TOUR OF NORTH YORKSHIRE
Sensation! Read all about it! Paul Curran did not win this weekend's big amateur race - the Tour of North Yorkshire - but Pete Longbottom, his Manchester Wheelers Trumanns Steel team-mate did.
However Curran did win both of the Sunday stages, the three-mile time trial to Studley Royal Deer Park and the closing 65-mile stage around Ripon, but Longbottom had done enough the day before when winning the opening stage.
Second was David Cook (Ferryhill Wheelers), who had enlivened the race with his constant attacking, but in the end had to bow to the teamwork of the Manchester Wheelers.
Longbottom won the opening stage when he outsprinted Cook after the pair had broken away in the closing miles of the 70-mile stage out in the Yorkshire Dales.
Longbottom never put a foot wrong, being one of the few to take advantage over confusion concerning the end of the neutralisation period from Knaresborough. It was Longbottom, and others, who jumped away when the race reached the start on the Ripon Road - the correct place -while the rest strolled along thinking that the end of the neutralisation period came later. Once the mistake was realised they were galvanised into action.
This sudden acceleration so early in the race was to prove the undoing of many. That, and the combination of the rolling countryside, made for a very tough first stage.
A crash at Sawley early on spoiled the chances of Bernie Burns (Bradford Wheelers). David Lund (Middridge CRT), and Simon Wright (Hull and East Riding RC) when they were in collision with a Post Office van. Ironically, Burns who has just finished employment with the Post Office, came off worst with a broken collar bone and several stitches. The other two sustained cuts and bruises as mementoes.
A break meanwhile had got away: Longbottom, Nigel Bishop (Manchester Wheelers), Mike Twelves (Tunstall-Wheelers) and Karl Smith (Paragon RT), going 1-15 clear on a chasing group containing Paul Brown (Paragon RT), Mike Nilen (Northern Velo) and Cook.
The break gained two minutes with the bulk of the work, understandably, being done by the two Manchester Wheelers.
More joined in the chase until 12 men were in pursuit, and once the break was caught it was time for fresh initiative from Smith, Longbottom, Cook and Giles Pidcock (Bradford Wheelers).
Longbottom was quick to assess the work-rate of Smith and Pidcock, and having satisfied himself that he was carrying two passengers he broke away on the Staveley climb, taking Cook with him.
They gained a maximum of 48 seconds in a contrast of styles according to age and experience. Longbottom was the smoother technician, while Cook, a member of the junior squad this year, expended a lot of energy.
Between them they mustered enough for Longbottom to win a long sprint from Cook, with Andrew Chapman (Featherstone RC) claiming third place 12 seconds down.
The first three places were worth time bonuses of 30, 20 and 10 seconds. Curran finished in the bunch in 14th place, 1-59 down, having assumed an unaccustomed domestique role for Longbottom.
1. Pete Longbottom (Manchester WhTrumanns Steel) 70m in 2-43-48
2. D Cook (Ferryhill Wh) st
3. A. Chapman (Featherstone RC) at l2sec
4. G. Pidcock (Bradford Wh)
5. J. Charlesworth (S Yorks RC)
6. M. Twelves (Tunstall Wh)
7. N. Bishop (Manchester Wh)
8. M. Harrison (Congleton CC)
9. G. Speight (Chesterfeild Cours)
10. M. Edmunson (GS Orion) all st.
The Sunday morning time trial was a cracker, a three-mile race to the Studley Royal Deer Park, a National Trust property from the centre of Ripon where the Wake-man still blows his horn at 9pm to ensure the inhabitants that the town is in his safekeeping until sunrise next day.
The first mile was tricky, battling with the local traffic, but once on the B6265 to the Park it became a thriller, rattling over three cattlegrids once past the gates, then the long climb to the obelisk and the 19th century church of St. Mary.
Bishop produced the first fast time of 8-20, but 27 minutes later that was reduced to 8-12 by Longbottom, a fact that had commentator Mike Smith going wild with ecstasy.
It became almost too much when Phil Sheard (Bradford Wheelers) reduced it to 8-10 eight minutes later. When Curran make it all look so simple with 7-51, then even the sheep at the bottom of the hill looked up to see what the commotion was all about.
"It was a good little time trial," said Curran. "I'm glad I went round it this morning otherwise I would have started sprinting from the gate.
"My right calf has been giving me some gip, I must have been riding with a bent pedal."
"I think I will jump Pete this afternoon with 15 miles to go!"
Despite the effort, Curran was still outside the first 10, still led by Longbottom by 12 seconds from Cook, with Chapman losing time, but third at 41 seconds.
1. Paul Curran (Manchester Wh-Trumanns Steel) 3m 7-51
2. P. Sheard (Bradford Wh) 8-10
3. Longbottom 8-12
4. Cook, 8-14
5. D. Jarvis (Chesterfield Cours) 8-16
6. Twelves 8-18
eq7. Bishop, Pidcock, K. Smith (Paragon RT) 8-20
10. Headon (Horwich CC) 8-25.
The final stage over the Dallowgill Moors saw only 32 starters from the 45 who had started on Saturday with Twelves, Pidcock and Mark Addinall (VC York) contributing to the first lap action. John Charlesworth (South Yorkshire RC) ran out of road and crashed, clutching those parts of his anatomy that he held the most dear.
Longbottom and Cook started the second lap in brisk fashion with Twelves having a go himself when they were brought back.
Mark Edmunson (GS Orion), Bishop and John Fiddies (Horwich CC) made the first meaningful break, reaching one minute before Edmunson and Fiddies began to crack on the climbs led by the stronger Bishop.
With a long way to go Bishop sensed it could be a lonely ride and waited for the other two to rejoin him. Eventually Edmunson and Fiddies were dropped, then caught by the bunch, while Bishop hovered off the front until he blew.
"I didn't eat enough lunch," he said later.
The last lap was a lively one with Curran, Twelves, Cook and Longbottom attacking several times. Gary Speight (Chesterfield Coureurs) tried to escape, so did Cook, just before a nasty hairpin bend, but in the end it was up to Curran to show them the way.
His lead was never more than 45 seconds, but safeguarded by Longbottom keeping busy chasing down every attempt to bring back the Commonwealth Games and British champion.
Curran finished 28 seconds clear of Dave Scrivener (Cleveland Wheelers) with Longbottom third and adding another 10 seconds bonus to win overall from Cook and Chapman.
"Nigel was a good decoy," said Longbottom. but he over-did it, especially on a 65-mile stage."
"I did my best to pop Pete, but I didn't do enough," said Curran.
With excellent sponsorship from Dunlopillo and Yorkshire Television it has the basis of a good race, from the organising Knaresborough CC Keith Thompson needs more help from local officials and more positive marshalling if he wants the race to progress.
1. Curran, 65m in 3-0-5
2. D. Scrivener (Cleveland Wh) at 28 sec
5. P. Tighe (Scunthorpe Poly)
6. J. Wright (Tyne Velo)
7. G. Speight
1. PETE LONGBOTTOM (Manchester Wh-Trumanns Steel)
2. Cook at 22sec
3. Chapman; at 51 sec
4. Sheard at 52sec
5. Twelves at 58sec
6. Curran at 1-11
7. Speight at 1-26
8. Tighe at 2-38
9. Scrivener at 2-55
10. Wright at 2-56.