PORTHOLE GRAND PRIX
Southern exile Gethin Butler made history in Sunday's Porthole Grand Prix.
'I WANTED that - I really wanted it!' The usually taciturn Gethin Butler (RT Italia-Ribble) could not hide his delight when he made history by becoming the first rider to win the Porthole Grand Prix time trial classic for three successive years on Sunday.
'I've never been so nervous before a race since I was a junior,' exclaimed a jubilant Butler after finishing exactly a minute clear over a sporting 21.2-mile course around Lake Windermere.
Butler's time of 48-02 for this 15th edition of the Kent Valley RC classic, shortened from its normal 25.5 miles because of recently erected traffic lights at Waterhead, gave him a handsome winning margin over runner-up Pete Longbottom (North Wirral Velo).
Butler could have been even faster. 'Basically I felt very good, but a convoy of about eight cars passed immediately before I started and headed slowly over the bridge towards Coniston,' he related.
'Some then went my way towards Hawkshead, and I had problems getting past them in the lanes.
'I reckon I lost about 30 seconds, which would have given me the record for the short course.
That figure, 47-44, was established by Darryl Webster in 1987 when roadworks caused a similar shortening.
Third place with a time of 49-24 was shared by the event's only professional, Jon Clay (Team Orange), making his Porthole debut, and North East RT amateur Shaun Tyson, who was for many the surprise of the day.
With Tyson ably backed by Simon Telford, eighth in 51-07, and Mark Addinall, 11th in 51-35, North East RT comfortably achieved their pre-race objective, the team award.
Indeed, at one stage, the three North Easterners held the top three placings on the leader-board.
A grey, overcast sky greeted the first man off, Pete Graham of the promoting Kent Valley RC, and although the roads were damp and slightly greasy from earlier rain, little more fell during the event.
Graham Hodkinson (Border City Wheelers), off number seven, set the early pace with 54-46, followed closely by Ann Plant (Lakes RC), whose 59-02 was to give her the women's award.
Then the first of the North Wirral riders, Matt Middleton, off number 16, recorded 53-33.
John Charlesworth (Delta RT), off number 30, finished his first-ever Porthole in 52-15, commenting: 'It was hard all the way round. I fluffed it on the climb, but I was also holding back on the descents.'
The next man on a mark, Chris Sanders (North Wirral Velo), was four seconds faster but complained that he was off form.
By now, the North East RT men were coming in, first Simon Telford - the temporary leader with 51-07 - then the first real buzz from the gallery as Shaun Tyson set the new standard with his largely unexpected 49-24.
Not surprisingly, Tyson had enjoyed his first Porthole attempt, although he had found the roads a bit tricky. 'I have been mountain biking in the area, but I did not really know the roads,' he said.
'I could have gone faster with more experience of them.'
BBAR Kevin Dawson (Optimum Performance RT), off number 80, cruised in with 51-20 for eventual 10th place.
Dawson explained that this had been his first time trial for six months: 'When you have not ridden them for that time it opens your eyes a bit, but I went a bit better today than last year in this test.'
Number 95, Shay Giles (Leo RC), whose 53-21 was to earn him the veterans' award, commented:
'The tri-spokes were a bit tricky on the wet roads - but what a brilliant course!'
All eyes were now on number 100, Jon Clay. Could the Team Orange pro lift the standard? A new
leader looked to be on. But no -Clay's 49-24 had put him equal with Tyson.
This had been Clay's first race of the year and whilst he had liked the course, he never really settled in.
'When you are going well in a time trial, you feel like you are cruising, but today I just felt rusty.'
Once Paul Curran (Optimum Performance RT), the 1989 Porthole winner, had finished in 50-35 for sixth place, and a frustrated Chris Ball (Team Haverhill) had logged 50-50 despite continual gear problems, only the battle between Pete Longbottom and Gethin Butler was left.
When the North Wirral rider crossed the line in 49-02, after marginally leading Butler on the climb of Devil's Gallop after eight and a half miles, he was hopeful of victory.
But his hopes were quickly dashed when Butler flashed past the timekeeper exactly one minute faster.
Would Butler be going for a fourth Porthole? 'I'll have to now,' he confirmed. 'I love it - it's the best hardriders' event I have ridden.'
His immediate aims are more hilly tests, then some road races including the Tour of Lancashire and a serious attempt at the BBAR. 'I feel really good, compared to last year when I did not get really fit until the Lancashire RC 12-hour in August.'
All in all, it was another successful promotion from Derek Tunstall and his Kent Valley RC team, with that extra bit of magic which 'Mr Porthole', Gianni Berton, always brings to this event. However, he was quick to acknowledge the additional sponsorship from Kodak Processing and from Windermere Motors.
1. Gethin Butler (RT Italla) 48 02
2. P. Longbottom (North Wirral Velo) 49 02
3. S. Tyson (North East RT) 49 24
4. J. Clay (Team Orange) 49 24
5. N. Dunn (Middridge CRT) 50 28
6. P. Curran (Optimum Performance RT) 50 35
7. C. Ball (Team Haverhill) 50 50
8. S. Telford (North East RT) 51 07
9. N. Nicholson (Middridge CRT) 51 13
10. K. Dawson (Optimum Performance RT) 51 20
11. M. Addinall (North East RT) 51 35
12. H. Roberts (Mid Shropshire Wh) 51 53
13. C. Alicock (Delta RT) 51 56
14. G. Waddington (Pendle Forest CC) 52 00
15. C. Sanders (North Wirral Velo) 52 11
16. J. Charlesworth (Delta RT) 52 15
17. H. Iddon (Cleveleys RC) 53 07
18. J. Kirchin (Mansfield RC) 53 09
19. A. Gunson (Barrow Central Wh) 53 12
20. S. Giles (Leo RC) 53 21
Team.. North East RT (Shaun Tyson, Simon Telford, Mark Addinall) 2.32-06.
Vets.- Shay Giles (Leo RC) 53-21.
Vets on std.- George Walmaley (Border City Wh) +18-22.
Juniors.- Steve Stone (Mansfield RC) 57-15.
Trikes.- Ben Elliott (Macclesfield Wh) 59-46.
Women.- Ann Plant (Lakes RC) 59-02.