MAKING a rare racing appearance in the UK, city cyclist Ian Stannard starred in the prestigious IG London Nocturne at the iconic Smithfield Market on Saturday evening, winning both headline races against some top draw international opposition and the cream of home based talent.
Following his spring campaign in his favoured cobbled ‘Classics’, the Team Sky man has more recently played a key role in helping Britain’s world champion Mark Cavendish to a hat-trick of sprint wins in the three-week long Giro d’Italia, often seen dragging the whole peloton along in his wake for a 100kms or more at a time.
But the Nocturne gave Stannard the chance to star in his own right, and the 25-year-old grasped that opportunity with both hands in front of a crown of more than 10,000 cheering spectators.
As an early evening warm-up to the main event of the night, Stannard lined up with nine other riders in a knockout race that saw the last man across the line on each lap eliminated from the competition.
By keeping his nose at the front of the high speed train throughout, Stannard chalked up win number one.
As his racing programme since he turned professional in 2008 has mainly seen him race abroad, it’s difficult to recall when Stannard actually last won a race on his home roads. But he didn’t have to wait long for more success on the night.
A field of around 50 top riders then lined up for the feature race – the nearly one hour long floodlit Saint-Gobain Elite Criterium, and from the start Stannard was clearly one of the strongest men on the road.
Joined by three others, including Sky team-mate Davide Appollonio, he was part of a fearsome quartet at the front of the race – and such was their pace that they went on to lap the entire field before Stannard took the chequered flag at the end.
“It was a fantastic night and it was a great race,” he said. “The crowd was phenomenal – so many people coming out to watch a street bike race in Britain is fantastic
“With the Olympics just around the corner it really doesn’t get any better.”
>> You can watch TV highlights of the race this Sunday on Channel 4 at 7.10am.