Endura Racing clinched their sixth team win of the 2012 Halfords Tour Series in Colchester, to move into a 14 point lead with two rounds remaining. Individual glory went to Graham Briggs, claiming Team Raleigh – GAC’s first individual Halfords Tour Series win, to add to their first ever team victory in Peterborough last week.
With a maximum of 30 points available from the Woking and Stoke-on-Trent rounds next week, the latter of which includes the additional Tommy Godwin Team Time Trial, Endura look to a racing certainty for overall honours at the fourth time of asking.
Victory for Briggs was made even more special, by doing so in the British Circuit Race Champions jersey, emulating the feat achieved by only Dean Downing and Ed Clancy in the Series’ four year history.
“I had a good ride at Durham, I was fourth there and I was third on Tuesday so to win tonight in the jersey is really special,” said Briggs afterwards.
“I was feeling good tonight and I could see they were coming back to us with a lap to go so I took a breather and was quite confident in the sprint. I maybe celebrated a bit too early, it was close but I got it.
Briggs outsprinted Redditch winner Niklas Gustavsson by the narrowest of margins from a six rider breakaway to take victory, as once again the speed of the racing in The Halfords Tour Series caused the field to split apart.
Behind the leading two was Marcel Six in third, with leading teams Rapha Condor Sharp, Node4 – Giordana Racing and leader’s Endura all represented, by Andy Tennant, Matt Cronshaw and Ian Bibby respectively.
With a large crash in the opening laps on the drying circuit the pace was initially slow, but with wind drying the roads once racing was back underway the speed soon picked up, snaking the peloton out into a long line around Colchester’s town centre.
Breaks came and went, until Bibby pulled clear, being joined by the British champion’s jersey of Briggs. With riders from UK Youth, Rapha Condor Sharp, Node4 – Giordana and Metaltek Scott joining them, the Series’ top five teams were all represented, slackening the pace behind.
The six worked well together to break clear of the main field, establishing that the win would be fought out between them, with Briggs, the fastest finisher from the group coming out on top. It was a close run contest however, with Gustavsson and Six to the outside nearly pipping the Raleigh man to the line.
In their third season of the unique, team based Series, Team Raleigh – GAC have now clinched both their first team and individual wins, keeping them fourth in the standings and firmly in the hunt for the overall Runners Up spot.
“This year, all team members are gelling together and it’s getting better and better each round,” said Briggs. “We’ve won a round, won an individual round and Bernie is holding onto the sprints so it’s working out well.”
Team Raleigh – GAC could only take fourth on the night, as their all-important third placed rider Bernard Sulzberger came in 19th, but the Australian did enough to extend his lead in the Boardman Bikes Sprints competition.
Behind Endura Team UK Youth bounced back into form with second, before Rapha Condor Sharp in third. Going into the final week of racing just five points separates positions two to five in the standings, with all to play for behind the leaders.
As for the overall honours, Endura’s Ian Bibby isn’t counting his chickens just yet.
“We were really aggressive and that’s what we aimed to do. We wanted to go out and attack. I broke away a few times I felt like I could have won but I didn’t sprint too well and I wasn’t too sure whether to commit or wait for the group. Happy we’ve extended our lead and we just need to defend it for the next two rounds. But anything can happen.”
The Halfords Tour Series, Round Nine, Colchester, Provisional Results
Round Nine Individual Result
1) Graham Briggs, Team Raleigh - GAC
2) Niklas Gustavsson, Team UK Youth
3) Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott
4) Andy Tennant, Rapha Condor Sharp
5) Matt Cronshaw, Node4 - Giordan Racing
6) Ian Bibby, Endura Racing
7) Scott Thwaites, Endura Racing
8) Chris Opie, Team UK Youth
9) Johnny McEvoy, Endura Racing
10) Ed Clancy, Rapha Condor Sharp
Round Nine Team Result
1) Endura Racing
2) Team UK Youth
3) Rapha Condor Sharp
4) Team Raleigh - GAC
5) Node4 - Giordana Racing
6) Metaltek Scott
7) Cycle Premier - Kovert
8) Herbalife LeisureLakesBikes
9) Team Hope Factory Racing
10) Team IG Sigma Sport
Overall Team Standings, post-Round Nine
1) Endura Racing, 84pts
2) Rapha Condor Sharp, 70pts
3) Team UK Youth, 68pts
4) Team Raleigh - GAC, 67pts
5) Node4 - Giordana Racing, 65pts
6) Cycle Premier - Kovert, 41pts
7) Team IG Sigma Sport, 33pts
8) Metaltek Scott, 28pts
9) Herbalife LeisureLakesBikes, 21pts
10) Team Hope Factory Racing, 17pts
Boardman Bikes Sprints winner Colchester: Graham Briggs (Team Raleigh - GAC)
Boardman Bikes Sprints standings, post-Round Nine
1) Bernard Sulzberger, Team Raleigh - GAC, 85pts
2) Marcel Six, Metaltek Scott, 55pts
3) Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp, 38pts
4) Dean Windsor, Endura Racing, 25pts
5) Graham Briggs, Team Raleigh - GAC, 19pts