Drucker, Guarischi and Alldis Conquer RideLondon-Surrey Classic

classic-winner-15(300)Jean-Pierre Drucker produced the sprint of his life to win the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic today beating Britain’s Ben Swift and Dutchman Mike Teunissen on The Mall in central London to claim the first victory of his professional career.

The 28-year-old was part of an eight-strong group of cyclists that burst clear of the peloton with a quarter of the 200-kilometre race to go before four riders hared up Whitehall and under Admiralty Arch in pursuit of glory.

Swift led them up The Mall with the Finish Line in sight and Buckingham Palace visible in the distance, the Team Sky sprinter desperate to make amends for last year when he lost by a hair’s width to Adam Blythe.

But Drucker had been tailing him home and the Luxembourg rider launched his attack with 50 metres to go, surprising the Briton and Lotto NL-Jumbo’s Teunissen to take a hard-earned victory built on brilliant teamwork by his experienced BMC Racing Team.

Drucker threw his arm in the air as he crossed the line to thunderous roars, a huge grin breaking out on his bearded face.

“To get my first professional win in front of Buckingham Palace is so special,” said Drucker. “The crowd here is so crazy about cycling, it’s fantastic to get my first win here.

“I love racing in England. I did the Tour of Yorkshire this year and that was fantastic too. After getting my first pro win here, I love it even more.”

Swift broke his shoulder in the Yorkshire race but fought his way back from surgery to bid for victory in this event, still smarting from last year’s defeat. He led the three medallists in a hard chase along Millbank to reel in Teunissen’s team-mate Sep Vanmarcke, who had made a lone bid for victory 12km out.

Once they’d overpowered the Belgian, all the smart money was on the Sheffield man, a renowned finishing kicker. But Drucker had finished just behind ‘Manx missile’ Mark Cavendish in California earlier this year and was confident of his chances.

“I was feeling good all day and at the end I just kept my eye on Swift,” said Drucker. “I could see he was very motivated and really wanted victory in front of his own crowd. I knew he would go for the win, but I worked hard as well.

“I’m a fast guy too and I just tried not to make any mistakes. I love it when it’s hard and that was our plan. We tried to make it a hard race by moving guys to the front. It always feels so good when a plan works out.”

As for Swift, in the end he was happy enough to make the podium for the second year in a row after missing three months’ training, although he admitted to miscalculating his finish.

“I had to go really hard in the last few kilometres and I started to cramp up a little bit from the effort of chasing,” said Swift. “Even though I’d have loved to have won, I’m really, really happy.

“I had three months out of competition so this is a really nice way to come back to racing and get a good result straight away. It was good to be on the podium.

“I couldn’t see any metres-to-go boards so I got caught on the front, trying to get the others to come round me, but you could see the guys coming from behind so you couldn’t play too much cat-and-mouse.”

As for Cavendish, the much-fancied Briton was missing his key lead-out man Mark Renshaw and was not at his best after a week-long illness following the Tour de France. It quickly became clear that he wasn’t going to save himself for a final sprint as he spearheaded not one, but two attacks during the race, and coasted home 44th.

In fact, Cavendish was barely out of the camera lens in the early stages as he could be seen chatting with Britain’s other big-name star Sir Bradley Wiggins as the field of 143 riders rolled off the red carpet and away from the signing-on point at Horse Guards Parade, and he was among a group of four in a mini-break shortly after the peloton passed over Hampton Court Bridge.

The Briton was soon at the back of the race, however, where he stopped to receive mechanical attention to the front of his bike, leaving him briefly off the pace.

Madison Genesis rider Erick Rowsell, brother of Olympic gold medallist and RideLondon-Surrey 100 rider Joanna, was among a group of five who then escaped  as the peloton rattled through Byfleet to Ripley and on to the sun-splashed Surrey countryside.

Another Briton, Peter Williams of One Pro Cycling, was also in the breakaway, along with the young Italian Riccardo Stacchiotti of Vini Fantini, Topspot Vlaanderen’s Sander Helven, and Lander Seynaeve of Wanty-Group Gobert.

They opened a gap of five minutes with just over a quarter of the race gone and stayed away over the first four of the event’s five categorised climbs up Leith Hill and over Ranmore Common three times.

Rowsell, from Sutton, was racing in his own backyard and the Surrey man used his local knowledge to lead up the narrow lanes and over the summits, amassing points for the King of the Mountains competition, while Williams concentrated on securing the sprint title, out-battling Stacchiotti for the honour.

BMC sent their young Dutch stagiaire Floris Gerts up the road to try and bridge the gap, and by the time they’d completed the three Ranmore loops, he had replaced Seynaeve among the leaders. The peloton broke up on the third Ranmore climb, and Lotto NL-Jumbo charged out to reel them in like a pack of wolves hunting down their prey.

Seven men reached the base of Box Hill with just over 50km to go. But their time alone was numbered and Gerts’s team-mates Philippe Gilbert and Rohan Dennis emerged from the pack for the first time to lead the chase up the slopes, driving on at the top in an attempt to leave the race sprinters in their wake.

With an hour’s racing still to go, it was now a case of heads down for the city. Cavendish briefly launched himself out in front with Dennis, then eight burst clear to open a gap that grew to more than a minute as they reached Kingston for a second time.

Among them were Swift, Drucker, Vanmarcke and Tuenissen. The gap grew to two-and-a-half minutes and with just 15km to go the main field called off the hunt.

Vanmarcke attacked as they skirted Wimbledon Common and he opened a 16-second lead as he crossed the river at Putney Bridge. A well-practised one-day rider, the Belgian seemed to be pulling away. But he was he gasping for air, and the lead vanished as Swift led the chasers on the run-in to along Millbank and past the Houses of Parliament.

It was a hard slog. Too hard as it turned out for the Briton, as Drucker burst off his shoulder for the win of his life.

Swift may have missed out, but there was some good news for Britain as a delighted Rowsell bagged the King of the Mountains contest on the rolling hills he’s been riding since he was 14.

“They are all local roads to me,” said the 25-year-old. “I grew up riding around here and have been up Box Hill and Leith Hill hundreds of times. I knew no one in the race would know these hills as well as me.

“So to win King of the Mountains here made it a perfect day.”

It was a perfect day for Jean-Pierre Drucker too.

 

Defending champion Adam Blythe talks team tactics ahead of the Classic

The Orica-GreenEDGE rider expects this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic to come down to a bunch sprint on The Mall when the riders roll into the capital after conquering the Surrey Hills.

 

 

Guarischi pays tribute to her team after Grand Prix win

Velocio Sports deliver team leader Barbara Guarischi to the line in the Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix.

 

Alldis makes it third time lucky to win Handcycle Classic

A bad night’s sleep couldn’t stop Brian Alldis from fulfilling his dream of winning the 2015 Prudential RideLondon Handcycle Classic.

Austria’s Ablinger wins again in RideLondon HandCycle Classic

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Austria’s Ablinger wins again in Prudential RideLondon HandCycle Classic
Walter Ablinger continued a remarkable series of victories in the UK capital when he won the Prudential RideLondon HandCycle Classic on The Mall this morning 12 months after becoming the event’s first ever handcycle champion in last year’s criterium race.

The Austrian, who won Paralympic gold in London two years ago, today left the world’s best riders floundering in his wake as he sped over the 15-mile course from Kingston upon Thames to central London in less than 40 minutes.

 

Prudential RideLondon 2014

Walter Ablinger

“I’m so happy to win again because that was a tough race,” said the victorious Ablinger after crossing the line in 39 minutes 19 seconds. “After the Paralympics in London and the world championships, London seems to be a good place for me.”

“This is my third race here since the Paralympics and I’ve won them all. I wish I could race here every week. Perhaps I should emigrate here.”

A minute and a half behind the flying Austrian was Britain’s Brian Alldis, last year’s runner-up, who was forced to settle for second again when Ablinger opened an unbridgeable gap on a downhill stretch after eight miles.

“It was a long course and there were some tricky climbs, which I hadn’t expected,” said Ablinger, who arrived in rainy London from sunny Spain just one day before the race. “Brian and I worked together well in the first half, then I lost him going down hill and tried to do the last eight miles by myself.”

“I kept my speed high to the end and am really happy to win here again. I didn’t think I could go on my own, so it was a surprise to pull away.”

Alldis had trouble with rain on his racing glasses but held on to second after a sprint finish with Switzerland’s three-times Paralympic champion Heinz Frei.

“I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest, because I was planning to be on top of the podium this year,” said Alldis, who won this year’s Para-cycling World Cup.

“But with such a strong rider I have to happy with second. It’s no wonder he’s world champion in his class. He rode away from me so easily.”

“I will definitely do it again next year and go for top spot. Let’s hope it’s third time lucky.”

Fellow Briton Karen Darke was an emotional winner of the women’s race ahead of Switzerland’s Sandra Graf just a year after being involved in a career-threatening accident with a car.

Darke pulled away from the Paralympic and world champion around the 10-mile point and cruised under the finish gantry in The Mall in 45:52, 40 seconds ahead of her chaser.

Prudential RideLondon 2014

Karen Darke

“Two months before last year’s race I was hit by a car and I limped around the course wondering if I’d ever be able to race properly again.”

“It’s so lovely to be back and to be able to win in this way. I feel very lucky.”

“I’ve not been going that well in road races,” added Darke, who won Paralympic bronze at London 2012. “But this is a really good course with a few wicked hills. I’ve got the worlds in three weeks time so it gives me great confidence for those.”

“The rain today was no trouble at all. I live in Inverness, so this is nothing.”

Another Briton, Jennifer Browning, was third, nearly seven minutes behind Graf.

 

 

 

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