Having narrowly regained the Tour Series leader’s green jerseys due to an imperial sprint-show at Birkenhead, Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes tackled a similar flat course at the sixth and penultimate round hosted in Salisbury on Thursday, 23rd May.
The picturesque historic streets of the cathedral city were packed with spectators around the 1.2km circuit which would be raced for the usual one hour plus three laps.
Demonstrating their strength in depth, the team were able to bring back three rested riders with Jacob Hennessy, Robert Jon McCarthy, Charles Page, Alex Paton and Rory Townsend taking on what was bound to be a strong challenge from second-placed but level on points, Madison Genesis.
McCarthy was off the starting line like a whippet dashing through the opening twisty corners with the competition and the rest of the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes in hot pursuit.
Over the next few laps all the team’s riders fought their way to the front resulting in an impressive five-man green train exerting intense pressure on the rest of the field.
This pattern remained for the next 15 minutes with the team taking all five places in the first Eisberg Intermediate Sprint of the night.
This race pattern was broken up when Townsend and John Mould (Madison Genesis) put in a stinging attack that settled into a strong lead group of 12 riders including four each from the two main team protagonists.
The second Eisberg Intermediate Sprint at the race mid-point was taken by Mould shortly followed by an attack by Paton which left just seven riders in the front group.
There were now three distinct lead groups which were perfectly balanced between Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes and Madison Genesis who each had two riders in the first group (Townsend and Paton), two riders in the second group (Hennessy and Page) and one in the third group (McCarthy).
As the seven riders in the first group attacked and counter-attacked each other causing their overall pace to plateau, Frederik Scheske (Vitus Pro Cycling) struck out boldly.
With Canyon dhb Bloor Homes and Madison Genesis being more focused on their team battle, Scheske was not seen again and powered away alone to an impressive maiden Tour Series win.
Meanwhile the third group was being driven-along by a group of four Ribble Pro Cycling riders trying to recover from their initial weak position.
This third group caught the second and with this increased impetus eventually caught the leading group going into the closing few laps.
So it then became a straight sprint shoot-out again, though with Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes riders not in the same commanding positions as they were in Birkenhead when they entered the last lap.
After a nervous few minutes whilst the combined times of the four best-placed riders from each team were calculated: helped by Scheske’s clear win, Vitus were declared team winners on the night with Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes holding onto second place by less than a second from Madison Genesis.
Brother UK Fastest Lap award winner Rory Townsend reflected…
“Our initial attack was planned to try and shake out the fourth Madison Genesis rider.
When that didn’t work Alex and I tried the ‘old 1-2 tactic’ (where each rider attacks in turn). There was no cohesion in the lead group of seven and the headwind on the longest straight deterred a sustained attack.
As we crossed the line Hennessy was in front of me and I could see McCarthy and Page just behind me, so I hoped we had done enough to win.”
Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes go into Saturday’s final round with a slim one-point lead over Madison Genesis, so expect a tense nail-biting finale at Brooklands!
Detailed Tour Series results can be found here.
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman.
Photo credits – Hugh McManus