|Tom Simpson Memorial Road Race|
WAYNE RANDLE'S winnning streak continued in Sunday's Tom Simpson Memorial Premier Calendar race at Harworth, where he followed the same tactical plan that had brought him victory in the previous weekend's Melbourne Grand Prix.
The Neilson-Tivoli professional ended the hopes of two thirds of the field with a first-lap break that split the peloton in two. Then he blew the leading group apart with a fresh attack at just over half-distance. Finally he knocked out the remaining opposition with a last-lap surge that carried him to a lone victory.
Randle crossed the line to the applause of an appreciative crowd lining the finishing straight in Harworth, the North Nottinghamshire pit village that was home to the young Tom Simpson and where he was buried after his death in the Tour de France 26 years ago.
Second place went to Malcolm Elliott, a rider who, like Simpson, left the North Midlands to find world fame. Elliott (Chevrolet-LA Sheriff) had flown in from California for his first appearance in Britain, after scoring a string of successes in the first half of the US season.
But Elliott couldn't respond when Randle made his victory bid and he had to settle for second place, outsprinting Paul Curran (Dinnington RC) and Gary Thomas (GS Strada), 1-22 down on the winner.
Matt Stephens (RT Italia) confirmed his recent good form in the Milk Race by taking fifth place at 2-15, with Neil Hoban (Neilson-Tivoli) next to finish at the head of the remnants of the group that had led for half the race.
The memorial race to Britain's greatest roadman has had a chequered career over the years. Promotions have been of varying quality and problems with the police caused it to be moved away from Harworth. But Barry Neilson, sponsor of the Neilson-Tivoli team, and helpers from Dinnington RC and Harworth and District CC, have rejuvenated the race.
Sunday's event was worthy of the Premier Calendar tag with the 76 starters protected by a police motor cycle escort and with additional officers sta-tioned on the main intersections around the 5.8-mile circuit. The prize list was worth racing for, with £200 going to the winner and going down to £10 for twentieth, plus cash primes on each of the 16 laps.
Each lap provided a mixture of wide main roads, rolling lanes and two climbs, one of them on the run-in to the finish. But it was the 'back-straight' hill, past the colliery spoil heap, that provided the action on lap one as Randle, Chris Allcock (Delta RT), Ian Gilkes (Wembley RC) and Mark Langman (Velo Wizz) opened a gap that grew to 25 seconds at nine miles.
Behind them the peloton stretched and snapped in two. Only 14 miles had been covered but the selection had been made. Twenty men were in the front half of the bunch that rapidly opened a gap on the rest, who would soon be out of contention.
At 16 miles the 20-man group joined the four breakaways and the race settled down as riders took stock. The Banana team had missed the boat for once, Brian Smith was their only man in the front 24. In contrast, Neilson-Tivoli had Randle, Rob Holden, John Tanner and their latest recruit, six-day king Danny Clark, up with the leaders.
Tony Doyle didn't want to be left out of the fun and set about bridging the two-minute gap from the rear group. His lone pursuit almost paid off. He had the leaders in his sight and team-mate Tanner dropped back to assist. Smith, sensing a chance to reduce the opposition, piled on the pressure at the front of the break and Doyle and Tanner rapidly lost ground. With 53 miles covered they were back in the second group and Neilson-Tivoli had lost a strong man from the break.
Meanwhile, Smith was stretching his legs at the front again, forcing Elliott to chase him down. The acceleration told on the group, which splintered into three. At 55 miles the winning break went clear. In it were Randle, Curran and Thomas who raced along the undulating road from Blyth to Harworth some 200 metres up on the chasers. Then Elliott exploded across the gap. Clearly he had decided this was THE move and in no time his sprint carried him across to the leaders.
It was all too much for Clark who slipped back through the field, grimacing with cramp behind his moustache as the four leaders rapidly opened a one-minute gap. Elliott was doing most of the driving on the front, Randle and Curran were doing their share, while Thomas was sitting on the back.
Into the last lap, a downhill swoop through Harworth then onto the 'back-straight' climb that had sparked the first break of the day. Randle switched across the road and was away. Elliott rolled through but never looked like chasing. Amateur Curran shares the same sponsor as pro Randle, and although he didn't obstruct the pursuit, he wasn't going to assist. Thomas hit the front at last but soon gave up the chase.
Randle was away. A 50-metre lead by the top of the hill grew rapidly on the descent and he flew up the final climb confident that no one could prevent him from taking maximum Premier Calendar points for the second week in succession.
Gary Coltman (Raleigh), riding as a lone-wolf entry, eased home in eighth place to extend his over-all lead over Mark Walsham, who was 17th to finish.
'WAYNE Randle's victory saw him leapfrog six places up the Premier Calendar table to seventh after collecting 80 points in seven days. 'It wasn't as hard as last week, I didn't suffer so much,' said Randle. 'I was hoping they would play cat and mouse on the last lap.
When they eased, I went.' On his present form Randle is a favourite for tomorrow's (Fri-day) Manx International, in which he scored a memorable win as an amateur.
'If I'm in with a chance I won't be holding back, even though the national is two days later,' he said. 'We'll just have to see how things are shaping third time through Ramsey.'
LEAN and bronzed from the Californian sun, Malcolm Elliott said: 'It was a good ride, 26mph average, I buried myself in the break to give myself a good work-out as it's two weeks since I last raced.
I was a bit weary and had a touch of cramp when Wayne attacked, he just seemed to drift away. Only three of us were working. I asked who the GS Strada rider in the break was and someone said "Don't you recognise the BAR Kevin Dawson?" - In fact, the Strada mys-tery man was Gary Thomas.
PAUL Curran was delighted to be back in the frame after a below-par Milk Race. 'It was a sensible course and a sensible race for the week after the Milk Race,' he said.
'I've been suffering with a head cold all week and thought I'd just do a few laps. But when you get into the break, what can you do'? If I'd planned to be in the break I would prob-ably have missed it.'
GARY THOMAS, one of the discoveries of 1992, has been struggling to find form this season. The 21-year-old said: 'The Irish Milk Ras took it out of me, but now my form seems to be coming back.
I had to sit on the back of the break because of cramp. I thought Wayne was catchable at the end but nobody was prepared to commit themselves.
1. Wayne Randle (Neilson-Tivoli) 92.4m in 3-29-33
2. M. Elliott (Chevrolet LA Sheriff) at 1-22
3. P. Curran (Dinnington RC)
4. G. Thomas (GS Strada) both st
5. M. Stephens (RT Italia) at 2-15
6. N. Hoban (Neilson-Tivoli) at 2-49
7. Perks (CC Giro) at 2-51
8. Coltman (Raleigh)
9. R. Thompson (North East RT)
10. R. Holden (Neilson-Tivoli)
11. G. Holmes (Rennrad Club)
12. Burns (Aire Valley Sports)
13. Smith (Banana)
14. Cook (Middridge CRT)
15. C. King (Bath University CC) all st
16. N. Dunn (Middridge CRT) at 3-10
17. M. Walsham (unsponsored) st
18. Telford (North East RT) at 3-24
19. Allcock (Delta RT) at 3-27
20. N. Keane (Rennrad Club) st.