Top class cycling blows Canary Wharf crowds away
Canary Wharf welcomed the best of British cycling last night and even the infamous Wharf winds couldn't prevent an exciting race round the streets.
The Halfords Tour Series kicked off its 2010 edition in fine style with 50 of the best riders in the country taking part.
The criterium, or short course race, took place on a one kilometre looped course in the heart of the estate.
Despite the windy conditions, which caused a half-hour delay to the start of racing after some advertising hoardings were blown over, a good crowd lined the streets to watch the action unfold.
After an hour of racing, punctuated with intermediate sprints to and one or two riders crashing out on the tight bends, the teams in the peloton had five laps to try and manouevre themselves into winning positions.
CyclePremier.com-Metaltek's Tony Gibb crossed the line first in a bunch sprint to take individual victory, closely followed by 49-year-old veteran Malcolm Elliott of Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta with Rapha-Condor-Sharp's Dean Downing in third.
The Tour Series is a team event and it was the Rapha squad which claimed the win by placing their top three riders highest in the final classification. Endura Racing were second and Motorpoint third.
Downing (pictured below with his winning team and race winner Tony Gibb) was delighted with the result, and with the reception from the Canary Wharf crowd.
He said: "It was fantastic. It was very windy but it was a great circuit, very fast. The average speed was very high, well over 45kms an hour.
"It's a great start for the Rapha-Condor-Sharp team. We worked very hard tonight, having one rider in each move, and then it came to a sprint at the end and we had three riders in the top seven, which is what it's all about.
"It's a beautiful venue. It's impressive and the crowd was fantastic. I'd like to come back and ride here next year, because Canary Wharf has put on a great event."
Another rider pleased to have made his Wharf debut was Olympic champion and Motorpoint member Ed Clancy.
He said: "As far as crits go, it was a fairly easy course, but it was very windy, especially in between the buildings where the wind would catch you. So it wasn't easy for people to stay away in a break.
"It was quite dicey at the end because everyone was still together, but I quite enjoy that. It suits the old dogs like Malcolm Elliott rather than me because I'm not a master tactician. But we had a good time. It was a good opener and a good spectacle for the crowd."
Liam Holohan claimed the Boardman Bikes Sprints competition, taking second, fifth and first in the three sprints to claim the yellow jersey.
In the curtain raising Canary Wharf Corporate Grand Prix, presented by NYSE Euronext, Barclays Capital, helped by Rapha's British Champion Kristian House, took victory from Credit Suisse in a pro-am relay to raise money for The Prostate Cancer Charity.
The second round of the Halfords Tour Series is in Durham tomorrow evening and the series concludes in Woking on June 24.
And anyone whose appetite for professional road racing has been whetted by the Tour Series can look forward to the final stage of the Tour of Britain, which takes place around the Royal Docks on September 18.