Updated on 2 February 2021.
British Cycling has announced the provisional calendars for the 2021 men’s and women’s HSBC UK | National Road Series. Both the men’s and women’s Series were due to begin with the Klondike Grand Prix on Sunday 18 April but this has since been cancelled.
This explainer tells you what the Series are, how they work and why they are important.
Featured photo: Craig Zadoroznyj/SWpix.com. 2019 British Cycling HSBC UK National Road Series – Ryedale Grand Prix, Ampleforth, Yorkshire. Rebecca Durrell Brother UK – Tifosi.
What is the HSBC | National Road Series?
The premier road racing series in the UK for men and women. It is a season-long competition run by British Cycling. The provisional programme comprised eight eight rounds each for men and women. The races typically attract the top domestic teams, including UCI Continental teams. There will also be a separate HSBC UK | National Circuit Series for men and women, explained here.
As with the inaugural 2019 National Road Series, there will be individual and team competitions for both men and women. And, for 2021, the Series will also include a separate under-23 competition for men and women, with prize money attached, and an overall winner crowned after the final round of the series. This seems to be a nod to William Fotheringham’s proposals on this site for a new under-23 series to support rider development.
What are the races?
Both the men’s and women’s 2021 Series were originally made up of eight National A races [NB. now five due to the subsequent cancellations of the Klondike Grand Prix, Tour of the Reservoir and Stockton GP. The Rapha Lincoln GP is also in doubt after being postponed]. The plan was for seven one-day races, as well as the two-day Tour of the Reservoir. At the time of publication, it was a relief to see the latter on the calendar after long-time organiser Mike Hodgson sadly passed away this year, although the race has since been cancelled due to uncertainties surrounding Covid.
Men’s National Road Series
The men’s Series contains a mixture of longstanding, prestigious races like the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix and the Beaumont Trophy and newer events like the Lancaster Grand Prix. There are fewer races planned in 2021 compared with the 2019 season (the 2020 Series, of course, never happened because of COVID-19 restrictions), which featured 10 rounds.
The ‘missing’ races from the 2019 calendar are the three-day Manx International stage race, the Circuit of the Mendips and the South Coast Classic. The organisers of the Manx International are hopeful the race can return in 2022 but concerned about running it in 2021 because of uncertainties around continued potential COVID-19 restrictions in the UK and Isle of Man.
The Circuit of the Mendips had only been created by British Cycling in 2019 to replace the Bristol Grand Prix. It had been on the calendar for 2020 and it’s not clear yet why it won’t run next season.
The South Coast Classic seems to be off the menu, but a new ‘South of England’ race is in the works, which should help to give the calendar a better regional balance.
|tbc||2||Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix (Lincoln) – postponed|
|4 Jul||4||Beaumont Trophy (Stamfordham)|
|15 Aug||6||Lancaster Grand Prix, Lancaster|
|22 Aug||7||The Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix, Ampleforth|
|tbc||8||South of England (tbc)|
Women’s National Road Series
The planned 2021 women’s National Road Series represents progress compared with the plans for the 2020 version.
In 2020, no separate circuit series had been planned and, furthermore, the overall women’s calendar had been reduced from eleven races in 2019 – eight road races and three circuit series races – to an amalgamated series of seven races incorporating six road races and one crit.
In 2021, however, the women’s Series is back to eight road races – parity with the men – with three separate circuit series races. The calendar included a welcome return of the women’s race at Klondike Grand Prix – plans for which had been shelved in the 2020 calendar – but it has since been cancelled. The new ‘South of England’ race is also on the women’s calendar.
|9 May||2||Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix (Lincoln) – postponed|
|27 Jun||4||5th Women’s CiCLE Classic (Rutland)|
|4 Jul||5||Curlew Cup (Stamfordham)|
|22 Aug||7||The Ryedale Women’s Grasscrete Grand Prix (Ampleforth)|
|tbc||8||South of England (tbc)|
Why is the Series important?
It is the only series of races in the UK that will feature Britain’s top domestic Continental and elite-level teams. The winners – at the individual, team, and now under-23, levels – can therefore stake a claim to be the best road racing performers in the country. Furthermore, individual races like the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix are also nationally-revered races in their own right.
2021 will only be the National Road Series’ second year but the UK has long had a domestic road race series.
The first domestic men’s road race series was called The Star Trophy, which began in the 1950s. It was renamed The Premier Calendar in 1993. Many people still refer to the national series as The Premier Calendar and call National A road races ‘Prems’. In recent years, from 2014, the men’s series was known as the Elite Road Series consisting of two competitions: a Spring Cup series in the first part of the year and a Grand Prix series in the latter half. Previous winners of these series include Scott Thwaites, Russell Downing, Malcolm Elliot, Chris Newton, Paul Curran, Steve Joughin and Paul Sherwen. 2019’s winner was Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis), with Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes taking the team classification.
There has been a national women’s road race series since at least 1981, when it was called the Jo Bruton Trophy (h/t William Fotheringham). Previous winners include Sophie Wright, Lizzy Banks, Nicola Juniper (who won it from 2014 to 2016), Hannah Barnes, Dame Sarah Storey, Joanna Rowsell and Lisa Brambani. Rebecca Durrell of Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm won 2019’s individual series, with her team the resounding winners of the team classification.
For both Series, individual classification points will be awarded for:
- The first 20 places in each single day road race and overall classifications in stage races: 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
- The first 10 places in individual stages in stage races: 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
The overall winner of each Series will be the rider who gains the highest total number of points across the Series, with all rounds to count.
For the team classification, points will be calculated based on the sum total of the finishing positions for the first three riders of each team, based on the scoring system for single day road race and overall classifications in stage races.
Points are only allocated for the top 20 finishing places. Where more than three riders from any one team are present in the top 20 finishing positions, the points for the other riders from that team finishing in the top 20 will not be calculated in the final result or reassigned to another rider. No points are awarded for individual stage placings in stage races.
The team that accumulates the most points at the end of the Series shall win the overall team classification.
Details about scoring for the under-23 competition had not been published at the time of writing but will be added once they are available.
The British Cycling pages on the National Road Series, for men and women, can be found here.