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More on the National Crit Champs

In baking sunshine 83 riders lined up to tackle 48 laps of a tight and
twisting circuit around the streets of Birmingham.
After the neutralized first lap the race got off to a frantic [pace,
with defending champion Chris Walker never further than 3 places from the
front. Meanwhile Pro-Visions John Tanner looked to be struggling and never
out of last 3 as the bunch wound its way through the cobbled city centre
streets.
At half distance an 8 man break formed which included Chris Walker, Johnny
Clay, Rob Hayles, most of the main contenders for the title. John Tanner had
managed to claw his way to the front of the bunch and bridged the gap. With
10 laps to go Dean Downing and Chris Walker jumped away from the front of
the break and buried themselves to gain a 10 second advantage. Then
disaster struck when both riders crashed on one of the sharper bends, but
the rules in criterium racing are that you can take 1 lap out of the race
for a mechanical problem. So the duo took their lap out and rejoined the
other 6 riders in the break. With 1 lap to go Tanner, not fancying his
chances in a sprint finish made a huge effort to drop his companions, but
was quickly reeled in by Walker. Walker then wound up the sprint and easily
won it from Rob Hayles, with Dean Downing in 3rd and John Tanner in 4th.

Then more drama unfolded as a BCF official had realized that Walker and
Downing after their crash had took a short cut to get back to the pits for
their lap out. Therefore had not completed the full race distance and were
duly disqualified, with the result now standing as
Hayles 1st,
Tanner 2nd,
Malarczyk 3rd.

There was a lot of protesting from the riders trying to persuade the
officials to let the original result stand, but rules are rules and
officials are only interested in technicalities not in the riders point of
view. Before the race Walker had been telling people this was to be his last
season racing and it seems now his long and distinguished career will end
with a sour note.




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