Tour of the Bronte Land
CHRIS WALKER gave Banana-Falcon their latest success in the Tour of the Bronte Land road race over a tough, 85-mile course around Haworth, West Yorkshire, on Saturday.
Haworth is the home village of Banana-Falcon's Dave Rayner, and their new national criterium champion Rob Holden also lives within spitting distance of the course, but although the race produced a Yorkshire clean sweep it was Walker's turn to take the honours.
The Sheffield rider outsprinted breakaway rivals Dave Mann (unsponsored) and Chris Young (Ever Ready-Halfords), the latter rider being, by general consensus, the strong man of a race organised by East Bradford CC and sponsored by print ers Peter Fretwell and Sons.
Milk Race stage winner Paul Curran (unsponsored) came in two seconds down to complete a leading quartet after Keith Reynolds (Banana-Falcon) had been dropped on the last lap of a four-mile finishing circuit, losing two minutes and almost being caught as team-mate Chris Lillywhite led in the rest.
It was sprinter Walker's 11th success of the season, but he admitted that he might not have been in a winning position but for Young's efforts. 'Young was riding very strongly all day.' he acknowledged. 'I wasn't doing much work because I was bent over double with a bad stomach for most of the race. I didn't enjoy the race at all, but at least my legs felt alright!'
The surprisingly good crowd which turned out as showers turned to steady drizzle might have preferred to see local lad Dave Mann take it. 'I undergeared for the sprint,' he admitted.
The other loser was mountain bike ace Tim Gould (Cycles Peugeot UK), who was in contention until unshipping his chain on the last of 12 laps of the Flappit Spring circuit, before the two loops around Haworth. He came in almost four minutes down.
'It was just as we were starting the Dog and Gun climb, and I just couldn't get back on - I was struggling,' he said.
The first split came near the end of the opening lap when Banana-Falcon captain Shane Sutton, back after missing the two national championships, went clear with Young, Curran, Mann and Reynolds.
They built up a lead of just over a minute, but on the fourth lap the bunch started to fragment as Walker, Rayner and Lillywhite chased along with Adrian Timmis (unsponsored) and Gould.
The two groups of five came together as they turned left on the A629 to the Flappit Inn towards the end of the fifth lap, by which time the 'bunch' - down to seven men - was at 57 seconds.
Sutton lost contact on the eighth lap, and it was on the next circuit that Young put in his decisive attack, only Curran and Walker staying with him.
They quickly got a minute's lead on the other six as Sutton dropped back to be caught by Nick Barnes (Teka), David Baker (Cycles Peugeot UK), Barrie Clarke (Raleigh) and Bernie Burns (Ever Ready).
However, Mann and Reynolds went off in pursuit of the three leaders and made contact near the end of the final circuit of Flappit, on the descent to Oxenhope.
As they came through the finish to start two laps around Haworth, the five leaders were 1-56 up on Lillywhite, Timmis and Rayner, while Clarke finished strongly to get past first Gould and then Rayner.
1. CHRIS WALKER (Banana-Falcon) 85m in 3-40-10
2. D. Mann (unsponsored)
3. C. Young (Ever Ready-Halfords) both st
4. P. Curran (unsponsored) at 2sec
5. K. Reynolds (Banana-Falcon) at 2-2
6. C. LiIIywhite (Banana-Falcon) at 2-8
7. A. Timmis (unsponsored) at 2-10
8. B. Clarke (Raleigh) at 2-13
9. D. Rayner (Banana-Falcon) at 2-54
10. T. Gould (Cycles Peugeot UK) at 3-40.