|CLUB ELECTRIC GRAND PRIX|
PROFESSIONAL Brian Smith outsprinted Olympic pursuit champion Chris Boardman to win Sunday's Club Electric Grand Prix, promoted by Manchester Wheelers over a gruelling Derbyshire Peak District course.
The 10th round of the Premier Calendar produced a superb race with an attack in the first mile, a day-long break, and no complaints from any of the survivors of a hot and windy 110 miles.
It was Smith's second win of the season and a welcome revenge for his resounding defeat at Boardman's hands in the Tour of Lancashire. As for Boardman, beaten by three lengths in the two-man sprint, he was pleased to last the distance so well after a week spent at Bordeaux preparing for his forthcoming attack on the world hour record.
Wayne Randle, instigator of the decisive break, reaped his reward by taking third place despite suffering cramp in both legs, while the other survivors of the 110-mile break, Douglas Ryder (South Africa) and Paul Curran (Dinnington RC), held on to fourth and fifth places respectively.
'My Uncle Pete (Longbottom) told me to go from the gun,' said Boardman, a newcomer to this Grand Prix's Peak District roads. Smith, too, was prepared for an early break, recalling a previous running of the event when he punctured when in with a winning chance.
A total of 29 riders failed to line up for the start in Buxton. They included Milk Race men Tony Doyle, suffering a heavy cold, and Ben Luckwell, reason unknown. It left a 75-man bunch to head out of town where Randle duly obliged by storming into the attack. Smith joined him and a leading group rapidly formed.
With Curran, Boardman, Ryder and Bruce Scott (Delta RT) completing the breakaway sextet, this was clearly a dangerous move, although it was reduced to a quintet within a few miles when Scott suffered a bout of sickness and dropped back.
Ahead of the leaders lay the 18-mile circuit of Tideswell, Stoney Middleton, Grindleford, Hathersage and Bradwell Hill to be covered five times before the run back to the Buxton finish.
While the leaders slowly gained ground, several short-lived chase groups went clear of the bunch, eventually merging at about the 40-mile mark into one 20-man group some two minutes down on the leaders and three minutes clear of the main bunch.
A good crowd on the long, exposed Bradwell climb saw Boardman jumping away to take the £10 hill prime each time, quickly amassing an unbeatable lead in the climbers' competition. Smith was riding his usual canny race, while Randle was having to take his feet out of the pedals to ease cramp.
With 51 miles done in the first two hours a useful chasing group was formed by Archer GP winner Dave Williams (RT Italia), 19-year-old Nick Keane (Rennrad Club), Lincoln GP winner Keith Reynolds (Banana), FBD Milk Ras stage winner John Tanner (Neilson-Tivoli) and Lee Davies, the Boumemouth Arrow prospect who just missed out on a Milk Race placing this season.
But although the chasers were determined, the five men out in front never looked in danger.
The fourth and penultimate ascent of Bradwell saw Boardman turn on a quick sprint to collect more points, while Matt Stephens (RT Italia), Toby Pinn (CC Giro) and Mark Lovatt (SG Bollington) jumped across the gap to join the chasers.
Boardman staged his now-customary attack last time up the Bradwell climb but he didn't have enough in his legs to press it home. Smith countered and the five rolled over the summit still together.
At last they turned off the circuit and headed for Peak Forest and the finish, some 10 miles distant. Now the wind took a hand, mainly a tail-cum-crosswind as they tackled a long drag on the A623.
Randle attacked. Smith countered and went clear. He was a 100 yards up the road before Boardman gave chase. The break blew apart and all five men were riding individual pursuits behind the flying Smith.
It took the world's best amateur pursuiter four miles to catch Smith. 'I made him work for it,' Smith said later. But once together they shared the work, while behind them Randle ploughed a lone furrow, trying to resist the pain from his cramped knees. Ryder and Curran, out of the hunt, joined forces to stay clear of the pursuers in the closing miles.
A sharp left and right off the A6 took the leaders into the short finishing straight. Boardman led out, Smith on his wheel. Smith waited for the 200-metre flag then jumped round his opponent. There was a few seconds of token resistance from Boardman before he bowed to the inevitable, and watched Smith take the chequered flag by three lengths.
The chasers had split again in the last 15 miles and it was Reynolds who reaped the reward for his effort by taking sixth place at the head of a four-man group, while Mark Walsham sprinted home 11th to safeguard his overall lead in the Premier Calendar.
'WINNER Brian Smith claimed he had no qualms about a head-to-head sprint with Chris Boardman. 'I was feeling strong enough and I knew he wasn't going so well when he nearly stopped and went right through the gears last time up the prime hill.
'Everybody did their share and worked in the break, it was just like riding a 100-mile team time trial. This makes up for when I was here once be-fore and should have won, but I punctured and finished sixth in a six-up break.'
All the riders in the winning break were well known to each other except South Africa's Douglas Ryder. The 21-year-old from Capetown was having his second race after only 10 days in the country, following up his 21st place in the Lincoln Grand Prix.
Ryder, a bronze medallist in the SA road championship, said: 'That was one of the hardest races I've ever ridden. You could never rest, there were no weak guys to slow the pace.'
He enjoyed the experience, but was less than happy to be told that Sunday's moderate heat was 'about as warm as it gets overt here.'
1. Brian Smith (Banana Energy Fruit) 110m in 4-24-37
2. Boardman (North Wirral Velo) st
3. W. Randle (Neilson-Tivoli) at 22sec
4. Ryder (South Africa) at 1-31
5. P. Curran (Dinnington RC) st
6. K. Reynolds (Banana) at 4-11
7. D. Williams (RT Italia)
8. M. Stephens (RT Italia)
9. L. Davies (Bournemouth Arrow) all st
10. M. Walsham (unsponsored) at 5-47
11. C. Lillywhite (Banana)
12. N. Hoban (Neilson-Tivoli)
13. S. Farrell (Tunstall Wh)
14. L. Oliver (South Africa) all st
15. Perks (CC Giro) at 6-22
16. G. Coltman (Raleigh) at 7-01
17. M. Lovatt (SG Bollington) at 7-37
18. Edwards (CC Luton)
19. Hardy (Letchworth Velo)
20. Pinn (CC Giro) all st.