Previews Races

2019 Lancaster Grand Prix: race preview

Preview of Round 3 of the National Road Series, with race insight and analysis from Colin Sturgess

Round 3 of the National Road Series takes place this Sunday at the brand new Lancaster Grand Prix. Here’s a preview of the race, including race insight and predictions from Colin Sturgess.

It is going to be tough and it is going to produce another worthy winner

Colin Sturgess

What is it?

The Lancaster Grand Prix is a new race on the British racing calendar, hoping to make a name for itself as a British equivalent of an Ardennes classic. Organised by former UCI president Brian Cookson and chairman of Lune RCC Graham Jones, the race has the potential to be one of the best organised, and most exciting, events on the domestic calendar.

All of the UK’s top Continental and elite teams will be at the race, including National Road Series leader Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis). Jon Dibben makes his debut for Madison Genesis too, after recently joining the team. Click here for the provisional start list.

The route

The race starts and finishes in Williamson Park on the eastern edge of Lancaster. The riders will then ride south-east through to Quernmore before covering seven laps of a 18.5km circuit based largely on roads in the famous Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Over 160km long, this is a tough, hilly course, with a sawtooth profile and over 2,600m of climbing.

Full race route profile. Does not include neutral section to Williamson Park

If the hilly circuits haven’t already been selected enough, then the final, 9% climb of Conder Bottoms, just before the run-in to Williamson Park, is sharp enough to the be the final, decisive point in the race.

There are lanes and roads that will tax a 120-man field, and at times the convoy too

Colin Sturgess

Colin Sturgess’ view

Colin Sturgess is a former track world champion and professional road cyclist who has also managed domestic teams Metaltek-Kuota and Madison Genesis

Well, it’s a first for Lancaster, and it’s a first for me. A while back The British Continental asked if I’d be interested in writing some race previews and doing some rider interviews, but I was unable to. And with the British Conti Insider already previewing events, it didn’t seemly timely. However, here we go!

Talking of firsts… Let’s have a look at the Lancaster Grand Prix and who’s going to get two arms in the air at the foot of the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park. It’s quite difficult to preview an inaugural event as (obviously) no precedent can be drawn upon, but having studied the race manual, and having raced in the area (albeit in the late 1990s), it is going to be tough and it is going to produce another worthy winner. There are lanes and roads that will tax a 120-man field, and at times the convoy too.

The main circuit is reached by means of an out-and-home 10km (à la Stockton, à la Klondike) and onto 7 laps of the old Dolphinholme circuit which at 20km long will see best part of three and three-quarter hours’ racing, before the run-in back to Lancaster. 

I have a strong feeling that Madison Genesis’s series leader, Matt Holmes, will be the man to beat

Colin Sturgess

As for the teams and competitors, the usual suspects will come out to play but I have a strong feeling that Madison Genesis’s series leader, Matt Holmes, will be the man to beat. Amazingly, Matt is yet to win a ‘Prem’ despite having been a dominant force in domestic road racing for some time. The parcours will suit his aggressive racing style and the selection that DS Roger Hammond has made will amply back him up with what is the strongest team on paper. New signing Jon Dibben debuts, and Johnny McEvoy returns from injury. Throw into the mix Moses, Bibby, Handley, Cuming and Rowsell and you have a team to be reckoned with. 

And in my opinion the two teams to do just that are Canyon and Wiggins Le Col. Canyon, arguably field the next strongest selection with the on form Tom Stewart and Alexandar Richardson both enjoying some welldeserved results overseas. They’ll be backed by Dan Pearson and Max Stedman (both mountain goats), Ollie Wood (whose 4thplace at the U23 road worlds in Bergen is too often overlooked due to his national squad track duties), young Callum Macloed, Louis Rose-Davies and all round strongman Robert Jon McCarthy make up the eight. Don’t overlook McCarthy should it come to a kick in the final. As for Wiggins, I’d look to Mark Christian, Ben Tullet and Rob Scott. Gabz Cullaigh rides after returning from a short break, and although he swears his form isn’t quite there, you’d not bet against him in sprint!

Looking through the rest of the strong field I think mention should be made of James Shaw, Pete Williams and Jake Scott (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling); Zeb Kyffin, Alex Luhrs, and the beast John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling); Ali Slater, Graham Briggs, and a rider who I think could podium here, Scott Thwaites, who should have great morale after his selection for the European Games in Minsk.

For the other teams look no further than one of Great Britain’s great road riders, Steve Lampier (Saint Piran). He has a good team around him, but has the smarts to ride off other teams and find himself at the sharp end. He never fails to impress, as does Edmund Bradbury. Bradbury rides for Swedish conti team Memil Pro Cycling, and despite having only a single team mate in the evergreen Rob Orr to hand, will no doubt be in the mix. Don’t write off another evergreen powerhouse, Russ Downing (Giordana), and whilst we’re speaking of power from Sheffield young Kieran Savage (Cycling Sheffield) will be a man to keep an eye on. Under the guidance of wily Dave Coulson, Savage could produce a solid result here. He’s a bit raw, a bit inexperienced yet, but the conti teams would be well advised to start talking to him and Dave. Let’s not forget which elite team national champion Connor Swift progressed from.

Whatever the result on Sunday I am very keen to see how the race pans out, and how the race organisation handles a new round of the road series. Under the guidance of Brian Cookson and Graham Jones I feel confident we’ll have none of the delays and hiccups of last year’s Bristol Grand Prix.

[Disclosure: For those that don’t know, I was Madison Genesis’s DS in 2018, and as such still hold the team in very high regard and affection. That said, I am good friends with other team DSs and riders, and respect them all equally in regards to The British Continental previews/reviews]

East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix 2019. Photo: James York

National Road Series standings

Matt Holmes currently leads the individual National Road Series standings on 46 points. Saint Piran manager-rider Steve Lampier sits in second place on 38 points, with winners of the previous rounds, Rory Townsend and Tom Stewart, not far behind on 30 points apiece.

In the team standings, Madison Genesis lead (103 points). Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes (97 points) and Team Wiggins Le Col (74 points) are their nearest challengers.

The race is also a Tour of Britain qualification race. Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes currently lead these standings. SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling and Ribble Pro Cycling will be aiming to make up ground as they currently sit outside the qualifying places.

Timings

10.00 – 14.30 approx

Weather

The forecast is for dry, sunny and mild conditions (13-14 degrees). There will be a moderate breeze from the south west, so wind could be a factor on exposed parts of the course.

TV

Highlights of the race will be shown on Eurosport.

Featured photo: James York, East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix 2019.

2 comments on “2019 Lancaster Grand Prix: race preview

  1. Brian Cookson

    Thanks for this informative preview. Just a small point, the Graham Jones working with me to put this event on is not the former Tour de France rider. He’s a lifetime cyclist and former 1st cat roadman who used to ride in the 60s and 70s for Cleveleys Road Club, and is now Chairman of the Lune RCC and a regular race organiser. One of the hard workers in our sport. Hope to see you all on Sunday. It’s going to be a great race. Cheers. Brian Cookson.

  2. Brian, many thanks for getting in touch, glad you liked the preview. We’ve updated the text to correct things – apologies for the oversight. Very much looking forward to the race!

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