|THE MILK RACE|
SOMETIME, in the not-too-distant future, Great Britain should be celebrating its first Milk Race winner since Bill Nickson in 1976. This cause for optimism was made evident by sparkling performances by both the Great Britain and England teams in this year's race who gave great hope for the future through Paul Watson, Paul Curran and Adrian Timmis, third, fourth and 10th respectively.
Like the new regime behind the Milk Race organisation, the new-look BCF management team of Albert Hitchen, GB team manager Keith Butler and England team manager Eddie White, urged, coaxed and threatened good performances from a crop of new names who can only get better.
Only a few years ago Watson was ploughing a lonely furrow every winter in his quest to become the national cyclo-cross champion. His decision to stay in France and learn from the French soon convinced him that his future lay more in road racing
He was 14th last year in his first Milk Race, and in one day of brilliance on the Richmond to Halifax stage this year, he elevated himself to third place overall when winning the stage, which also put Eric Van Lancker in the yellow jersey for the second time.
Paul Curran reached his fourth place by the more traditional method in stage racing, that is, by consistently high placings each day and getting involved in the various competitions.
Persuaded by Director of Racing, Jim Hendry, to switch from track to road racing, he proved dependable, with a ninth place in the prologue time trial, and a third place on stage three which put him fourth overall.
However, next day he had slumped to 11th, then he worked his way back to sixth, fell down to eighth, and on stage 11 was a good second to Malcolm Elliott which gave him his eventual fourth place overall.
He took the mountains jersey after the third stage where he finished fourth to America's Steve Tilford, but lost it to the USSR's Vladimir Poulnikov on stage six when the Russian finished second in two of the day's primes. Curran finished fourth in this competition eventually, one place behind Watson, and it has been a long time since we have challenged in this speciality.
1. J. Travbnicek (Czech) 3-37-54
2. J. Pierce (USA)
3. A. Paulin (USA)
4. T. Kirsipuu (USSR)
5. J. Schephoff (Int Prof)
6. V. Kozarek (Czech) all same time
9. P. Curran (Eng)
PAUL Curran, moved up nine places to fourth overall and took over as King of the Mountains after coming third in the 105-mile third stage of the Milk Race from Coventry to Welwyn Garden City yesterday.
The Stockton cyclist was just beaten in a three-man sprint finish with stage
winner Jozef Regec of Czechoslovakia, and American Steve Tilford. Most of
the 74-strong field were nearly a minute behind.
Curran, a member of the British cycling team at last summer's Olympics, said: "I can't complain. The Czech and the American were just too fast coming up the final straight.
a good sprinter on the track, but I don't sprint nearly so well on the road.
"But I'm glad the Czech won. I gave Tilford, the American, a drink five miles from home and then he beat me in the Hot Spot Sprint three miles from the end and then again in the run-in."
Curran, first over the last two hill climbs, was pleased, however, with his lead in the King of the Mountains contest.
Tilford took over the race leader's yellow jersey, but was not so pleased as he should have been.
"The Czech hooked me into the gutter in the final sprint and I had to throw him off," he said. "Otherwise I would have won today."
The American moved into a 21-second overall lead, over Belgian Eric Van Lancker.
Toomas Kirsipun (Russia) is third, just one second ahead of Curran who is
27-seconds behind Tilford.
Curran leads from Tilford in the combined classification decided on all the individual sections of the race, and is also lying second to Kirsipuu in the points classification based on each day's stage placings.
1. J Regec (Czech) 4hr 1min 42sec
2. S Tilford (USA)
3. P Curran (Eng) all same time
4. Z Jaskula (Pol) at 35secs
5. L Vecrausaz (Switz)
6. S Spratt (Ire) all same time.
The first day on the North York moors did little to change the overall positions, but England's Paul Curran ended a productive day by climbing to sixth place, 2min 13sec behind Kirsipuu, after Denmark's Bjarne Riis missed the decisive move and slipped to 25th overall.
1. V. Kozarek (Czech) 3hr 28min 1sec
17. P. Curran (Eng) same time.
rider Paul Curran moved up to fourth place overall in cycling's Milk Race
Curran rode superbly over the 110-mile penultimate stage from Leeds to Derby, but he could not pip Sheffield's Malcolm Elliott.
Elliott, bringing back "a ghost from the past," gained the tenth stage win of his career in the Milk Race with a brilliant ride.
Elliott covered the stage in wet and windy conditions in 4hr 24min 20sec, having broken away with four other riders at the 50-mile mark.
Elliott, who won a record six stages in 1983 and two more last year, began this year's race in fine style by winning the prologue time trial for his ninth stage success.
Then his form dipped, particularly on the hills, and he began yesterday's 11th stage in 21st place overall.
At the finish yesterday an elated Elliott, now 13th, said:
"This was definitely the hardest of my ten stage wins. I even won one of the climbs. But that was just a relapse, a ghost from the past."
The first five riders finished 3:50 ahead of the chasing bunch and England
amateur Curran is now 5:24 down.
But Belgian professional Eric Van Lancker, who came in with the main bunch, is still the overall leader 2:46 clear of American Roy Knickman with only the 12th stage from Derby to Birmingham today still to come.
1. Malcolm Elliot
2. Paul Curran (Eng)
1. Eric Van Lancker (Fangio Belgium) 45 hrs 46mins 54secs
2. Roy Knickman (USA) at 2 mins 46 secs
3. Paul Watson (GB) at 4 mins 7secs
4. Paul Curran (Eng) at 5 mins 24secs
5. K. Palov (Czech) at 5 mins 29secs
6. Z. Jaskula (Pol) at 7 mins 6secs