Perfs Pedal race ushers in the British racing season

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Perfs Pedal race ushers in the British racing season

The Tour Down Under? All well and good. The Tour of Gabon? It's a world away. The season only really begins when the British scene gets underway with the Perfs Pedal race.

Sunday sees the 46th running of the traditional domestic curtain-raiser, and the Southern race has a capacity 80-man field lined up to add their names to a palmares that includes Sean Yates, Chris Newton and Alex Dowsett.

2008 winner James Stewart is one of the favourites for the race, alongside teammate and former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, making a return to racing.

"I've been focusing on the Perfs Pedal race and am all fired up for it. I did a few training camps in Spain in December and January," Stewart said.

A junior time-trial champion in his youth, Stewart has transferred to Nigel Mansell and Magnus Backstedt's UK Youth team from Raleigh for 2011.

"It comes across as a very professional set-up; I've already learned an unbelievable amount from someone like Magnus, and I only met him last Saturday," he said.

Pendragon leader Yanto Barker and Oli Beckingsale (Endura) are also serious contenders for the 46-mile race.

There has been a late course change, due to deterioration of the road surface on the descent of Southwick Hill, using the climb of Lodge Hill.

"It's one of the problems with early season races; it's a difficult enough course," said organiser Mick Waite."I'd prefer it to be on the other, flatter course; I can sprint, but I'm not fast uphill. It might be suited to Yanto [Barker]," Stewart said. 

Racing starts at 11am on Sunday; neutralized start and event HQ is the D Day Memorial Hall in Southwick (PO17 6ED).

James Stewart Perfs 2008

Stewart takes the Perfs Pedal win in 2008

Doull and Papworth take silver in Copenhagen

The British duo of Owain Doull and Josua Papworth have finished second overall at the Copenhagen Six Day U23 UIV Talents Cup.

Doull explained, "We were really fighting the whole time, and while we were the fastest in the sprints, the Danes had a little too much strength in depth for us."

The Brits, both members of the Olympic Development Programme, won the opening day's racing on Sunday and strong tactical riding during the week meant they started Friday's final stage in second place.

The teenage pair briefly regained the lead on the last night, only to lose both a lap and their advantage later on, as the home pairing of Christian Kreutzfeldt and Lasse Norman Hansen ultimately proved too strong.

Doull described Copenhagen as a worthwhile preparation in the build-up to the summer's world track championships.

Their success in Denmark follows compatriots' Dan McLay and Tom Moses's second place in Berlin a fortnight ago.

Brits fly the flag in Qatar

Ten different British riders took part in this week's Tour of Qatar, and there were a few notable performances.

Aside from Roger Hammond and Jeremy Hunt's strong fifth and sixth overall finishes, there were encouraging performances from youngsters Alex Dowsett and Andrew Fenn. In his first race in Sky colours, Dowsett placed sixth in the prologue.

Meanwhile, AN Post debutant and former Academy rider Fenn got into a lengthy six-rider breakaway on the third stage along with Sky's Russell Downing, ultimately finishing 52nd overall.

Downing also claimed eighth on the race's last stage earlier today.

Endura start solidly solid at the Tour of Med

While the other half of the team takes on an Indian adventure, British team Endura Racing are in action at the Tour of the Med this week.

They made a solid start in Wednesday's 120km opening stage. Alexandre Blain was the best placed Endura rider, finishing in 19th place, as an early breakaway made it to the finish.

The first Brit home was Rob Partridge who finished 69th. All of the team finished safely in the main bunch, three seconds down on winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).

Yesterday, Maarten De Jonge was the team's best placed rider, finishing 20th in a bunch sprint won by Romain Feillu, who became the new race leader this afternoon.

Rapha-Condor-Sharp prepares for South African challenge

Team Rapha Condor Sharp will kick off its season next week at the Tour of South Africa. The team is sending a group of six riders to the eight-day stage race with Namibian rider Dan Craven as team leader.

They are approaching the race with high hopes for Craven. "Our objectives for the race are two-fold," team manager John Herety has said. "We have a very realistic chance of a stage win or top ten on GC with Dan Craven. We also want to come out of the race with some solid unhampered preparation for what is in effect the core of our stage race team for the season."

Craven is a previous winner of the UCI Africa tour. He has already raced this year in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon, where he finished seventh in the GC and won the King of the Mountains competition.

He will be supported by Graham Briggs, Zak Dempster, Kristian House, Ben Greenwood and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke.

The Tour of South Africa starts in Pretoria on February 18. It features three hilly stages, which will in all likelihood decide the general classification. "Stages four, five and six all include a number of long climbs and I foresee the climbers coming to the fore and ripping things apart," Craven predicts.

The tour finishes with a circuit race in Paarl on February 26.

2011 Braveheart recipients announced

The Braveheart Fund has selected the twelve riders and two clubs that it will support in 2011.

Seven of the riders selected represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games last year, with many targeting an improved performance at the 2014 Games in Glasgow.

The Braveheart Fund is also supporting the Dynamo Falkirk and ERC cycling clubs. This will enable them to receive support in purchasing bikes and equipment for their members.

The riders supported this year are as follows: Andrew Fenn (Road), Robert Hassan (Road), Kenta Gallagher (MTB), Grant Ferguson (MTB), Callum Skinner (Track), John Paul (Track), Jennifer Davis (Track), Charline Joiner (Track), Kevin Stewart (Track) and Chris Pritchard (Track).

18 year old road-riders James Smith and Matthew Hamilton will also be supported by the fund to spend a season racing in Belgium.

The Braveheart Fund was established in 2003 to support Scottish cyclists.

Kent Cycles back MotoGP man Danny Webb

Danny Webb, a 19 year-old British MotoGP rider, is to be supported by Kent Cycles RC in his general training towards this year's 125cc MotoGP World Championship.

Danny is well-known in the world of MotoGP, with his debut at the Junior World Championships at the age of only 15, and is now is a member of the India-based Mahindra Racing team as their lead and development rider.

He is using cycling as a means to increase his personal fitness. The club is providing Danny with equipment so that he can maintain his fitness regime while traveling around the world during his racing calendar.

Fitness is an important part of MotoGP as it affects a rider's ability to maneuver on long races and cycling is often seen as a good means of maintaining fitness and core muscles.

The partnership should mean a raised awareness of local cycling amongst the supporters of the Kent motorcyclist, as well as providing Danny with an effective outlet for his training.

Team Bglobal launches for 2011

TeamBglobal, a new cycling team based in the North West, was launched last Saturday.

They are based at the headquarters of their major sponsor, Bglobal PLC, an energy company in East Lancashire.

Looking toward 2011 and 2012 the team is increasing to seven riders and is currently training in Majorca before targeting the major events in the UK and Ireland from late February onward.

The line-up consists of Chris Sherriffs, Adrian Lawrence, Shane O'Neil, Stephen Leigh, Nick Shaughnessy, Mark Burtons and Craig Battersby.

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