Team Bike Sale
Zak Dempster leads Endura Racing back to winning ways in Tour Series
Driven by the disappointment of the result in Peterborough on Tuesday, Zak Dempster hit back by leading his team to the double of Individual and Team wins beneath the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf on Thursday.
As soon as Zak Dempster had arrived at the circuit with the team, he was on the rollers a long time before the start and it was clear to see he wanted the win on the night. But, with racing in this series harder than ever and the quality of the field these days also better than its ever been, winning is never a sure thing.
Part of a four man break that also included World Team Pursuit Champion Andy Tennant (Rapha Condor Sharp), Mike Northey (Node4-Giordana) and Chris Opie (Team UK Youth), Zak from Australia made no mistake in Canary Wharf by timing his sprint to perfection to get across the line first in a close battle with his New Zealand rival.
The race had begun with World Road Race Champion Mark Cavendish flagging the event away and when the race started in earnest after the first few steady laps behind the TV motorbike, the sight of riders being shelled out the back showed the pace was as high as ever in the 2012 series.
The circuit was fast with just four bends, two sharper than the others and being pan flat, attacks as ever came and went but it was difficult to break the elastic. Winner of two rounds, Scott Thwaites had several goes at doing it as did Russell Downing but it wasn’t until the second half of the race with fatigue setting in, that finally a break went clear.
The quartet didn’t have a big lead, 30 seconds or so and with Raleigh-GAC on the front in numbers trying to bring it back, it was touch and go whether the move would stick. Certainly they had no time for tactics up front as they gave it their all to stay clear. Into the final lap though, with that lead still intact on a circuit that was taking just over a minute to get round, Dempster was able to measure his effort better than on Tuesday where he went too early.
With a huge crowd cheering long and loud along with the cheerleaders on the other side of the barriers, Zak just had time to punch the air in delight before braking for the corner at the end of the finish straight.
I was very very disappointed to be fifth out of six riders in Peterborough on Tuesday. Livid I’d say! So I did 100km yesterday and today stayed in bed and rested and I just really needed that first win for the season. I’m not some one who can go a season without winning, I feel really crap about myself when that happens.
I was desperate for it, as I have all year so to finally get that first one in Endura Racing colours in May feels really really good. We wanted the individual win tonight. We go for the team prize every week but winning bike races is why I ride.
On that last lap, I had to be cool. We had a big enough gap to play it out. On Tuesday, I panicked and went early at 500 to go and ran fifth from six which is not good. So, today I had a gamble at the front but I knew Thwaitesy (Scott), Wilko (Ian Wilkinson), Jonny (McEvoy) and Russ (Downing) would be backing me up in the sprint as they’re probably the best sprinters in Britain.
We had a plan to make the race hard and we did that. It wasn’t easy getting away but there was a strong wind in here tonight and the race was getting faster and faster. That was good to see. When I came here first to the Tour Series, I’d say the criteriums were easy compared to the Bay Crits (Australian series in January) but now they are getting there. They’re really solid and everyone is having a go, it’s a great series
Julian Winn (Sporting Director):
The strategy was a little different tonight, to come into the race a little more in the second half and try and get a group away and then pack them up front in the sprint. Quite simple really. Zak did a great job tonight, really pleased for him as he really wanted it.
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Report and photos by Larry Hickmott | www.VeloUK.net