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Communiqué – 18 February

Joe Hudson rounds up the recent domestic cycling news

We’re six weeks into the new year and already a lot of news and announcements have been flooding into the world. The British Continental has rounded them up below to make sure none of them are missed…   

British road calendar slowly taking shape…

There’s still no word from British Cycling on a full calendar of events to make up the men’s and women’s National Road Series and National Circuit Series. The 2019 calendar for these races was published on 19 December 2018. So far, however, there has been no official announcement of the 2020 calendar. We have, nonetheless, heard plenty of noise ‘on the grapevine’…

What we have heard is that the men will have an eight-race National Road Series this season, down from 10 races last season, whilst the men’s National Circuit Series will continue with six races. The missing road races are the Manx International stage race, which the organisers say they will only run every other year, and the South Coast Classic. The latter seemed to have a successful inaugural edition last year, but sadly is not on the provisional list we have seen.

Of the eight races that are on the provisional list, the iconic Lincoln Grand Prix is at risk of not going ahead. Currently seeking a new title sponsor in order to fund its continuation, you can read James McKay’s excellent Q&A with race organiser Dan Ellmore to get up to speed on the situation in the Cathedral city. 

The news is arguably worse on the women’s side. For the first time in 2019, the women’s domestic racing calendar was divided up into a circuit series and a road series. However, sources tell us there will be no separate circuit series in 2020. Furthermore, the rumours are that women’s calendar will be reduced from 11 races in 2019 – 8 road races and 3 circuit series races – to an amalgamated series of 7-8 races incorporating 6 road races and 1-2 crits.

All of this is unconfirmed, of course, as we await official announcements on the shape of the calendar from British Cycling.

National Road Series TV highlights show axed

In another blow to the National Road Series, there will be no highlights of the Series on Eurosport this season. British Cycling will instead provide short video highlights to local news channels and for teams to promote their own participation in races.

An email seen by us from British Cycling says that, “British Cycling has invested nearly a million pounds in the last three years in the delivery of production of the national road series in an effort to increase the broadcast profile of the series. However we are unable to deliver a calendar which offers regular scheduling, at the quality required, and that provides the necessary viewership and outcomes for broadcasters to get them to commit to televise, so we have been unable to achieve our initial aim.”

Tour Series returns…

What will definitely be continuing, though, is the Tour Series, with Digital & PR Manager Nick Bull confirming on Twitter that the fast-paced event will be taking place once again in May 2020.

The full schedule is set to be announced next month with the series promising a mix of ‘old favourites and new venues’ as squads look to take on reigning men’s and women’s champions Canyon Homes dhb p/b Soreen and CAMS-Tifosi respectively.

Freddie Schescke (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK) wins the Salisbury round of the Tour Series 2019. Photo: David Hares

Not Bourne again…

Whilst the Soens Memorial Race and Victor Berlemont Trophy nearly fell by the wayside this year only to be saved, the Bourne CiCLE Festival may not be so lucky. The organisers recently tweeted that the two-day event – which included both men’s and women’s races in 2019 – won’t run in 2020.

However, South Kesteven District Council – which hosts the event – told the Stamford Mercury (behind paywall) that: “an official decision on whether or not to stage the Bourne CiCLE event in 2020 had not yet been made, “and will not be made until the relevant governance processes have been completed.””

A spokesperson added: “It was also noted at the meeting [Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee] that, given the extent of planning and organisation required to run an event of this size, the associated timescales might preclude it from taking place this year.”

Klondike set to provide pre-TDY test…

One event definitely going ahead – on April 14 – is the East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix. Set to roll out two weeks before the Tour De Yorkshire heads up the North Yorkshire Coast, the event will take in a long stretch of the route from Easington to Saltburn, including a number of tricky climbs up Skinningrove and Saltburn banks – expect a number of extra riders to take in the race to get some early recce. 

That benefit won’t be felt by all though, as the elite women’s race – held for the first time at last year’s race – won’t be making a return as part of the wider shrinking of the women’s calendar mentioned above.

Tour of Britain heads back to the Lakes…

Tour of Britain organiser SweetSpot has confirmed the race will be heading back to the picturesque – and hilly – Lake District for the 10th year as part of the 2020 edition of the race. The race had already confirmed in it will start in Cornwall this year.

Further details of date, start and finish points, and where the stage fits into the wider itinerary will be announced in the spring. Until then, check out the highlights of the last Tour of Britain stage in the Lakes – 2019’s Gateshead to Kendal.

Women’s Tour details begin to emerge…

Venues for the Women’s Tour are slowly starting to trickle out with the Oxfordshire town of Bicester being confirmed as the host of the Grand Depart for the 2020 edition of the race.

There’s no finishing town for that first stage yet, but the sixth stage has been fully confirmed with the peloton heading from Haverhill to what should be a tightly-fought finish in Felixstowe on June 13.

As well as route details, teams have started to be confirmed for the seventh edition of the Women’s Tour as CAMS-Tifosi announced it will be the first of 18 squads

British teams taking European adventures…

British squads are slowly confirming programmes for 2020 and a number of teams will be taking on European efforts. 

First off, the Great Britain Senior Academy team will be looking to make it two British winners in as many years as the squad tackles the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs. Tom Pidcock conquered the cobbles last year as part of Team Wiggins Le Col. Exact details of who’ll be riding will be confirmed closer to the April test.

Further south, Holdsworth-Zappi and Trinity Racing have confirmed their attendance at a different under-23 race – the Giro Ciclisto d’Italia. The stage race will kick off in June. Despite four stage wins last year (two for Ethan Hayter, and one each for Fred Wright and Matt Walls), the Great Britain national team won’t be competing on the Giro after national teams were banned from competing by race organisers. GB had hoped they could enter their trade team, Team Inspired, but it seems the organisers had other ideas.

After a pair of top 20 finishes at the Challenge Mallorca for Jacob Scott and Max Stedman, Canyon dhb p/b Soreen will be heading out east to the Tour of Antalya. The team will bring a six-man squad featuring Stedman and Scott, as well as Daniel Pearson, Andrew Tennant, Rory Townsend and Ryan Christensen.

Women’s teams have also started to confirm calendars for 2020 with CAMS-Tifosi announcing it will compete at April’s Amstel Gold Race. Also tackling a number of Spring Classics will be the Drops team. In addition to racing at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Femines, Drops will tackle Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Gent Wevelgem and the Ronde van Vlanderren in the coming weeks.

For a full list of which teams are competing where, check out our full race calendar here.

Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling ahead of the Saudi Tour. Photo: James Huntly

But some riders are already conquering worldwide…

While teams are just starting to add European events to their calendar, a number of riders and teams are already adding wins to their palmarès. 

At the Tour de La Provence, Owain Doull edged out Israel Start Up Nation’s Matthias Brändle to secure victory on stage four for Team INEOS. The race has already proved successful for British riders, with a third on stage three for EF Pro Cycling’s Hugh Carthy powering him to fourth on the GC. 

Congratulations also to Lucy van der Haar as the Hitec Products rider took the first victory for a British woman in a UCI road race event this decade as she claimed stage one success at the Dubai Women’s Tour.

Earlier, in January, Matthew Holmes has taken the honour of the first Brit to win a UCI race this decade as he stormed to stage six victory at the Tour Down Under for Lotto Soudal. He also finished fourth overall in the King of the Mountains.

Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling also had a sterling start to its year as the team took a handful of top 20 finishes at the Saudi Tour at the start of February in the hands of Charles Page. If you missed our interview with the team from earlier in the month, check it out here.

Dave Rayner Foundation announces supported riders

The Dave Rayner Foundation has confirmed it will support a record 41 riders – 33 men and eight women – in 2020, of which more than half (21) have never previously been supported by the Foundation.

The full list of riders – including our journal contributor Joe Laverick – which will be supported by the foundation can be found in the below Tweet.

Other news

  • Most of the men’s and women’s domestic teams have announced their squads for 2020. Read our men’s domestic team guide here and our women’s team guide here.
  • The Tour de Yorkshire announced details of the routes of the 2020 editions of its men’s and women’s races. More details here.
  • The Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic has announced a tweaked route which includes a new gravel sector.
  • Furthermore, the organiser has also hinted there will be more UCI 1.2 races in the UK in 2021. Read more here.

Featured photo: David Hares. Salisbury round of the Tour Series, May 2019