WELSH OPEN CLASSIC
Darryl Webster made it three wins in a row for the PMS-Dawes team when he won the Welsh Open Classic at Pontypool, Gwent, on Sunday.
Webster's success following two wins in successive weekends by his team-mate Jon Clay, underlined the outstanding form that the PMS-Dawes team are enjoying at present. Webster proved that a good professional can beat a good amateur by outsprinting Olympic hope Curran after they had dominated the 130-mile race.
With Curran's Olympic team-mates Ben Luckwell and Mark Gornall finishing third and fifth respectively, team manager Bernie Burns was "very pleased" with his charges performances.
Webster and Curran were head and shoulders above the rest. The former Manchester Wheelers clubmates took the race by the throat on the four-mile, one-in-eight, climb of the Tumble (70 miles) near Abergavenny, where Webster put in a devastating effort finally only matched by Curran.
When the finishing circuit at Pontypool was reached, Webster and Curran led by just over one minute, and after 10 laps of the 5.5-mile circuit they had the almost three minutes in hand.
"It is nice to get a win as a professional," Webster said. "As an amateur I could win most weeks, with the professionals you have done well if you get two wins in a season."
Curran complained about the way Webster had ridden. "He sat on me for miles and would not come through. It was only when I had opened up a good gap that he started to work with me," Curran said.
Webster admitted it was not his usual style, "But being a pro you are only riding to win" he said.
The race had started five hours earlier with rain falling as the bunch moved out to the 10-mile Cwmbran circuit, that was to be covered four times.
Early action saw national professional road champion Steve Joughin (Ever Ready-Ammaco), Jon Clay, Ian Sanders (Percy Bilton), Phil Thomas (RaleighBanana), Nick Noble ( South West Centre of Excellence) and Mike Twelves (Tunstall Wheelers) going clear by some two minutes.
They were pulled back as the Tumble climb approached. It was here that former hill-climb champion Webster made his confident move. His forceful riding taking him away, with only Keith Reynolds (Emmelle-MBK) able to hold him.
While Webster's effort was obvious Curran seemed to glide away from the bunch, his style hiding the intense amount of work he was no doubt putting into catching Webster.
Reynolds held the pair for two miles before falling back to the strung-out bunch leaving Webster to take the prime from Curran.
On the run down to Blaenavon it was Curran all the way. "He put his head down and went," Webster said later. "I was quite happy to be sheltering behind him."
Into Pontypool, with 55 miles left and the pair led by one minute and a gambling man would not have given much for their chances. But with the GB and PMS-Dawes teams blocking any organised chases were soon discouraged.
Five miles later and Webster and Curran led by 2-10 from a chasing group that included world pursuit silver medallist Tony Doyle (Ever Ready-Ammaco), Chris Lillywhite (RaleighBanana), Alan Gornall (Park Centre Cycles), Chris Whorton (Allinson-Sunblest), Sanders, Joughin, Dave Mann (Raleigh-Banana), Mike Doyle (PMS-Dawes), Glenn Clarke (Ever Ready-Ammaco), Twelves, Dave Spencer (CD), Luckwell, Mark Gornall, Paul Rogers (Southern Centre of Excellence), Mark Walsham (Percy Bilton), Reynolds, Noble, Barnes and Joughin.
A £25 prime was put up for the Tony Doyle group and Doyle's winning sprint split the chasing group apart leaving Doyle, Thomas, Lillywhite and Barnes 1-50 behind Webster and Curran.
Next time round Webster won a £20 prime and the leaders' advantage went out to 2-19. Three laps to go and Dave Mann (Raleigh-Banana) burst clear. He stayed away for one lap before being caught by a GB inspired chase which catapulted Luckwell to third place on the road.
The bell lap saw Curran win a £25 prime as Webster went through stuck on his wheel. Luckwell was still alone, 40 seconds ahead of a 13-strong bunch led by Alan Gornall and Mann.
As the two leaders came into sight for the last time it was Webster in front and that is where he stayed to cross the line two lengths ahead of Curran. Luckwell was next home.
"I did not know we had caught Mann, I thought I was going for fourth place," Luckwell said. "It was an attack from Barnes that took me away. I jumped on his wheel and then went through I blew him off my wheel and just kept going."
The sprint for fourth place went to Lillywhite who beat Mark Gornall and Mark Walsham.
PMS-Dawes team manager Keith Lambert was entitled to smile as his team added another win to a successful first season highlighted by their team victory in the Milk Race.
1. DARRYL WEBSTER (PMS-Dawes) 130m in 5-5-35
2. P. Curran (GB) at 1 sec
3. B. Luckwell (GB) at 2-11
4. C. Lillywhite (Raleigh-Banana) at 2-50
5. M. Gornall (GB)
6. M. Walsham (Percy Bilton)
7. K. Reynolds (Emmelle-MBK)
8. N. Noble (SW C of Excellence)
9. P. Rogers (S. C of Excellence)
10. N. Barnes (PMS-Dawes)
11. A. Doyle (Ever Ready-Ammaco)
12. P. Thomas (Raleigh-Banana)
13. M. Twelves (Tunstall Wh)
14. D. Mann (Raleigh-Banana)
15. D. Spencer (GB)
16. A. Gornall (Park Cycle Centre) all st
17. S. Joughin (Ever Ready-Ammaco) at 5-15
18. H. Lodge (GB) at 6-43
19. J. Ford (Wales) at 8-17
20. C. Coltman (Ever Ready-Ammaco) st.
REPORT DAVID TAYLOR
PICTURES RON GOOD