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Tour DoonHame Stage 2 – Sparling 50th Overall

report by Tour DoonHame

April 24, 2011 (Dumfries, Scotland) – In a welcome contrast to the savage conditions of stage 1, the second day of racing dawned with blue skies and the promise of sun once the early mist had cleared. The 118 riders who remained in contention gathered for the start of the shortest and – on paper – least testing stage of the 2011 Tour DoonHame.

Matt Cronshaw (Team Raleigh), resplendent in the yellow Scottish Power Renewables jersey of race leader carried a 9 second advantage over second place Zak Dempster (Rapha Condor Sharp) with the powerful kiwi Jack Bauer of Endura Racing 11 seconds off the lead in third.

Wearing the green jersey but lying second to Cronshaw in the sprints competition was big Magnus Backstedt (Team UK Youth) and a second place in the opening hot spot at Keir Mill (birthplace of the modern bicycle) was enough to give the Swede the jersey by right at the end of the stage.

Frequent early attacks were swiftly neutralized by a vigilant Team Raleigh, with Rapha also forcing the pace in the interests of second placed Dempster. Tom Southam in particular was the Rapha man in all the early moves. With only two classified climbs, both rating no higher than third category, Bauer’s efforts to retain the polka dot jersey were aided by a second place over the summit of Dalveen Pass, the spectacular scenery of the area shown to it’s best advantage by the now unbroken sunshine. A further placing on the second climb at Glengonnar would retain the Endura man’s grip on the climbers prize.

It was on the descent from Dalveen Pass with 32 miles covered that the peloton split into several groups and provided the ideal springboard for the attack launched by Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Sharp) and James Williamson (Sigmasport-Specialized). Covering the roads around Wanlockhead in the reverse direction to stage one, the two breakaway riders gradually increased their lead to a maximum of 1 minute 12 seconds by the 52 mile point. With both riders starting the day 1 minute 10 seconds behind Cronshaw, it made Downing the yellow jersey on the road.

Maintaining a similar gap for the next ten miles, despite Raleigh driving hard, it was the Dutchman Maarten de Jonge (Endura Racing) who broke clear and bridged the gap to the two leaders. Followed shortly afterward by five further attackers, the lead group now numbered eight with Evan Oliphant (Endura), Peter Williams (Motorpoint), Ross Creber (Cyclepremier-Metaltek), David McGowan (Team UK Youth) and David McCann (Giant Kenda/Felt Colbornes) joining the other three.

Approaching 15 miles to go it looked like the peloton would soon have them back as their advantage was reduced to just 15 seconds, but the gap grew again and stood at 40 seconds by the 70 mile point.

With the race once again on narrow twisting roads, and Team Raleigh again driving hard for Cronshaw, the gap began to close again. Despite an attempt by Oliphant and McCann to remain clear, the race was all back together within 5 miles of the finish, and a sizeable bunch sprint for the finish line in Dumfries was the prospect in store for the enthusiastic crowds lining the barriers by the riverside.

With a downhill approach to the line, it was Johnny McEvoy (Motorpoint) who produced the best sprint to take the stage victory with Zak Dempster again having to settle for second.

With one day to go, Cronshaw holds on to the yellow jersey by just 2 seconds from Dempster.

The final stage covers 91 miles and will see the race finally decided in Castle Douglas – the location at which Chris Newton secured his race win at the inaugural Tour DoonHame in 2010.

Results (brief)

1. Johnny McEvoy (Motorpoint) 3:11:16
2. Zak Dempster (Rapha – Condor)
3. Magnus Backstedt (Team UK Youth)
4. Marcel Six (Twenty3c – Orbea)
5. Chris Opie (Pendragon – LeCol)
6. Matt Cronshaw (Team Raleigh)
7. Tobyn Horton (Motorpoint)
8. Simon Gaywood (Corley Cycles)
9. Graham Briggs (Rapha – Condor)
10. Yanto Barker (Pendragon – LeCol)

88. James Sparling (Team Raleigh)

GC after Stage 2

1. Matt Cronshaw (Team Raleigh) 6:29:10
2. Zak Dempster (Rapha – Condor) 0:02
3. Jack Bauer (Endura Racing) 0:11
4. Yanto Barker (Pendragon – LeCol) 0:15
5. Steve Lampier (Sigma Specialized)
6. Matt Higgins (Corley Cycles)
7. Ian Bibby (Motorpoint)
8. Simon Richardson (Sigma Specialized) 0:20
9. Alex Wetterhall (Endura Racing) 1:07
10. Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing) 1:09

50. James Sparling (Team Raleigh) 1:28

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