Hot on the heels of the Beaumont Trophy and the midweek Newcastle Crit, the domestic peloton completes a trilogy of races in the North-East of England this Sunday (14 July) with the Stockton Grand Prix.
What is it?
The race is a relatively new one on the domestic calendar. The previous two editions finished in bunch sprints. JLT Condor won the last two, with Matt Gibson winning in 2018 and Brenton Jones crossing the line first in 2017. In 2016, meanwhile, the race hosted the National Road Championships, when Adam Blythe outsprinted Mark Cavendish.
176 kilometres in length, the route is unchanged from the one used in previous editions. The race starts on the riverside in Stockton-on-Tees and then heads out north west of the town for ten laps of a rolling, open road circuit, passing through Thorpe Thewles, Redmarshall, Whitton and Thorpe Leazes.
The race then moves back into town for six laps of a shorter, more technical riverside circuit along the River Tees. The main circuit can make for hard, selective racing, but the finishing loop is flat, meaning things can be brought back together for a bunch sprint before the finish. Certainly the fast men have thrived in previous editions.
The race will feature the usual mix of British Continental and elite teams. Leader of the National Road Series, Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis), is a notable absentee. In fact, the highest-placed rider on the startlist is Mark Christain (Team Wiggins Le Col). who sits 5th. See the full provisional startlist here.
Will we get a new 2019 National Road Series winner? The only previous Series winner on the startlist is Ollie Wood (who won stage 1 of the Tour of Reservoir), so a new victor could be on the cards.
If the race follows the pattern of previous editions, a bunch sprint is likely. If this is the case, it’s hard to look past Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes for yet another Series win. Matt Bostock has been electric in the National Circuit Series (three wins from three) and Ollie Wood is also more than capable of winning on this type of finish.
Gabz Cullaigh (Team Wiggins Le Col), Jacob Tipper (Ribble Pro Cycling), and the Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother man Chris Latham are all riders who are capable of winning a race like this in their day. Latham has previous in this race (5th last year and 2nd in 2017) and will be hoping he can rediscover the form that brought him close to a win two years ago. Others who can hold their own in a bunch sprint include Jacob Scott, Stephen Bradbury (both SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling), Tom Pidcock (Team Wiggins Le Col) and Scott Thwaites (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother).
A mass sprint isn’t inevitable however. There are several teams who lack out-and-out fast men who may hope to make the race hard enough and selective enough to ditch the sprinters. Madison Genesis, in particular, will be looking to use their collective strength to force a selection on the main circuit.
Who else to look out for? Despite this being a British Cycling-organised series, their own academy team – Team Inspired – has been largely absent in series races, preferring a UCI-based programme to develop their riders on the road. The have two riders in this race, however, in Jim Brown and Joe Nally, who both achieved top 10 places in last week’s Beaumont Trophy. Can they go even better at Stockton?
The ever-consistent Steve Lampier (Saint Piran) is almost certain to feature at some point. Last week’s revelation Damian Clayton (Andy Moore Autocentres Racing). As does Alex Peters, who continues his racing comeback. In-form Reece Wood (Holdsworth-Zappi) also takes to the start line, fresh from strong results in the U23 version of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (7th) and the Otley GP (3rd).
Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) currently leads the individual National Road Series standings on 122 points, just 8 ahead of James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling). Beaumont Trophy winner Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes) is third on 94.
In the team standings, Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes have a clear lead over Madison Genesis (331 points to 235).
Finish: between 16.52 – 17.36
The forecast is for dry, mild and cloudy weather, with a moderate breeze.
Highlights of the race will be shown on Eurosport.
Featured photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. 15/07/2018. HSBC UK Grand Prix Series – Stockton Grand Prix – Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England – Matt Gibson of JLT Condor beats Matt Walls of 100% ME on the line.