McGregor Dooleys Race Team

Paul Rennie Dooleys Race Team

Wayne Coombs VC Montpellier

Jon Pain VC Montpellier

Paul Standen VC Montpellier

Mark Thwaites Team ASSOS

Yanto Barker Lecol – Colnago

Alastair Kay York Cycleworks

Mike Cuming Raleigh Avanti

David Griffiths Paramount CRT

Christian Prior www.agiskoviner.com

Jimmy Froggatt Wills Wheels CC

Stephen Rudkin FP Mailing Cycling Team

Gavin Evans Team Sportscover

Collin Humphrey Team Sportscover

Kevin Barclay Endura RT

James McCallum Endura RT

Duncan Urquhart Endura RT

Callum Wilkinson Endura RT

Scott Macrae Endura RT

Gordon Murdoch Endura RT

David Lines Endura RT

Gary Hand Endura RT

Dave Coulson Sabbath Claytan

Daffyd Dylan Sabbath Claytan

Kieran Friend Sabbath Claytan

Richard Sykes-Popham Sabbath Claytan

RELATED LINKS

2008 Bikeline Two Day reports

Photo gallery: Bikeline Two Day 2008. By Andy Jones

Dean Downing wins Bikeline overall

Stage 2: Oliphant takes the honours

Stage 1: Wilkinson wins the time trial

The Big Preview: Bikeline Two-Day