Madison Genesis team dominated last Tuesday’s double-header OVO Energy Tour Series action around the cobbled streets of Durham and in doing so, opened an almost unprecedented 4-point lead in the all-important Men’s Team competition.
And Trek-Drops made a very welcome return to the Series in Aberystwyth on Saturday – the team’s defence of their 2017 crown has been severely hampered by clashing international race duties and injured riders – and returned straight to the Women’s winner’s podium taking the night’s Team result much to the delight of the riders and team personnel.
Having clearly picked a squad of riders who could compete in both the opening hill-climb and the evening’s later criterium – involving two totally different rider skill sets – it was Madison’s consistency that, although they may have missed out on the champagne of being individual winner’s in either event, meant the team travelled to Saturday’s Welsh round still wearing the coveted green OVO Series Leader’s jerseys.
But individual wins were so close in both events with Connor Swift and Richard Handley both missing out on the hill-climb top slot by less than two seconds.
In the tensely fought crit, Swift repeated his second-place hill-climb result but as the riders attacked the ultra-technical – and so aptly named ‘crash corner’ - on the final lap, it was Madison’s on-form Jonny McEvoy (recent winner of British Cycling’s Spring Series) who exited first and opened a small gap as the race fought for position on the final cobbled climb of the night.
But the Merseyside rider’s legs cried enough with just a few hundred metres to go leaving it to Swift to lead the team’s top four-point scoring riders – all of whom finished in the top 11 overall – across the finishing line.
“It was a good night, we all like Durham, everyone likes Durham,” said McEvoy afterwards. “It’s definitely the hardest Tour Series round. Everyone wants to win the race but the most important thing was the team. So we’re made out to come to with the result we did.”
The racing didn’t go as the Madison boys had hoped when they travelled to Wales with Swift again leading the Team points chase and being the only Madison Genesis representative in a group of eight riders who lapped the field.
But, overall, they still grouped on the road as a team to hold onto the overall Team lead by three points from erstwhile rivals JLT Condor with this final week’s challenging 3 races in four days to conclude this year’s Tour Series, hopefully repeating their 2016 Team series win.
For Trek-Drops, their emphasis has been on international competition in recent weeks with the UCI registered team on their Miami-blue Trek bikes having been so prominent in the Californian Amgen Women’s Race – taking second overall in the three-day race - but, on returning to the cut and thrust of the Tour Series, they immediately dropped into the intense flow of the racing.
Lizzie Holden worked tirelessly with double race winner Nikki Juniper in pursuing round winner Anna Henderson and although the Drops rider had to settle for third place across the line, added to Annie Simpson in 7th, Lucy Shaw in 11th and Manon Lloyd in 12th overall, those tight groupings were enough to ensure the 2017 champions returned to the OVO Team competition winning ways.