We look ahead to the final round of the HSBC UK | National Road Series this weekend, as the domestic peloton heads to Northumberland for the women’s Curlew Cup and the men’s Beaumont Trophy. As well as being key domestic events in their own right, this year the races will also decide the individual and team winners of the HSBC UK | National Road Series.
This is our in-depth preview of the two races, with detailed analysis of the route and contenders.
Photo: Craig Zadoroznyj/SWpix.com – 07/07/2019 – British Cycling HSBC UK Women’s National Road Series – The Curlew Cup, Stamfordham, Northumberland. Winner Elizabeth Bennett, April Tacey and Charlotte Berry.
What is it?
The Curlew Cup and Beaumont Trophy are part of the Cyclone Festival of Cycling, a weekend cycling festival that normally also includes a sportive. This year, however, the sportive was held at the beginning of July, the original date for these Covid-postponed races.
The Beaumont Trophy is one of the longest-running road races on the domestic calendar. It was first run in 1952, presented by Rex Beaumont, a cycle and motorcycle wholesaler based in Newcastle. Since then, the race has been won by many famous riders including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Newton, Russell and Dean Downing and Malcolm Elliott. The most prolific winner was Ray Wetherell, who won it five times. Wiggins won it twice, including in 2011 when the event was the National Road Championships road race. Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb SunGod) won the race the last time it was held in 2019 but won’t be back to defend his crown as he’ll be racing for Ireland at the road world championships this Sunday.
The Curlew Cup, meanwhile, was launched in 2012, the year after the women’s national road championships, won by Lizzie Deignan, was held on the same course. The inaugural race was won by Dame Sarah Storey. Other notable winners have included Hannah Barnes (2013), Katie Archibald (2014), Nicki Juniper (2016) and Jessica Roberts (2018). Lizzy Bennett (Drops-Le Col s/b Tempur) won the last edition in 2019 and she is on the provisional startlist this year.
In our 2019 race preview, Colin Sturgess, now DS at the Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team, described this as “a real ‘racers’ course: the tough Ryals climb, a fast narrow descent (where positioning is crucial as it leads directly onto the foot of the Ryals), and some good old Northumberland B-roads which are never easy. The expression ‘attritional’ is banded about a lot in race previews but it sums up” the course.”
Starting and finishing by the village green in Stamfordham in Northumberland, the route for both races consists of two circuits.
The large circuit is 40 kilometres long and is tackled anti-clockwise. The smaller circuit is 22.2 kilometres. The Curlew Cup takes in the large circuit twice, followed by one lap of the smaller circuit, with a total distance of 102.3 kilometres. The Beaumont Trophy, meanwhile, consists of four laps of the large circuit and one tour of the small circuit, and is 182.3 kilometres in length.
About 30 kilometres into the large circuit, the Ryals climb provides the stiffest obstacle of the day. It’s a drag of over two kilometres featuring three steep ramps in succession. It’s often the decisive point in the race and is where Team Sky launched their attack in the 2011 National Road Championships that led to Sir Bradley Wiggins’ nationals win.
The rise from West Belsay to Kirkheaton can also be a decisive feature if there is a strong enough westerly wind.
The small circuit includes nothing as testing at the Ryals but nonetheless features two short sharp rises, one at the beginning of the lapwith gradients of up to 7% and another with about 14 kilometres to go that could provide launchpads for potentially decisive attacks. It’s pretty much all downhill from about nine kilometres to go, bar a small rise to the finish line.
Riders to watch
As ever, we have only seen provisional startlists so far, which are subject to change. But here are some names to watch based on what we know so far. For many riders, both races offer a final chance to showcase themselves to potential suitors for next season. And with the National Road Series up for grabs, there will be the added dynamic of riders and teams trying to maintain or improve their positions in the Series standings.
Women’s provisional startlist here.
The leaders in the women’s Series teams standings are CAMS-Basso and they should once again be the team to watch here. They will miss Meg Barker and Jess Finney, both withdrawn from the provisional startlist. But nonetheless, with Ryedale GP winner Illi Gardner, individual Series leader Natalie Grinczer and Scottish road race champion Becky Storrie, they still have plenty of options.
Drops-Le Col s/b Tempur only have two riders on the provisional startlist but both are strong contenders. Defending champion Lizzy Bennett returns, as does April Tacey, who Bennett narrowly beat in the 2019 edition. Bennett is coming back from injury but seems to be back near to her best after finishing second in the Welsh time trial championships recently.
The other UCI Continental team, AWOL O’Shea, have been enjoying a stint of international UCI racing over the summer. U23 rider Connie Hayes has looked strong and could be one to watch here.
Pro-Noctis – Redchilli Bikes -Heidi Kjeldsen have been the strongest elite team this year and Corinne Side and Jo Tindley have been particularly impressive in the Series so far.
CiCLE Classic winner Abi Smith returns to the Series after an impressive run riding with Team TIBCO – SVB. She’s without her GB teammates but is strong enough to take the win here. Someone who may help her cause is fellow Team TIBCO – SVB rider Leah Dixon, who recently won the Welsh road race championships and is a potential winner in her own right.
As ever, this section isn’t comprehensive, but other riders to monitor include Lucy Lee (Team LDN – Brother UK), Lucy Ellmore (Skoda DSI Cycling Academy) and Beth Morrow (Storey Racing).
Men’s provisional startlist here.
As ever, leaders of the Series team standings Canyon dhb SunGod should be the team to watch, no doubt keen to bag the individual race victory that has so far eluded them in the National Road Series this season. They will also have a keen eye on defending Jacob Scott’s slender two-point lead in the individual Series standings. Scott was in scintillating form during the Tour of Britain and will hope he can carry that through to Beaumont. The team also have a squad racing in the Netherlands this weekend, while Rory Townsend is representing Ireland at the road world championships. Nonetheless, they still have some strong riders to support Scott, including local rider Thomas Mein, climber Max Stedman and former British U23 road race champion Rob Scott. Reece Wood could be an option for them if it comes down to a sprint.
Canyon’s nearest rivals in the Series standings are Crimson Orientation Marketing RT. Isaac Peatfield, the leading U23 in the individual standings, sits just two points behind Scott in the overall standings. Toby Barnes, sixth overall in the standings, will also be one to watch.
SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling have both the winners of the previous rounds of the Series in Josh Whitehead, winner at Lancaster, and Alex Peters, who won at Ryedale. The latter had an excellent Tour of Britain and must be one of the favourites here.
Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling’s Matt Gibson showed at the Tour of Britain he is still a class rider. He is the pick of their riders, someone who could win from a sprint or in a break.
Elsewhere in the Continental team ranks, Ollie Rees, Max Walker (both TRINITY Road Racing) and the Mazzone brothers (Leon and Tom from Saint Piran) are ones to keep an eye on.
Previous Rounds have demonstrated that there are plenty of elite team riders capable of contesting for the win on a course like this. Finn Crockett (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli), Isaac Mundy (Richardsons-Trek), George Kimber (Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor), Sam Beckett (Wales Racing Academy) and Matti Dobbins (RT23) are all names capable of animating the closing stages of the race.
There are a few wildcards from international teams. ProTeam rider Alex Richardson (Alpecin-Fenix) is the standout, but also watch out for our journal contributor Tom Portsmouth (Carbonbike Discar Academy), returning to the UK after a solid season in Belgium.
Finally, Team Inspired (the GB Senior Academy) field a strong squad, so keep an eye on Rhys Britton and co too.
National Road Series standings
Women’s and Men’s Series standings here.
Women’s race: runs 9.00 to 11.36 approx.
Men’s race: 13.15 to 17.39 approx.
The forecast suggests it will be a pleasant day with little wind, so the weather is unlikely to be a factor in either race.
How to follow
There will be no TV highlights of the race this year after British Cycling decided to shelve TV coverage of the National Road Series at the beginning of 2020.
British Cycling will be providing race updates through its Twitter account. #NatRoadSeries is the hashtag to follow and use. The Cyclone Festival Twitter account is another one to watch. And our own Joe Hudson is also hoping to be there to keep track of the race.