Kristian House starts the Tour of Blackpool on Sunday with one difference to the usual Rapha kit. He will be trading in the standard issue black jersey for a white version with red and blue stripes.
The newly-crowned national champion pulled off the ride of his life in Abergavenny to beat Dan Lloyd and Peter Kennaugh to the gold medal and win the right to wear the coveted jersey.
House draws the line at the all-white kit and bike combination of team-mate Dean Downing but will be calling on the circuit race champion for the loan of a top. “I might have to borrow one of Dean Downing’s champion’s jerseys at the weekend because Rapha are still doing the design,” he said.
House allowed himself a little celebration with Tom Southam and Darren Lapthorne on Sunday night but admitted they were too exhausted to party into the night. “We went out and had a bit of food in Bristol. We didn’t stay out mega-late but I didn’t sleep much that night. I kept thinking about the race: just excited and real happy.”
Wednesday evening saw the 29 year old back in action at the Rochdale GP where his fine run of form continued. Team-mate Chris Newton led House home for a Rapha-Condor one-two and Newton’s fourth consecutive win in the event.
Then it was time for a training run with a difference with Rob Partridge, Dan Craven and Geraint Thomas. “Rob wore his Welsh jersey, Craven wore his African champs one, and they made me wear mine. We call it the ‘national chumps ride’. Geraint didn’t have his Olympic medal on, but he was allowed in,” said House.
House heads for Blackpool hoping to carry on the good run and sitting just that bit taller in the saddle with his new status. “It finally hit me today that I was national champ when I saw my reflection in a shop window,” he said.
TOUR OF BLACKPOOL
Sunday, July 5
Distance: 149km, 93 miles
Start: 0900, Solaris Centre, South Promenade, Blackpool
1. Russell Downing (Pinarello)
2. Ian Stannard (Landbouwkrediet)
3. Rob Hayles (Halfords Bikehut)
2008 Russell Downing
2007 Tony Gibb
HOW I WON
By 2008 winner Russell Downing
“It rained on and off throughout and absolutely hammered it down on the run in to the finish, but it was a good race and everybody got stuck in and raced positively.
“It looked like they were going to bring us [Downing and Ian Wilkinson] back and we worked really hard through the little corners and the time gap went up to 30 seconds and then 58 and finally over a minute on the line.”
By organiser Ivor Armstrong
“The hardest thing about the race will be the absolute speed of it. There are no hills to climb, so it’ll be very fast.”
Last year’s weather was atrocious with wind and driving rain and “if there is a wind [again] this time it’ll push the riders around a bit, but with a rolling-road closure they should be able to form echelons. If it is windy, it will make a difference”.
CURRENT PREMIER CALENDAR STANDINGS
1. Russell Downing (CandiTV Marshalls Pasta) 623
2. Ian Wilkinson (Halfords Bikehut) 464
3. Marcin Bialoblocki (Sports Beans) 279
4. Andy Tennant (Halfords Bikehut) 239
5. Mark McNally (Halfords Bikehut) 212
6. Kristian House (Rapha Condor) 189
7. Peter Williams (CandiTV Marshalls Pasta) 183
8. Simon Gaywood (Corley Cycles) 182
9. Chris Newton (Rapha Condor) 180
10. Rob Partridge (Halfords Bikehut) 173
With just four rounds of the Premier Calendar remaining (including the Tour of Blackpool), Russell Downing is flexing his muscles at the top of the standings.
If he wins, or places on the podium, it will be hard to see anyone getting the better of him this year.
Ian Wilkinson is looking increasingly comfortable in second place, whilst the battle for third is heating up with several riders snapping at the heels of Marcin Bialoblocki.
East Yorkshire Classic, July 26
Tour of Pendle, August 9
Richmond Grand Prix, August 23
SUPER TEAM CHALLENGE
Judge Lionel Birnie has taken it upon himself to painstakingly go through every single qualifying event in CW’s very own team British team award and check the points awarded so far.
These have been ratified by an independent auditor – well, one of us, actually – and brought bang up to date with the latest qualifying rounds, the National Championships road race and Rochdale GP. Check out the full list here.
Lo and behold, Halfords has finally prised a workable gap ahead of CandiTV. Two events in Blackpool this weekend could see the big boys of Halfords pulling clear. Sunday’s flat Premier Calendar and Friday’s seafront crit will suit them better than CandiTV.
Rapha has put on a spurt after great performances in the last two races but still have a long way to go.
CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta 176
Rapha Condor 117
Sports Beans 30
Le Col 10
Team 100% ME 10
Corley Cycles 6