Previews Races

2019 East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix: men’s race preview

Preview of Round 1 of the National Road Series

The National Road Series kicks off this Sunday with the East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix road race. Here’s a preview of men’s race, including the British Conti Insider’s race predictions.

What is it?

The East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix is the first round of the new HSBC UK | National Road Series, taking place this year on Sunday 14 April. The race will see all of the British Continental and top elite teams going head-to-head for the first time this season. It is the third edition of the race, and this year will be the first time a men’s and women’s race has taken place on the same day.

The first edition in 2017 came down to a reduced bunch finish with Chris Latham taking the honours ahead of Enrique Sanz and Harry Tanfield. Last year Tom Pidcock won in a two-up sprint against Tom Moses, with Jonny McEvoy rounding out the podium. Pidcock won’t be back to defend his title this year as he is riding the U23 Tour of Flanders the day before.

Click here for the provisional start list.

The ‘parcours’ offers a bit of everything. Some climbing, some exposed areas that could give way to side-winds and echelons, fast descents, a town centre finish

British Conti Insider
The peloton goes through Saltburn-by-the-sea during the 2018 East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

The route

The race is starts and finishes in Guisborough on the edge of the North York Moors, taking in Teeside coastline by Saltburn-by-the-sea.

The men’s race is 169.1km long and takes in 3 laps of the long circuit (see map below). They then face 1 lap of the short circuit before heading back to Guisborough for the finish. The women’s race, meanwhile, is 111.6km long and features 2 laps of the long circuit before the run home to Guisborough.

It’s a course that includes repeated visits to a number of climbs, including Saltburn Bank Burn, a short sharp climb with an average gradient of 14.7%, maxing out at 16.5%. Exposed sections along the coast also offer the potential for echelons if crosswinds are apparent.

It’s often overlooked, but a strong and dominant performance in the early races can set a precedent for the rest of the season and put competitors on the back foot

British Conti Insider

The British Conti Insider’s view

Our ‘British Conti Insider’ is an active DS with experience in the UK and abroad.

Star Trophy, Premier Calendar, Spring Cup… call them what you will. They come and they go. Over the decades there have been some great races, and conversely, there have been some damp squibs. But I truly hope the East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix is here for a good few years because they are doing some excellent work putting on what is for me, one of the best racing circuits of the season. Let me explain…

Tom Pidcock of Team Wiggins wins the 2018 East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix
Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

The ‘parcours’ offers a bit of everything. Some climbing, some exposed areas that could give way to side-winds and echelons, fast descents, a town centre finish and a KOM up Saltburn lined with some of the best crowds the National Road Series will experience. All of this adds to a team’s desire to have a good show and, importantly, a solid first round. It’s often overlooked, but a strong and dominant performance in the early races can set a precedent for the rest of the season and put competitors on the back foot. It’s a race-able distance too at nearly 170km.

It’s a course and race that suits a fast finisher, not necessarily a pure sprinter – witnessed by the previous winners: Latham and Pidcock. It’s up to the stronger teams to look after their designated leader, get them to the final lap in good shape, and then let them roll the dice on the run-in back to Guisborough… hopefully avoiding any last kilometre pile-ups ‘à la’ 2017.

If Team Wiggins Le Col play their cards right, I can’t see Gabz Cullaigh being beaten

British Conti Insider

Despite the final ‘startlist’ not yet being published (late subs are inevitable), I can’t see beyond a handful of riders for the win. If Team Wiggins Le Col play their cards right, I can’t see Gabz Cullaigh being beaten. But it will depend on domestic racing playing out, which, like it or not, is very different to European racing. Madison Genesis’s Ian Bibby should be a force to reckon with, as should National Champion Connor Swift. It’s also a race that should suit a rider like Robert Jon McCarthy or Rory Townsend (both Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes), but my ‘sleeper’ would be Scott Thwaites (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother), and given he has a strong road captain in Ali Slater, he should be top 5. ‘Locals’ Kyffin and Luhrs (Ribble Pro Cycling) are showing good form, and don’t discount James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) who will be keen to get an early result.

The usual suspects team-wise should make the race, and look out for under-23 Irish squad Team Bioracer-DHL-FR Services, as well as a few interlopers: Peter Kibble from the Wales Racing Academy, evergreen Russ Downing (Giordana), and a very handy Adam Lewis (BEAT Cycling).

The beauty of the first race of the season is it’s so open – and 2019 is no different. 

Timings

Women’s Race: 9.00 – 11.25 approx

Men’s Race: 13.30 – 17.10 approx

Weather

The forecast says it will be dry and cool (6-7 degrees). Winds look moderate and will come from the east, so could well play a factor on the exposed coastal parts of the course.

TV

Highlights of the race will be shown on Eurosport (timings tbc).

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