Three British squads prepared for this weekend?s Girvan Premier Calendar at the Cinturon Tour in Majorca, including the winners of the previous two editions of the Scottish race, Russell Downing and Ian Wilkinson.
CandiTV-Pinarello?s Downing won the third stage at María de la Salut with Wilkinson close behind in third. Wilkinson and his Halfords Bikehut team-mates ? riding under the guise of a GB squad for the Majorcan race ? found the racing to their liking.
?We had some good results out there,? said Wilkinson. ?I got third on one stage. Andy [Tennant] was seventh overall and Rob Partridge was 11th. Andy was a bit unlucky on the last day. It was savage: four laps over a 5km col, and he just lost time on the last lap. But it was a superb race.?
With Tom Murray (Plowman Craven-Madison) taking the sprints competition and only losing out in the mountains classification to eventual race winner Sergio Montoya on the final day, all three British teams held their own in the UCI 2.2-ranked event.
Saturday sees the start of the 40th edition of the Girvan. The 225 miles of racing over three days at Easter can be a shock to the system so early in the season, but Wilkinson feels the Cinturon was ideal preparation.
?It was a nice warm-up for the Girvan,? he said. ?We had high expectations out there and it was only our third race of the year, having only done the Soens and Tour of Reservoir. We are nowhere near race-ready yet, but it will have set us up really well. I think it will have pushed us forward a little bit further.?
Organiser Ian Sinclair has received entries from the all of the UK?s top home-based riders. Chris Newton will be a welcome addition to the Rapha-Condor line-up following a season absent from road racing due to a broken collarbone and preparing for the Olympics. ?We haven?t raced against him for a long time now,? said Wilkinson. ?He has done well in [the Girvan] before, but I have beaten him there before, so it?s not a problem.?
The builder from Barnoldswick in Lancashire sounds confident of his form ? and his team?s: ?It is by no means a one-man show. Ed [Clancy] and Rob [Hayles] are central to the team, but everyone has been pulled in to be capable of winning by themselves. If one of us goes down the road, we are more than happy to let it go.?
Downing and Wilkinson are not the only previous winners of the Girvan entered this weekend. Kristian House (Rapha Condor) took the 2006 edition, while CandiTV-Pinarello veteran Malcolm Elliott?s incredible comeback year in 2004 started with victory at the Girvan and ended with him taking overall in both the Premier Calendar and Elite Circuit Series. Wins at the Trofeo International, Tour of Majorca and two stages of the FDB Milk Ras in between capped a memorable season for the Sheffield man.
Russell Downing leads the 2008 Girvan
|GIRVAN STAGE RACE|
Saturday, April 11
Stage 1: Girvan ? Girvan, 62 miles (starts 11am)
Stage 2: Girvan circuit race, 16.5 miles (starts 6pm)
Sunday, April 12
Stage 3: Girvan – Minnigaff 76 miles (starts 11am)
Monday, April 13
Stage 4: Girvan ? Girvan, 72 miles (starts 11am)
Stages 1, 3 and 4: 15, 10 and 5 seconds to the first three
Stage 2: 10, 6 and 3 seconds to the first three
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2008 Russell Downing
2007 Ian Wilkinson (SIS-Trek)
2006 Kristian House (Recycling.co.uk)
2005 Robin Sharman (Recycling.co.uk)
2004 Malcolm Elliott (Pinarello RT)
2003 John Tanner (Life Repair Group)
2002 Not held ? funding issues
2001 Not held ? foot and mouth crisis
2000 Jon Clay (composite team)
1999 Gordon McCauley (Men?s Health)
1998 Jon Clay (Team Brite)
OTHER NOTABLE WINNERS
1973 Doug Dailey; 1975 Bill Nickson; 1980 Sean Yates; 1981-1982 Tony Doyle; 1983 Dave Lloyd; 1984-1985, 1995 Paul Curran; 1988 Shane Sutton; 1990 Wayne Randle; 1993 Keith Reynolds; 1997 Rob Hayles
By organiser Ian Sinclair of Wallacehill CC
?We have police escorts on all days from Strathclyde and Dumfries & Galloway constabularies. There has been no problem in obtaining this cover and the D&G force have been extra accommodating as they only have two motorcycle cops and they will be on the race along with a car and several points with static police.
?I am very pleased with the quality and size of the entry this year, and can only put this down to the popularity of the event spreading throughout the riders as a place where they can race with confidence at the same time as being kept firmly in control.
?Girvan Victory Park sees all but stage three finish around a closed road circuit which makes it a prime site for viewing, especially Saturday evening when Marshalls – sponsors of CandiTV-Pinarello – will be giving out free hot pasta at the criterium. Stage Three finishes in Minnigaff, just outside Newton Stewart.
?The Girvan became a stage race in 1968, organised by George Miller. It started as a race to give the Scots some stage racing before they headed for the Star Trophy races.
?Our sponsor, Scottish Power Renewables, has backed us for the past four years.?
1 Russell Downing (Pinarello RT)
2 Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor-Recycling) at 2sec
3 Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven) same time
Leader: Russell Downing
1 Russ Downing (Pinarello RT) 38min 54sec
2 Simon Gaywood (Plowman Craven)
3 Graham Briggs (Rapha-Condor-Recycling) both same time
Leader: Russell Downing
1 Rob Partridge (Rapha-Condor-Recycling)
2 Simon Richardson (Plowman Craven)
3 Matt Cronshaw (Kinesis UK)
Leader: Russell Downing
1 Kristian House (Rapha-Condor-Recycling) 3h 07m 44s
2 Liam Holohan (Pearl Izumi) same time
3 Roy Chamberlain (Team Corley Cycles) at 3sec
1 Russ Downing (Pinarello RT) 10h 10m 11s
2 Rob Partridge (Rapha Condor) at 4sec
3 Simon Richardson (Plowman Craven) at 11sec
|CW?S SUPER TEAM CHALLENGE|
Halfords Bikehut lead Cycling Weekly?s Super Team Challenge after Andy Tennant won the Bikeline and Rob Partridge was third.
It?s early days but the Halfords boys have shown great form in their early season outings and will be the ones to watch. But with points for all four stages plus the overall on offer, everything could change come next week.
After one event
1 Halfords Bikehut 22 pts
2 CandiTV-Pinarello 10 pts
3 Sports Beans-Wilier 6 pts
4 Rapha-Condor 4 pts
|MAN OF THE RACE – TOUR OF THE RESERVOIR|
Following much deliberation and no small amount of heated debate among the CW panel, the opening award in the series goes to CandiTV-Pinarello’s Appleby, who punctured when clear with Tennant and waved goodbye to a certain podium position.
For detailed maps, history and the latest start list news, visit the Girvan?s official site
Girvan stage race: Official site