Chatburn ace confident of race win

Ian Wilkinson, from Chatburn, leads his new Pedal Heaven team-mates on a training ride earlier this winter. Picture: Hugh McManus (compulsory credit)
Ian Wilkinson, from Chatburn, leads his new Pedal Heaven team-mates on a training ride earlier this winter. Picture: Hugh McManus (compulsory credit)

Ian Wilkinson has insisted Pedal Heaven have the firepower to win the 50th Clayton Spring Classic on Sunday.

The 36-year-old, who lives in Chatburn, signed for the newly-promoted UCI Continental team at the back end of last year.

He will make his debut for the Hampshire outfit alongside David McGowan, Jack Pullar, Jacob Tipper, James Gullen and Jake Womersley this weekend.

The traditional northern road race season-opener has also attracted the likes of Ian Bibby, of NFTO, and Luke Grivell-Mellor, from JLT Condor.

But Wilkinson, who is a two-time Rutland-Melton winner, reckons his new team are major contenders for victory in the 58-mile handicap battle, hosted by Cycle Sport Pendle: “We definitely have the strength to win it.

“There are some great riders in the north, like Ian Bibby, but we have got a really strong team in for the race.

“I am going all right and I can’t wait to get stuck in, with the added motivation of it being my local race.

“All things being well, no punctures and no mechanicals, we should have a really good chance of winning.”

The Clayton Spring Classic, based at Edisford School, is a handicap race, with three groups beginning at different times on the 3.9-mile Bashall circuit.

Wilkinson and his fellow elite and category one riders will start seven-and-a-half minutes adrift of the juniors, who will kick proceedings off.

In between, at four minutes, will be the category two, three and four contenders.

Wilkinson knows the scratch group must work together it they are to close the gap and have a chance of following in the footsteps of former winners such as Ian Stannard, of Team Sky, and Rob Hayles.