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British Cycling Circuit Series & WCRA final - NE
Warwick, Great Britain, September 17, 2006
It's Warrick at Warwick
By Gerry McManus in Warwick
Warrick Spence (London Dynamo) won his second event in the British Cycling Circuit Series when he crossed the finish line first in the town centre at Warwick in the UK on Sunday.
Spence crossed the line 30 seconds clear of James Taylor (Plowman Craven RT) but it should have been a battle between him and Kristian House (Recycling.co.uk). New Zealander Spence was forced to go it alone for the last few laps when his breakaway companion Kristian House (Recycling.co.uk) had two dramatic mishaps. First House broke his crank with two laps to go then took a tumble on the back of the circuit as he tried to regain his lost advantage after a bike change. Spence had helped House by pushing him along to the pit area where House told him to go on or neither one of them would win the race. Spence went on to hold on to his narrow advantage and took the chequered flag first.
The blistering pace saw the riders strung out on lap one. On lap two House attacked just as Taylor swung over after he had completed a long turn on the front on the drag up towards the finish area. In a moment of hesitation by the rest of the field, House went clear and put the hammer down. Only Spence had thought that this was a dangerous move with 50 minutes of racing still to go and he took off in hot pursuit. And that was the story for a long while.
Behind in the main field Rob Hayles (Team KLR) was a marked man. Malcolm Elliott (Plowman Craven RT) would have had to be surgically removed from his wheel for most of the race such was his intent not to let the overall series victory slip away from him. Elliott's points total was virtually unbeatable but he wasn't taking any chances.
Hayles rode tempo on the front with the lead fluctuating between 20 and 30 seconds. Ian Wilkinson (Science in Sport) decided to take the initiative and took off after Hayles had decided enough was enough and put the brakes on. Wilkinson's, team mate Phil Dixon and Dave Collins (Scott UK) hit the front and the dynamic duo's days looked numbered.
The chase broke up when Collins and Dan Booth (Magura) slipped away. Two laps later Wilkinson and Taylor had bridged the gap. The next chasing group behind was starting to look familiar with Hayles leading Elliott.
Taylor was giving his all on the front chase group but it was all too late. House and Spence had spent many laps mastering the speed through the tight corners to their advantage.
The chasers inevitably passed House and National British Criterium champion Taylor beat Wilkinson in the sprint for second as they finally wore down Collins who managed fourth despite his efforts in an MTB race on the Saturday. Remarkably House still came home in sixth.
Malcolm Elliott finished safely in the main field and took the generous applause from the knowledgeable crowd as winner of the series overall.
"I waited for Kristian when he broke his crank," said Spence. "But he was yelling ‘what the hell are you doing, you have got this one won' and then I thought he could change his bike around the corner in the pits. So I went into the red and I really suffered on those last two laps."
"When Kristian attacked I was sitting back in about the sixth wheel seeing who was going to react," continued the 36-year-old London resident. "We weren't going as fast as I thought we could. I powered around the bottom corner and attacked up the hill. I wasn't looking forward to the sprint as I knew it would be all about positioning so when he lost his crank it was quite fortunate. The Guildford circuit was quite similar in a way where you could easily overcook it on a corner."
House was philosophical about the whole thing. "I cracked my crank and it came off down the back straight and I had to ride a quarter of a lap with one leg. I got a bike change but with two laps to go you don't get a lap out and for some reason I came off on one of the corners. Maybe it's because it was a different bike and I wasn't used to it and I just slid off. That's bike racing and I can't really complain."
House now has a small break before the Canterbury cyclist goes to Australia for the Tour of Tasmania.
Hayles wasn't particularly happy at the end of the race. "Malcolm (Elliott) proved me wrong," said Hayles: "Because I thought there was no way he was going to let me take him out of the back of the race and he did. Apart from one of the other events that was the worst race of the series. There was only two who wanted to race. They all just let me sit on the front and I rode tempo just to leave the leaders out there a bit and stuck the breaks on and the SIS lads took over. I didn't have the legs to go with the moves right from the start. I knew I had to win to stand a chance in the series and I wanted to race."
British fans will have another chance to see Hayles as he takes to the boards for the British Track Championships next month.
Webb nets the prize money
Lorna Webb (KSV Deerlijk – Gaverzicht) won the battle of Warwick in the ladies race on Sunday but not the war. Webb crossed the line first in the WCRA championship event to win the race but second placed Lizzie Armistead (Raleigh ERV) was the first WCRA accredited rider and so took home the championship trophy.
The action came thick and fast as the sun shone brightly on the 800m circuit with Webb going for it from the gun. The pace was rapid and a crash on the first lap left many riders out of contention in the blistering pace. Webb had gone clear with Armistead and Sara Burling (CC Giro) chasing. Armistead kept the pressure on and Burling dropped behind. Armistead found more assistance when she was joined by Michelle Bergstrand (Raleigh ERV) and Louise Mahe (Sutton Cycling Club/De Ver Cycles)
17-year-old Armistead broke clear from her temporary companions and joined forces with Webb. The leading duo did just enough to stay clear in the closing stages. Second year junior Armistead was no match for the British ladies road race silver medallist as she again showed the sprint that won her the Essex Giro road race in August.
Armistead explained how her race went: "It was hard from the beginning when Louise Mahe attacked straight from the line and I had got stuck behind two riders and I had to chase to get up to her. There was a crash on the third corner which didn't help. I got together with Mahe and Bergstrand but we dropped Mahe then I dropped Bergstrand."
There was a little confusion when they caught the remains of the bunch with one lap to go. "Thinking back I should have used that to my advantage," continued the talented junior from Otley in West Yorkshire: "I should have attacked when we were stalled by the other riders but I didn't think of it at the time. Next I am going to ride the senior national track championships next month and then it's winter training."
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Images by Gerry McManus/www.gerrymcmanus.co.uk