The excitement generated on the streets of Milton Keynes and Exeter for the first two rounds of the Tour Series ramps up as the event enters its twice-weekly phase.
Woking and Peterborough are the locations for rounds three and four, and the teams arrive in a trail of praise for city centre circuit racing from spectators, organisations and the riders themselves.
Exeter also saw the arrival of the ‘big guns’, and with such names as Russell Downing, Rob Hayles, Kristian House and Ed Clancy taking the line the racing was always going to set the streets alight.
The team competition is now neck and neck as Rapha-Condor moved onto 20 points to join Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta at the head of the Tour Series team standings. However, Candi TV go to Woking in the leaders’ blue jerseys by virtue of a countback system on team positions over the first two races. Ed Clancy leads the Series’ Points competition overall after taking two of the three sprints at Exeter.
Team selections from here on will be tweaks, as opposed to major overhauls, as most of the teams have shown their cards in this game of cycle-poker. However, with a few notable absentees in the form of Halfords man Ian Wilkinson, Olympian Chris Newton and Sport Beans rider Marcin Babiolocki we can still expect some of the teams to bolster their strength. The team ethic that is at the heart of the Tour Series is also beginning to be grasped. In Exeter, riders were seen to be cajoling team mates into forward positions to enable the first three across the line. With big prizes available to teams this will only get more tactical as the series goes on.
The tour arrives in Woking today (June 2) and Peterborough on Thursday (June 4). Woking boasts a highly-technical circuit, based firmly in the centre of the town. A hairpin, a stiffish climb and a sweeping descent all await the riders, along with what is expected to possibly be the largest crowd in this year’s Series.
Peterborough serves up an excellent circuit of 90 degree corners and long straights, which should guarantee some super-fast racing once again. The start / finish on Bridge Street, turns into the dog-leg straight on Church Street before entering the long, sweeping back straight on Bourges Blvd - encompassing the historic Peterborough central areas – before returning to Bridge Street.
As has been the case to date in this series, each venue has worked hard to ensure that the festival element of race-day is upheld. Both Milton Keynes and Exeter offered up a fantastic array of support events, graffiti artists, corporate races and street performers. This week will be no different with supporting events planned from 2pm onwards at both venues.
The Peterborough stage is preceeded by the Travel Choice Time Trial that gives amateurs the chance to use the circuit for an hour and have two flying laps, the aggregate time for which determines overall positions. The TT is a great opportunity to test out skills on a traffic free, city-centre circuit and is an excellent way of engaging the cyclist who would much rather be in the thick of the action than behind the crash barrier.
Expect usual the usual race reports, images and website updates over the coming week, and also look out for the post-race podcast from ITV man Ned Boulting, exclusively on www.tourseries.co.uk, together with highlights on ITV4 at 7pm Wednesday and Friday night.
For more information check out www.tourseries.com