At last. Winter is over, clocks go forward, daffodils are out and British road racing gets serious with the opening round of the Premier Calendar, the Tour of the Reservoir.


The eight-race series promises to be the most open for several years. Russell Downing won four out of the ten rounds in 2009 to dominate proceedings for the second year running. With the Yorkshireman now plying his trade for Sky on the Continent, we should see some new blood coming to the head of affairs.



And some new teams. The winter transfer merry-go-round produced plenty of interesting moves and Sunday provides the first real opportunity to put the pre-season training into practice on home roads.



Dan Fleeman takes his first stab at Premier Calendar racing at the head of the Raleigh squad. Former Rapha man Simon Richardson lines up for Sigma. Pendragon field former solo operator Yanto Barker and double Tour of Libya stage winner Chris Opie. Orbea’s Marcel Six took a fine win at the weekend in the Wally Gimber Trophy in Kent. Marcin Bialoblocki (Wilier) is always a threat.



But for strength in depth, look no further than Endura. Ian Wilkinson, Alex Blain and Jack Bauer all impressed in the Tour of Murcia. And Rob Partridge was on the podium at the Reservoir last year. If one of that quartet is not in with a shout at the finish on Sunday, manager Rob Hayles will be asking questions.

Endura, Tour du Haut Var 2010, stage 2

Endura: strength in depth

DOWNING SENIOR TOURS TAIWAN

Russell Downing may be busy elsewhere but older brother Dean is looking good after a stage win at the Tour of Taiwan. The 35 year old is better known as a crit specialist these days, so winning the sprint at the end of 160kms of hilly racing was a pleasant surprise for the Rapha rider.



“We went in to get some early fitness and we got some results out of it as well,” said Downing of the seven-day race. “We got better as a unit. That is what we got out of the trip: more confidence working as a team. We will take that into the first Premier and see how we do on home soil.”



Communication is key with race radios now banned. Taiwan proved to be useful test for the Rapha team, according to Downing. “It makes it good for the forthcoming season. We have done it in a big race, we have coped alright without the radios. Matt Cronshaw is only 21 so he has probably never raced without them.”



The Downing brothers have some history in the Tour of the Reservoir: Russell won in 2008, Dean in 2007. Look out for Deano again this year.

Dean Downing on the front, Clayton Velo Spring Classic 2010

Deano strings them out

PREMIER CALENDAR ROAD RACE SERIES

Sun Mar 28: Tour of the Reservoir, Hexham, Co. Durham

Sat April 3-5: Tour Doon Hame, Dumfries, Scotland

Sun May 9: Abstraction Lincoln GP, Lincolnshire

Sun May 30: Dumfries BikeFest GP, Dumfries, Scotland

Sun June 6: Ryedale GP, Helmsley, North Yorkshire

Sun June 13: Beaumont Trophy, Ponteland, Northumberland

Sun July 18: East Yorkshire Classic, Beverley, East Yorkshire

Sun Aug 1: Richmond GP, Richmond, North Yorkshire

TOUR OF THE RESERVOIR

Sunday, March 28

Distance 140km (87 miles)

Start 10:30

Circuit Edmundbyers, Eddis Bridge, Barley Hill, Ruffside

HQ Blanchland Sports Hall, Blanchland

Tour of Reservoir map

RECENT WINNERS

2009 Andy Tennant

2008 Russell Downing

2007 Dean Downing

2006 Ben Greenwood

Other recent winners include John Tanner, Mark Lovatt and Chris Newton.



LAST YEAR

1. Andy Tennant (Halfords Bikehut)

2. Russell Downing (CandiTV-Pinarello)

3. Rob Partridge (Halfords Bikehut)



HOW I WON…

2009 champion Andy Tennant

“Unfortunately Dale [Appleby] punctured so I was on my own. It would have been better if there had been two of us, but it worked out in my favour. I had a few seconds on the chasers and looked back, I knew if I got to the top of the small climb just before the last village I could descend quickly to the finish.”

Andy Tennant, Motorpoints Marshalls Pasta team 2010

Tennant super: 2009 winner

SUPER TEAM CHALLENGE

Yes, folks, Cycling Weekly’s very own team competition is back for the third year running and promises to be a humdinger. With one-man point-scoring machine Russ Downing out of the equation, the competition is wide open.



Last year’s battle royal between Halfords and CandiTV eventually swung the way of Downing’s team but the Tour Series winners Halfords put up a spirited fight. Downing, Malcolm Elliott and the boys were “overwhelmed” at the glittering award ceremony at the Cycle Show as they received their prize – a round of coffee and cakes. What do you mean, ‘skinflints’? Have you seen the price of coffee and cakes at Earls Court?



Now with many of the former Halfords riders joining the bulk of the CandiTV boys in the Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta squad, they have to be the team to beat. But Rapha-Condor-Sharp are looking stronger than ever, with five wins from five different riders already in the bag.



Endura complete the ‘big three’ teams. Foreign imports Alex Blain and Jack Bauer are quality riders. With Ian Wilkinson and Rob Hayles in the mix, the Scottish-based outfit will be major players this year.



And Raleigh will want to make that a ‘big four’ in their first year back in the bunch. Part-timers Wilier, Pendragon and Sigma aim to shake up the established order.



Let’s plunge headlong into the Reservoir. Sunday’s cycling equivalent of Michael Phelps scores 14 points, while Eric the Eel gets four.

 

Super Team Points

1st: 14pts

2nd: 10pts

3rd: 8pts

4th: 6pts

5th: 4pts



BRUCIE BONUS

The panel of experts here at CW Towers – all named Bruce, spookily – will award an extra five points to the man of the race, for selfless team-work, heroic solo breaks or downright bad luck. The decision of the Bruces is final. So there.

CandiTV Super Team winners

Pleased as punch: 2009 winners CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta

Tour of the Reservoir 2010: Start list

No Name Race No Cat Place Time


1 Elliott M Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta E

2 Bibby I Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta E

3 Davis L Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta 1

4 McAvoy J Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta 2

5 Sampson J Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta 1

6 Williams P Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta E

7 Roche A Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta 1

8 Partridge R Endura Racing E

9 Wilkinson I Endura Racing E

10 Blain A Endura Racing E

11 Moss J Endura Racing E

12 Thwaites S Endura Racing 1

13 Bauer J Endura Racing E

14 Oliphant E Endura Racing E

15 McCallum J Endura Racing E

16 Stephens M Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

17 Richardson S Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

18 Murray T Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

19 Adams S Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

20 Gilham K Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

21 Williamson J Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

22 Sybrandy W Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

23 Montgomerie G Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

24 Last T Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

25 Duguid D Sigma Sport – Specialized Cycling Team E

26 Barker Y Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago E

27 Clarke D Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago E

28 Munro C Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago E

29 Opie C Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago E

30 Lampier S Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago E

31 Tanguy R Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago E

32 Frend K Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago 1

33 Richardson G Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago 1

34 Deinhart R CyclePremier.com – Metaltek Professional CRT E

35 Finn A CyclePremier.com – Metaltek Professional CRT E

36 Hepworth R CyclePremier.com – Metaltek Professional CRT E

37 Magnier A CyclePremier.com – Metaltek Professional CRT E

38 Millard J CyclePremier.com – Metaltek Professional CRT E

39 Price B CyclePremier.com – Metaltek Professional CRT E

40 Smail R CyclePremier.com – Metaltek Professional CRT 1

41 Wilson S CyclePremier.com – Metaltek Professional CRT E

42 Evans G Team Sportcover 1

43 Brown A Team Sportcover 1

44 Tanner J Team Sportcover E

45 Wetterhall A Team Sprocket ProCycling E

46 Gustavsson N Team Sprocket ProCycling E

47 Larsen R Team Sprocket ProCycling E

48 Johansson F Team Sprocket ProCycling E

49 Rudenstam F Team Sprocket ProCycling E

50 Perrett J Team Sprocket ProCycling E

51 Hampton R Team Sprocket ProCycling E

52 Anderson J Team Sprocket ProCycling E

53 Bryne D Herbalife/Wheelbase E

54 Puller J Herbalife/Wheelbase 1

55 Henry S Herbalife/Wheelbase 1

56 Bott R Herbalife/Wheelbase 1

57 Craven L Herbalife/Wheelbase 2

58 Windsor D Rapha Condor Sharp E

59 Downing D Rapha Condor Sharp E

60 Cronshaw M Rapha Condor Sharp E

61 Greenwood B Rapha Condor Sharp E

62 Briggs G Rapha Condor Sharp E

63 Gaywood S Team Corley/Cycles E

64 Wordsworth M Team Corley/Cycles 1

65 Cartland R Team Corley/Cycles E

66 McNamara C Team Corley/Cycles E

67 Cox A Team Corley/Cycles 1

68 Fleeman D Raleigh E

69 Barras T Raleigh E

70 Appleby D Raleigh E

71 Steawart J Raleigh E

72 Shand D Raleigh 1

73 Holohan L Raleigh E

74 Smith P Raleigh E

75 Rammler J Raleigh E

76 Downs K Orbea-For Goodness Shakes 1

77 Kogan D Orbea-For Goodness Shakes 1

78 Shannon D Orbea-For Goodness Shakes 1

79 Whatling J Orbea-For Goodness Shakes 1

80 Ewings M Orbea-For Goodness Shakes 1

81 Six M Orbea-For Goodness Shakes E

82 Norris A Orbea-For Goodness Shakes E

83 Bialoblocki M Willier/Bigmaggys.com/Prendas Cycloismo E

84 Bjergfelt W Willier/Bigmaggys.com/Prendas Cycloismo E

85 Kipling M MTS Cyclesport E

86 Rodman M WWW.SIS.Com Science in Sport E

87 Coutts A Giant Asia RT E

88 McLean D Team Frezza – Pasta Montegrappa E

89 Hewwitt G Team Frezza – Pasta Montegrappa E

90 Heaton-Armstrong J Cycles Dauphin 1

91 Mason R Cycles Dauphin E

92 Tunnicliffe L Cycles Dauphin 1

93 Skipper J Cycles Dauphin E

94 Kay A York Cycleworks 1

95 Ash C ActivCycle – Fentimans RT 1

96 Sturman J ActivCycle – Fentimans RT 1

97 Stockdale B Team Qoroz (U23) 1

98 Ullmer M Team Qoroz (U23) 1

99 Wilson H Team Qoroz (U23) 1

100 Staite D Python RT 1

101 Yetman L Team Qoroz (U23) (Reserve) 2

102 Coulson D Team Frezza – Pasta Montegrappa (Reserve) 1

103 Gronlund G Team Frezza – Pasta Montegrappa (Reserve) 1

104 Jefferies PL Team Frezza – Pasta Montegrappa (Reserve) 1

105 Baxter S Adept Precision RT (Reserve) 1

106 Mark C Adept Precision RT (Reserve) 2

107 Nicholson M WWW.Dooley/Cycles.co.uk (Reserve) 1

108 Hasting A Finchley RT (Reserve) 1

109 Thomas I Parmount (Reserve) 1

110 Hoy J Felt – Colbornes RT (Reserve) E

 

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