After a gap of over two years since the last Tour Series race at Brooklands in May 2019, which was won by Rory Townsend and secured the 2019 series win for the then Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes, a shortened three round series for 2021 took place in the second week of August. The venues were home of the Tanfields, Guisborough on Sunday 8th, Sunderland on Tuesday 10th and Castle Douglas in the west of Scotland on Thursday, 12th. Each round would be of one hour duration plus 5 laps of the town centre courses with the promise of fast-paced, all-action racing!
Despite there only being three rounds, the racing was going to be as competitive as ever with new and revised teams ready to challenge for the title. Ribble Weldtite looked particularly strong fielding previous round winners Matt Gibson and Fred Scheske, while Saint Piran featured Tour Series stalwart Steve Lampier and previous round winner Jacob Hennessy. New teams included Crimson Orientation Marketing who had signed current National Circuit Race champion Joey Walker, Wales Racing Academy and Tom Pidcock’s former team, Trinity Racing.
Canyon dhb SunGod had selected a squad of eight riders for the series with five riders participating in each race. They eight were Matt Bostock, Jim Brown, Ryan Christensen, Jacob Scott, Charlie Tanfield, Andy Tennant, Rory Townsend and Reece Wood and with three past round winners were the strongest team on paper.
The Tour Series is primarily a team-based race with the first four riders of each team having their times accumulated to give team positions at the end of each round. The team with the lowest combined time is the winner on the night. As there were 13 teams taking part, the winning team on the night was then awarded 13 points, with the second team 12 points, the third team 11 points and so on. The points gained over the three rounds were added together to decide the overall winner of the series. All clear eh?
Round 1: Guisborough
Canyon dhb SunGod started as they had finished in Brooklands two years previously by placing the team towards the front of the peloton and setting a strong pace to put other teams under pressure.
1. Christensen, Tennant and Wood follow Townsend in the opening stages of Guisborough
2. Bostock leading Scheske at Guisborough
The race was progressing to plan until Scheske hit the front at pace, but he overcooked the left-hander coming onto the home straight and crashed into the barriers taking down a clutch of following riders including Bostock and Townsend of Canyon dhb SunGod, Hennessy of Saint Piran and Walker of Crimson.
3. Hennessy gesticulates as Townsend gets to his feet leaving Bostock and Scheske prone
Townsend lost a lap getting back on his feet and replacing his bike whilst Bostock remained flat out against the barriers along with Scheske. Scheske got back on his feet and walked away though Bostock remained pretty much motionless on the ground for a disturbing number of laps as the riders swerved by.
Following the melee, Gibson took advantage of the disrupted field and quickly established an insurmountable lead. Although a lap (or two) down and suffering from his crash, Townsend gamely hung on to Gibson until he was removed from the field along with the rest of the lapped riders. To add insult to injury, Christensen was taken down on the last corner of the last lap which cost his team at least one place in this round and ultimately denied the Canyon dhb SunGod a realistic chance of winning the 2021 Tour Series. Tennant was top finisher on the night in 8th with Wood close behind in 10th.
Ribble Weldtite took the round with Crimson in second and Scotland in third. After their catalog of misfortune, Canyon dhb SunGod were pushed down to 6th place.
The injuries sustained by Bostock and Townsend eliminated them for consideration for the following two rounds with Bostock sadly suffering a spiral finger fracture and Townsend cracking an already plated collarbone.
Round 2: Sunderland
It is said ‘you can’t keep a good man down’ and the same goes for a successful cycling team like Canyon dhb SunGod. Tim Elverson rallied his troops, brought in a rejuvenated Charlie Tanfield who had recovered from his Tokyo jet-lag, and a chomping-at-the-bit Jim Brown.
The rectangular course with long back and home straights and fast, wide corners kept the field together for much of the race and made any decisive breakaways difficult to achieve. Refreshingly new faces were making the pace with Will Roberts (Wales) and Ollie Rees (Trinity) leading home a seven-man break that rarely established a lead of much more than 10 seconds.
Christensen helped establish this break early on and with Tanfield bridging across later, gave Canyon dhb SunGod as well as Wales Racing Academy the advantage with two riders each in the break. Ribble had been put on the back-foot with Gibson being their only man in the break.
4. Christensen leads Gibson in the break at Sunderland
Tanfield ultimately finished 4th and Christensen 7th, and with Brown and Tennant towards the front of the pursuing peloton finishing in 9th and 10th places respectively, Canyon dhb SunGod took a narrow four second win on the night from Wales in 2nd and Ribble in 3rd. This meant the Canyon dhb SunGod had reduced the gap from 5 to 3 points behind Ribble in the overall standings. They were now just one point behind Crimson and level on points with Wales in joint 3rd place. Remarkably, there was still a chance of retaining their Tour Series crown if they could win the last round in Castle Douglas and Ribble finished 4th or lower on the night.
5. Tanfield takes 4th place in Sunderland
Round 3: Castle Douglas
Jacob Scott replaced Tennant for the last round and after the narrow win from Wales in Sunderland, Canyon dhb SunGod were back to almost total domination in Castle Douglas. The team put the whole peloton under pressure and forced all five of their riders into a breakaway that ultimately numbered 17. Crimson were the next best represented team with three riders in the break but surprisingly Gibson was the only Ribble rider who made it.
6. Jacob Scott leads the break at Castle Douglas
With this situation there was a real chance that Canyon dhb SunGod would not only win the team race on the night, but also take the series win and secure the Tour Series crown for the third time in a row. Tanfield showed his Tokyo form and took a convincing win at the front of the breakaway.
7. Tanfield wins at Castle Douglas
Brown sprinted through to 3rd place with Scott in 10th and Wood in 13th completing the scoring four riders for Canyon dhb SunGod.
8. Jim Brown on his way to 3rd place at Castle Douglas
The team took the victory by over two minutes from Wales with Ribble a further 30 seconds back. Fortunately for Ribble, the fourth Crimson rider was well down in 46th place and so they failed to capitalise on the three riders who had made the breakaway.
9. Team winners at Castle Douglas
Congratulations must go to Ribble Weldtite for their first Tour Series crown finishing a single point ahead of Canyon dhb SunGod. Credit must also go to Wales Racing Academy in 3rd place just another point behind and Crimson Orientation Marketing in 4th, yet another single point adrift. So it was a bittersweet series for Canyon dhb SunGod losing two key sprinters to injury but bouncing back to win the following two rounds in commanding fashion.
It is exciting for cycling as a whole in Britain with so many younger riders making an impression on the more established community.
In a post-race interview with Larry Hickmott of VeloUK, Tanfield stated:
‘It was funny because we thought it was going to split up, but with a headwind down the main straight it kept coming back together. I realised with about 10 minutes to go that it was going to be a sprint (finish) here, so I saved my energy to the end and gave it all in the sprint.’
Tim Elverson posted on social media:
‘The calm before the storm, having taken control of the team part of the race we had our race reorganised by another, two broken bikes, two broken riders and only two rounds to change it, we’ll do our best but it ain’t gonna be easy.’
‘After a tricky start and making a team adjustment we delivered, unfortunately loosing 2 at round 1 was a bridge to far in a short series, but taking the other 2 rounds was all we could do. All series the lads delivered.’
All photos courtesy of Larry Hickmott p/b Brother UK
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