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