On Thursday a group of us from St Neots Cycling Club made the annual pilgrimage to Peterborough to watch the 6th leg of the Halfords Tour Series. Peterborough has been a regular fixture of the Tour Series since it started 4 years ago.
Work commitments meant we missed the women’s race, but we were in time for the men’s. Already the crowds were bigger than previous years. The sun was out and warm, the track clear and dry. It looked like we would be treated to an evening of fast noisy racing. It certainly couldn’t be more different to watching the Rutland-Melton Cicle Classic a month before.
We browsed the circuit before the racing started. With just three corners, the Peterborough circuit is designed for speed; two straight edges through the pedestrianised city centre linked by the long broad curve of Bourges Boulevard.
Most of the riders were opting to ride the course to warm-up. Raleigh on the other hand, had decided to set up their rollers on the pavement, head phones on and barely breaking a sweat.
We headed to the start line and watched the field line-up. This year’s series has seen the dominance of Rapha-Condor-Sharp broken for the first time. Raleigh, Endura and Team UK Youth have all entered strong teams and this evening they were fielding some of their strongest riders including former national road champions, grand-tour riders and a Paris-Roubaix winner. The cream of the UK’s domestic talent was out in force. The roster was enough to feel pity for the smaller teams and guest teams from Milton Keynes, Corley Cycles and Twenty3c.
The racing started and the pace was immediately high with the bunch stretching out across the tarmac. Within a few laps riders were dropping off the back while at the front Kristian House (Rapha) and Graham Briggs (Raleigh) launched repeated attacks off the front only to be reeled in by powerful turns from Magnus Backstedt (UK Youth).
Eventually three riders established a breakaway, Daniel Holloway (Raleigh), Scott Thwaites (Endura) and Matt Cronshaw, (Node4 – Giordana). They were joined by Ed Clancy (Rapha-Condor), Zak Dempster (Endura) and Bernard Sulzberger (Raleigh) to form a powerful, winning, sextet. Being the sole Rapha rider in the break Ed Clancy took things easy leaving Raleigh and Endura to drive the group along. With the freshest legs in the break, it was no surprise the Olympic pursuiter led the final sprint from the front to take victory in Peterborough.
An excellent evening’s racing which just gets better and bigger every year, let’s hope the Tour Series returns to Peterborough for 2013!