WINNING for a third successive year, Paul Curran (Optimum Performance RT) led from the start in the Concorde RCC two-day race at Tamworth, Staffordshire.
Curran, in his first event since returning from the world motor-paced championships, finished four seconds clear of Mike Harrison (Congleton CC) in a 1.8-mile prologue time trial.
1. Paul Curran (Optimum Performance RT) 4 21
2. M. Harrison (Congleton CC) 4 25
3. R. Bradley (Team Sabre) 4 29
4. N. Martin (Dinnington RC) 4 30
5. R. Jones (Team Sabre) 4 31
6. M. Norman (Team Sabre) 4 37
His Optimum team-mate Mark Lovatt opened up a lead on the final climb and crossed the line two seconds clear of Curran and their breakaway companion Phil Wilkins, riding for the East Midlands Centre of Excellence, at the end of the opening 82-mile road stage.
Ten riders had gone clear from the neutralised section and opened up a minute's lead in the windy conditions by the end of the first 11-mile lap.
During the next two laps five were dropped, but the remaining five were joined by Wilkins and another four riders.
These 10 stayed together until the last lap when Lovatt and Wilkins broke clear, soon to be joined by Curran.
1. Mark Lovatt (Optimum Performance RT) 82m in 3-57-25
2. P. Curran at 2sec
3. P. Wilkins (E Midlands Centre of Exc) at 3sec
4. P. Wilkes (Dinnington RC) at 54sec
5. N. Martin
6. S. Bennett (Maltby CC) both st.
Curran then finished second to Mike Harrison, with former national champion David Cook (Middridge CRT) third, as a seven-strong leading group contested the finish of the final 81-mile leg.
The stage had started quietly but Cook, Harrison, Lovatt, Scott Bennett and Mark Wordsworth (Maltby CC), Paul Spencer (East Midlands) and David Cook went away after 15 miles, and this move decided the final classification.
Over the next 55 miles they gradually increased their lead to 2-45, the only threat to their advantage being a combined harvester which blocked their route and saw the gap whittled down to 45 seconds before they pulled clear again to finish two minutes up.
Curran and Lovatt, with most to gain overall, had been the chief animators.
Overall, Curran finished with 25 seconds to spare over Lovatt, with Bennett a further 51 seconds back and Cook fourth.
1. Mike Harrison (Congleton CC) 81m in 3-13-20
2. P. Curran
3. D. Cook (Middridge CRT)
4. M. Wordsworth (Maltby CC)
5. S. Bennett
6. P. Spencer (E Midlands Centre of Exc) all st.
1. Paul Curran (Optimum Performance RT) 7-15-03
2. M. Lovatt at 25sec
3. S. Bennett at 1-16
4. D. Cook at 1-17
5. P. Wilkins at 2-29
6. M. Norman at 3-01
7. P. Wilkes at 3-14
8. R. Sharrock (Team Stonefield) at 3-59
9. G. Thomas (Leek CC) at 5-14
10. M. Harrison at 6-02.
1. Mark Lovatt 20 pts
2. P. Curran 7
3. D. Cook 4.