Endura rider Rob Partridge wins in Oldham (photo credit: Tour Series/VeloUK)

Endura Racing break the Rapha Condor Sharp dominance

Series leaders ‘only’ third, as Rob Partridge flies to narrow victory in Oldham

Like buses Endura Racing wait the whole Halfords Tour Series for a win to come along, and then they take two in a week, as Rob Partridge took victory in the Series first appearance in Greater Manchester at Oldham on Thursday night.

Partridge took a narrow victory over Motorpoint’s Marcin Bialoblocki, who appeared to celebrate too soon as they hit the line, raising an arm in salute and allowing the Endura Rider to pip him to the win in a photo finish.  Defeat was a bitter pill for Bialoblocki, who had heroically ridden across a 20-second gap to the four leaders in the last few laps.

Partridge’s win helped Endura to also defeat reigning Halfords Tour Series Champions Motorpoint by the narrowest of margins, as both teams tied on the placing of their three riders, so the Welsh rider’s win gave Endura Racing their first team victory of 2011 and broke the Rapha Condor Sharp dominance.

Rapha Condor Sharp remain at the top of the standings, despite only coming third on the evening, their worst performance of the 2011 Halfords Tour Series season, although their lead slips to just seven points over Endura Racing with two rounds to go.

A tough town centre circuit with very little flat welcome The Halfords Tour Series to Oldham, for the unique team based series’ first visit to Greater Manchester.  As at the previous round at Stoke-on-Trent the pace was high from the start, with splits forming soon after the start as attacks came and went.

A large group of around 12 riders from a variety of teams went clear early on, but as that faltered the move that mattered though formed from it with just under half the race to go, as four riders pulled out a 20-second gap in one tour of the Oldham circuit.  The big three teams were represented with Partridge, Ian Bibby and Dean Downing, with Team Raleigh’s Liam Holohan making up the quartet.

Behind the main field came back together and briefly gave chase, but after getting the group within sight on the long drag past the pits and the finish line, the fight seemed to leave the peloton and victory would go to one of the four in front.

However Motorpoint’s Bialoblocki felt otherwise, jumping out of the main field with seven laps to go and slowly inching his way across to join teammate Bibby at the front with four laps to go.

With two in the front group Oldham looked set to witness Motorpoint’s first win of the Series, with Bibby particularly proactive on a circuit that suited his talents.

Entering the final straight those it was the white jersey of Holohan that appeared to lead from the final corner up the rise to the line, as all five riders went wheel-to-wheel for victory.

Bialoblocki appeared to have it and his first ever Halfords Tour Series win, but instead it was Partridge’s late head down lunge on the near side that swept him past the Pole to his first victory in the Series.

Behind Holohan and Bibby swept across, also within touching distance of the front two, as Downing surprisingly came home in last position among the five leaders.

Behind the excitement in front, Ed Clancy moved clear of the field in the final laps to cross the line alone in sixth, for Rapha Condor Sharp, taking a late flyer to try and secure a better team result on the night.

Ian Wilkinson led in the main field for Endura, and with teammate Jack Bauer in ninth their 1, 7 and 9 was equal to Motorpoint’s 2, 4 and 11 for Bialoblocki, Bibby and McEvoy, but Partridge’s win meant the honours went to Endura.

Motorpoint take their second success second place of the Series, although their improved form has come too late to see them defend their title, but does move them clear of Sigma Sport – Specialized in third, with Holohan’s result helping to move Team Raleigh up to fifth ahead of Team UK Youth.

With just two races to go Rapha Condor Sharp look set for glory, barring a final week disaster, with only Endura Racing now capable of beating them to the title.  There is still all to play for in the midfield, with just ten points separating fourth down to ninth.

In the Boardman Bikes Sprints competition Partridge also took the honours on the night, moving into third position in the competition, which Kristian House still leads by some distance.

Week Four of The Halfords Tour Series sees the final two rounds of the 2011 Series, with Round Seven taking place at the popular Surrey venue of Woking on Tuesday 14th June before Canary Wharf hosts the Grand Finale, Round Eight, on Thursday 16th June.  The Canary Wharf Corporate Grand Prix will once again raise the curtain on a final evening of the unique team based series, that will see the final destination of the five Halfords orange leader’s jerseys decided.

Round Six, Oldham, Results

Team Results

  1. Endura Racing
  2. Motorpoint Pro Cycling
  3. Rapha Condor Sharp
  4. Team Raleigh
  5. Sigma Sport – Specialized
  6. Team UK Youth
  7. CyclePremier.com Metaltek
  8. Pendragon Le Col Colnago
  9. Twenty3c Orbea
  10. Wilier GoSelfDrive.com

Individual Results

  1. Rob Partidge                            Endura Racing
  2. Marcin Bialoblocki                Motorpoint Pro Cycling
  3. Liam Holohan                          Team Raleigh
  4. Ian Bibby                                   Motorpoint Pro Cycling
  5. Dean Downing                          Rapha Condor Sharp
  6. Ed Clancy                                   Rapha Condor Sharp
  7. Ian Wilkinson                           Endura Racing
  8. Jeroen Janssen                        Team Raleigh
  9. Jack Bauer                                 Endura Racing
  10. Dean Windsor                           Rapha Condor Sharp

Boardman Bikes Sprints winner

  1. Rob Partridge                           Endura Racing

Team Standings, after Round Six

  1. Rapha Condor Sharp                         58pts
  2. Endura Racing                                     51pts
  3. Motorpoint Pro Cycling                   38pts
  4. Sigma Sport – Specialized                35pts
  5. Team Raleigh                                        32pts
  6. Team UK Youth                                   31pts
  7. Pendragon Le Col Colnago              26pts
  8. CyclePremier.com Metaltek          26pts
  9. Twenty3c Orbea                                  25pts
  10. Wilier GoSelfDrive.com                    8pts

Boardman Bikes Sprints standings, after Round Six

  1. Kristian House             Rapha Condor Sharp                27pts
  2. Marcel Six                     Twenty3c Orbea                       18pts
  3. Rob Partridge               Endura Racing                         17pts

The race report on Round 5 can be found here. For more information from the Halfords Tour Series, visit: www.tourseries.co.uk And for more images from the racing, visit Velo UK.

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