Following the foul weather at the recent Tour de Yorkshire, another wet day greeted the competing teams at the first of seven rounds of the OVO Energy Tour Series held in Redditch.
The Tour Series is an hour-long team event where each team fields five riders with the combined finishing times of the their four highest-placed riders deciding the evening’s team winner.
Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes were opening their defence of the Tour Series title won in 2018 under the Canyon Eisberg banner.
Particularly strong competition was expected from last year’s series runners-up Madison Genesis (led by current National Road Race Champion Connor Swift) and Vitus Pro Cycling (headed by recent signings, multiple Olympic Champion Ed Clancy and ex-WorldTour rider Scott Thwaites).
In drying conditions, Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes opened the race with their aggressive trademark approach (image one).
After five laps of the one mile circuit, Rory Townsend was on the front of the peloton with four of his team holding positions in the top 10.
Townsend made a solo break ‘to test his legs’ (image two) but was still feeling the effects of illness that forced him to withdraw half-way through the Tour de Yorkshire and after a couple of laps out alone he was brought back into the peloton.
On lap 10 Andy Tennant attacked along with multiple Tour Series race winner John Mould (Madison Genesis), but this was short-lived.
Another attack by George Pym (Madison Genesis) was brought back by Alex Paton. Then on lap 14 Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) made his move chased by Jacob Hennessy, the latter earning the evening’s Brother UK Fastest Lap award for his efforts (image four).
Swift maintained his storming pace to take the Eisberg Intermediate Sprint on lap 15, and Hennessy drifted back to the peloton which had been shattered by this acceleration.
By lap 20 the rain had returned, Swift had established a break of over 30 seconds, and the peloton had reformed in response to the testing conditions. Over the remainder of the 30 lap race, Swift gradually increased his lead to one minute while Tennant escaped in a group of four riders that pulled out a 15 second gap on the peloton.
After ending up in 5th place, Tennant commented:
“’We gave it our best effort with a strong start, but with heavy legs after the Tour de Yorkshire and Swift getting away alone, we had to go for second place on the night”
As expected, it was a hard fought contest between the three strongest teams with Madison Genesis taking an early one-point lead over Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes in the Tour Series standings, with Vitus Pro Cycling a further point behind in 3rd place.
The second round will be held in Motherwell on Tuesday, 14th May.
Highlights of the Redditch round will be shown on ITV4 at 23.25 on Saturday, 11th May.
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman.
All pictures courtesy of SWpix.com