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East Midlands International CiCLE Classic - 1.2
Great Britain , April 26, 2009
Wilkinson finally wins the big one
Ian Wilkinson (Team Halfords-Bike Hut) took the biggest win of his road racing career when he out-sprinted Michael Berling (Glud & Marstrand Horsens) in the final 200 metres of the 160km Rutland to Melton CiCLE Classic race on Sunday. Wilkinson finished second behind Malcolm Elliott (Pinarello CandiTV) in 2007 but this time he crossed the finish line first with his arms aloft on a spectator-packed finishing straight.
"This is the best win of my career," said Wilkinson grinning ear to ear. "We were working steadily when the two of us got clear which helped me recover and I was feeling really good. We came down the hill and I just teed up the sprint and the legs were there. I was full beam towards the line with memories of Malcolm [Elliott] beating me on the line two years ago and I wasn't going to let that happen this time.
"I had to lead out because I haven't got a jump quick enough to come around the final corner in second place," said the 30-year-old Wilkinson. "What a race, it was absolutely superb. I am full-time on the bike this year and having time for rest and recovery and not being injured and ill should make a difference. I have a few kilos to shift but it would be nice to get a ride in the Tours of Ireland and Britain and get a stage win in those."
The race started in perfect conditions with warm and sunny weather greeting the riders and hundreds of fans who had turned out in Oakham town centre to watch the start. Magnus Backstedt (Team Cyclesport.se/Magnus Maximus Coffee.com) drew generous applause as the 6'4" former Paris-Roubaix winner signed on with his young Swedish team.
There was no slow start this year as riders tried their luck to break clear and form the race winning move. Backstedt, Chris Newton (Rapha Condor), Will Bjerkfelt (Sports Beans-Wilier), Tom Southam (Rapha Condor) and Martyn Irvine (Ireland) were among those who fancied their chances.
It was after an hour of racing that most of the big teams had riders nicely placed in an 11-man group and their lead grew to one minute. Southam had gone clear with Simon Gaywood (Corley Cycles), Mark McNally (Halfords), Pete Williams (Pinarello CandiTV), Yanto Barker (Le Col), Frederick Jernov (Glud & Marstrand Horsens), Ross Adams (BC West Midlands), Graham Briggs (Pinarello CandiTV), Kristian House (Rapha Condor), Darren Lapthorne (Rapha Condor) and Irvine.
Meanwhile, back in the bunch it was Backstedt's young team on the front leading the chase coming up to the first sector of gravel roads which makes the race unique on the UK race calendar. The peloton was greeted with a banner saying ‘Welcome to Hell'.
The course is a mixture of roads over tarmac, gravel and farm tracks that twist around the Leicestershire countryside on energy-sapping undulating terrain. The tough course took its toll on the break as riders slipped off the back to be absorbed by the bunch. Kristian House seemed to take the mountains primes largely uncontested and the Anglo/Texan did enough to win the overall in that competition.
Barker, Lapthorne and Irvine emerged as the leaders as they entered the final third of the race and there were five chasers. It looked like the leading trio would contest the podium places until the chasers were mopped up by the main field and Wilkinson and Gerling jumped across the gap to make a five-strong leading group.
The dust from the roads was mixing with the sweat on the riders faces as the leaders headed toward the finish in Melton with a gap of less than a minute . Irvine locked his back wheel on a tight turn and crashed into the ditch. Amazingly, the Irish Tour of the North winner fought his way back to the leaders with 40 kilometres to go.
Wilkinson had finished second in the bunch sprint in 2007 and was in no mood to suffer the same fate this time and he took off in the closing stages with only Berling able to join him. Wilkinson lead into the final 200m and held on to take his first win in Halfords colours.
Former British international rider Yanto Barker took third in his first year back on the bike with Lapthorne in fourth and Irvine fifth. Russell Downing (Pinarello CandiTV) won the bunch sprint for eighth place.
Magnus Backstedt enjoyed his experience: "It was a good, hard race," said Backstedt. "I was expecting there to be a lot more gravel roads than there were. It is a different race from others in the UK and I can definitely see future potential with it. This is just on the limit of what I am physically capable of doing right now.
"I was unlucky to puncture," Backstedt continued. "But when you run out of legs, you run out of legs. We lost Freddie [Johansson], Dan [Patten] and Gunnar to punctures and crashes early on. It was all about looking after Alex [Wetterhall] after that. The team would love to come over again next year."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Gerry McManus/www.gerrymcmanus.co.uk
1 Ian Wilkinson (GBr) Team Halfords-BikeHut 3.57.22 (39.23 km/h) 2 Michael Berling (Den) Glud & Marstrand Horsens 3 Yanto Barker (GBr) Geoff Thomas-Colnago-Assos 0.54 4 Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor 5 Martyn Irvine (Irl) Ireland National Team 6 Maros Kovac (Svk) Dukla Trencin Merida 1.03 7 Matthew Stephens (GBr) Specialised-SigmaSpt. 8 Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV - Pinarello RT 1.26 9 James Cambridge (GBr) BC East Mids Devel. A 10 Tobyn Horton (Bel) Deschuytter-Abutriek 11 Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV - Pinarello RT 12 Juraj Sagan (Svk) Dukla Trencin Merida 13 Stephen Adams (GBr) Plowman Craven - Madison 14 James Millard (GBr) Plowman Craven - Madison 15 Ross Adams (GBr) BC West Midlands 16 Tom Last (GBr) BC West Midlands 1.27 17 Matt Kipling (GBr) KUK - Kinesis UK 18 Alex Wetterhall (Swe) Cyclesport.se-Magnus Maximus Coffee.com 19 Dion Beukeboom (Ned) Midi Center- Ruiter Wielerteam 20 Grant Bayton (GBr) Sports Beans-Wilier 21 Scott McCrae (GBr) Endura RT 22 Mark McNally (GBr) Team Halfords 23 Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor 1.28 24 Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Glud & Marstrand Horsens 25 Simon Richardson (GBr) Rapha Condor 26 Tom Slagter (Ned) Midi Center- Ruiter Wielerteam 27 Ladislav Fabisovsky (Cze) AC Sparta Praha 1.29 28 Andrew Roche (Irl) Candi TV - Pinarello RT 29 Evan Oliphant (GBr) Plowman Craven - Madison 1.37 30 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Lancs & Yorks 2.20 31 Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha Condor 2.25 32 James Sampson (GBr) Candi TV - Pinarello RT 2.38 33 Martin Ford (GBr) BC West Midlands 34 Mark Wordsworth (GBr) Team Corley Cycles 2.39 35 Simon Gaywood (GBr) Team Corley Cycles 2.59 36 Jack Adams (GBr) Pendragon- Kalas 5.19 37 Dan Duguid (GBr) Specialised-SigmaSpt. 5.21 38 Paul Oldham (GBr) Sports Beans-Wilier 39 Gareth Montgomerie (GBr) Specialised-SigmaSpt. 5.22 40 Frederik Just Jernov (Den) Glud & Marstrand Horsens 5.23 41 Jody Tesselaar (Ned) Midi Center- Ruiter Wielerteam
2008 Ciaran Power (Irl) Pezula 2007 Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Pinarello Racing Team 2006 Robin Sharman (Recycling.co.uk