Blain wins Maldon Dengie Tour
Endura Racing's great start to the season continued today in Essex when Alexandre Blain won the Maldon Dengie Tour, the first Premier Calendar event of 2012.
With the best British teams clashing for the first time in 2012, winning the Premier Calendar event, the Maldon Dengie Tour was never going to be easy for Endura Racing. The team met the challenge head on though and the rider with the best legs on the day, Alex Blain, joined the list of riders from Endura Racing to have won this year already.
From the moment the race started, Endura Racing were in the thick of the action, leading from the front and when the crucial move came, they had three riders in it; Ian Wilkinson, Alex Blain and Jonny McEvoy. The latter punctured and Endura Racing was then facing a threat to that much sought after victory from several teams who out numbered them. Julian Winn, sporting director for Endura Racing, admitted at the time in the race he would have preferred a third rider there but had confidence in Wilkinson and Blain.
As one rider said afterwards, Blain was always on the front through the off road sections which he enjoys and Ian Wilkinson had many digs off the front when the race was on the tarmac.
The finale of the race saw three off road sections and Blain's power saw off the threat from the GB Academy riders and a select group got away where the numbers were better for us. After the seventh sector of the race with two to go, Alex Blain had tried to get clear with Simon Richardson (IG Markets-Sigma Sport) but that was brought back.
Ian Wilkinson then made his move to draw the sting from Blain's rivals. For a good four or five kilometres, Wilkinson was off the front and when caught, continued to keep the pace high until he blew. It was down to Blain then.
As the final two sectors came and went, more riders were shelled out leaving only four riders to contest the finish. Matt Cronshaw (Node4 Giordana) opened it up early and Blain, who had been told of Cronshaw's sprint by Wilkinson, took his wheel before making his move down the left and won the race by several lengths.
It was a very tactical race and very hard. Endura Racing has a very good team which is ranked European number 1 so the pressure was on us to prove why we are number one when racing in Britain.
Ian (Wilkinson) told me when we were in the front, he wasn't on his best day so I ask him to work a bit more and he did really well. I tried to force it in each sector but sometimes that wasn't enough so we were attacking a lot on the road and Wilko was there to cover the attacks when the race lit up. He did a really good job. Before the last two sectors, he went away on his own and he forced the others to work behind so that was perfect for me.
Alex was masterful in the sprint, choosing the right moment to make his move:
I knew it was not going to be a fast sprint, after 160k in this type of race, it’s about power and who has the most energy left in the legs and I know this is my type of sprint. I train a lot for power sprints, and I knew this would be good for me. I waited for someone to lead and I knew it was a long way to go. I waited and then like a track sprinter came past him and although I was cramping, I think everybody was the same, and I just kept forcing it to the line, it was a good finish.
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Report and photos by Larry Hickmott | www.VeloUK.net
Video from British Cycling's Premier Calendar YouTube Channel