Tour Series - Canary Wharf

On Thursday I had the pleasure of heading down to see the finale of the Halfords Tour Series held at the prestigious Canary Wharf area in London. Rapha Condor Sharp took home the coveted title of Best Team Overall, managing to edge away and finish up 5 point in front of second placed Endura Racing. It was an action packed tight 1km course, around the central area of London's famous financial district, with rain further complication the nights racing by adding that element of danger into the mix. Last years champions Team Motorpoint had the honour of the race winning move, with their strong-legged talent Johnny McEvoy surging ahead in the final moments to power on across the line of second placed finisher Dean Downing, who had worked relentlessly in a break also driven by the absolute monster of power, former roubaix winner Maggy Bagstedt. He literally dieseled away on the front in a scary fashion, and judging by the poor blokes reaction when he crossed the line in fourth place, it was plain for all to see he had literally turned himself inside out for the duration of the race. Such an impressively aggressive  performance was truly wicked and exciting to see, and did nothing but endear me even more to the gentle giant of PR. Well done Magnus!
Tour spokesperson Peter Hodges gave us a walk around the sight and a little insight into the background workings of their event. This was really interesting, for example I learnt that Canary Wharf area is actually privately owned and managed, so learned from Peter how this impacted upon the organisation and permits for the race. Peter and the Tour Series team are also the same guys who put on the annual British extravaganza that is the Tour of Britain. 
I was allowed to wander into the team area and chat with some riders and take some snaps courtesy of the media pass (many thanks Ryan) so I went and wished good luck to Deano, I knew the guys had had a frustrating latter build up to today with some serious crashed marring their assault on the team points to take the title. It would be very close and I believe they were a mere 5 points in front of close runners Endura prior to the Wharf leg. Deano horsed around with Magnus and posed for some comedy pics, its pretty amazing when the riders are so approachable and good with their fans... I saw numerous riders happily taking the time to pose for photos and just generally chew the fat with racegoers, which gave a nice chilled vibe to the evening.
I had another little poke back in the race HQ whilst waiting for things to kick off, and even had a wee hold of the trophy. I can report that a) its the nearest il ever get to a cycling award and b) it weighs as much as a large dog! I think its made out of cast iron the things is that heavy.
The racing began and was pretty gung-ho from the oputset. A nice break with McEvoy, Maggy and Deano soon managed to build up a pretty decent gap, and as time went on this was held. What impressed me was a Le Col rider who had some trouble (maybe a mechanical) and was spat out the back, only to keep hammering to eventually join on. It was impressive the intensity he maintained to jump on and regroup. There were a couple of riders with mechanicals who took a lap out then bolted straight back into the pack. The speed really was ferocious, and I was unable to get a sharp picture even flashed in sports mode...
Team UK Youth in the drops. Loving the overshoes...
Riders beginning to string out
A Wilier rider tries to motor back on after a mechanical
'Motor'point seems such a fitting name. Gunning it on the straight
Endura keeping an eye on things
The peloton approaches the second corner
A Felt rider assesses jumping back on after a mechanical
Dean Downing of Rapha pushes through the first bend on course
Rich keeps his 'eyes off the prize'... sorry R, had to ;)
All sorts of spectators came out to enjoy the event, even the YMCA
Magnus looked completely screwed after the race - what a legend!
The Rapha boys sit backstage awaiting their podium ceremony
Rapha Condor Sharp take the overall win and trophy home
Podium champers antics
DS Jon Herety hands out goodies to kids in the crowd. Very sweet
Backstage horseplay as Dean chats to Ned Boulting
Many thanks to Ryan & Peter and everyone helping and assisting to run a great nights racing. If you get the chance to visit one of these crits id highly recommend it, the racing and atmosphere is super, and the guys turning themselves inside out appreciate all the support they can get. Keep your eyes peeled for a Tour of Britain stage coming to a city near you soon!

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