NEWTON PULLS OUT OF NATIONAL CHAMPS

Chris Newton has withdrawn from Sunday?s National Championships in order to focus fully on his track training.

The Rapha-Condor-Recycling rider is with the bulk of the endurance track squad training in Manchester this week.

Rapha?s manager John Herety said: ?His track training is going really well and he wants to continue with that.

?He feels he wouldn?t be able to do the Nationals justice, so out of his respect for the race, he?s decided to withdraw.

?He?s been fourth a couple of times before and he doesn?t want to go there and do it half-heartedly.?

Newton qualified his place in the Olympics by winning the World Cup title in the points race competition.

DOWNING WILL BE FIT FOR NATIONALS

Rapha?s assault on the National Championships on Sunday will now be led by Kristian House and Dean Downing.

Downing pulled out of the GP of Wales on Sunday when his back locked up. ?He was almost in tears on the Tumble, and I told him to stop,? said John Herety.

?He?s got this recurring back problem and every now and then it causes him trouble. He?ll be on the start line for the Nationals, though.?

Downing has been treated by his chiropractor, the former rider Simeon Hempsall.

Herety added that Rapha had been feeling the effects of a long trip to Canada to race in the Tour de Beauce.

?It was not ideal because we did the Smithfield Nocturne then flew out and were straight into the race. It was also very hot and humid, although it got cooler as the week went on,? he said.

?It was a nice event, I?d definitely put it on my list of races to do next year. I think we?d have had someone on the podium if we?d gone out a bit earlier, or if the weather had been the other way round.

?Although it was quite expensive, there?s a heck of a lot of interest in Rapha in north America so it?s well worth doing.?

HALFORDS BIKEHUT TO SPONSOR RAS DE CYMRU

Halfords Bikehut extended its commitment to cycling by announcing it will be the title sponsor of the Ras de Cymru.

The Welsh event runs from July 2 to 6.

Event organiser, Simon Bray said: ?The University of Wales Newport is so pleased to be working in partnership with such a high-profile company as Halfords Bikehut.

The additional support will help raise the profile of the event across the UK and onto the continent.

I am hopeful the partnership will grow in future years to allow the event to expand to be a true tour of South Wales, with it running from the west coast of Wales to a finish in Newport.?

Neil Smith, head of trading for Halfords Bikehut, said: ?We are delighted to be involved with Simon and the rest of the team at Ras de Cymru and University of Wales and are pleased we could help to ensure the event goes ahead.

As sponsors of the GB Cycling Team, and Team Halfords Bikehut, we are committed to supporting cycle sport. We wish all of the riders well in what should be an exciting event.?

Nicole Cooke and Emma Pooley are both scheduled to ride in the event.

The 80 competitors will ride six stage races in five days and cover more than 260 miles. They will have to tackle some of the most challenging mountain top climbs in South Wales including Storey Arms and Llangynidr Mountain.

Stages

July 2: Stage 1, Llangybi ? Llanhennock, four-mile time trial

July 3: Stage 2, Abergavenny, 40 miles

Stage 3 Abergavenny, 15-mile team time trial

July 4: Stage 4, Usk, 68 miles

July 5: Stage 5, Storey Arms-Brecon-Defynnog, 60 miles

July 6: Stage 6, Abergavenny-Three Cocks-Llangynidr, 60 miles

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