2022 National Road Series and National Circuit Series calendars revealed

We reveal the dates and venues for the 2022 National Road Series and National Circuit Series, and deliver our verdict on next season's elite-level calendar

British Cycling has announced the dates and venues for the 2022 men’s and women’s National Road Series and National Circuit Series. It marks a (hopeful) return to some sort of normality for elite-level domestic road racing. The calendar begins where the 2021 season left off – at the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix – and stretches through to September, with Beaumont Trophy and Curlew Cup retaining their new late-season dates.

Here is what we know, and what we think…

2021 HSBC UK National Road Series – Jake Scott of Canyon dhb SunGod wins the Beaumont Trophy. Image: Craig Zadoroznyj/SWpix.com

National Road Series

The National Road Series is the premier road racing series in the UK for men and women. Last year, the Covid pandemic restricted the Series to just three races each for men and women; in 2020, the Series didn’t run at all. Teams, race organisers and fans alike will be hoping that the 2022 calendar runs in full. So what does it look like?

Men’s calendar

The men’s National Road Series is set to feature seven rounds. The Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix and the Tour of the Reservoir are both back after being cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic. There is also a welcome return for the Manx International Stage Race. As in 2019, the event will involve four stages race, including a time-trial, two kermesses and a road stage.

8 May1Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix
3 Jul2Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix
17 Jul3Lancaster Grand Prix
22-24 Jul4Manx International Stage Race
13-14 Aug5Tour of the Reservoir
21 Aug6The Ryedale Men’s Grasscrete Grand Prix
18 Sep7Beaumont Trophy

Women’s calendar

The women’s National Road Series will include eight rounds. We believe this is the first time the National Road Series (and its predecessors) has had more rounds for women than for men. As with the men, the Tour of the Reservoir and the Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix return after last season’s cancellations. And, for the first time, both the Lancaster Grand Prix and the Manx International Stage Race will run women’s races.

8 May1Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix
19 Jun26th Women’s CiCLE Classic:
3 Jul3Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix
17 Jul4Lancaster Grand Prix
22-24 Jul5Manx International Stage Race
13-14 Aug6The Alexandra Tour of the Reservoir
21 Aug7The Ryedale Women’s Grasscrete Grand Prix
18 Sep8Curlew Cup
2021 HSBC UK National Men’s Circuit Series – Men’s Ilkley Grand Prix – Ilkley, Yorkshire, England. Image: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

National Circuit Series

Following a successful debut in 2021 the Ilkley Cycle Races will once again feature in the men’s and women’s National Circuit Series, while races in Barnsley, Sheffield and Colne will all return following cancellations in 2021. Both the men’s and women’s series will begin in Otley, with the Otley Women’s
Grand Prix and Property Development Men’s Otley Grand Prix. A Midlands round should be the curtain-closer, although that is yet to be confirmed.

Men’s calendar

29 Jun1Property Development Men’s Otley Grand Prix
1 Jul2The Ilkley Cycle Races
8 Jul3Barnsley Town Centre Races
20 Jul4Sheffield Grand Prix
26 Jul5Fort Vale Colne Grand Prix
29 Jul6Midlands (TBC)

Women’s calendar

29 Jun1Otley Women’s Grand Prix
1 Jul2The Ilkley Cycle Races
8 Jul3Barnsley Town Centre Races
29 Jul6Midlands (TBC)

Our verdict: the good, the bad and the slightly disappointing

The good. So, what do we like about the shape of the calendar?

  • First up, pandemic restrictions allowing, this promises to be the first full calendar of elite-level road racing in the UK since 2019. We hope it is an indication that race organisers, local authorities and key sponsors alike have renewed confidence and ambition for bringing elite-level racing to UK roads.
  • Early publication of the calendar allows teams and fans to plan ahead.
  • Genuine gender parity. For the first time, all of the National Road Series race organisers are planning to run both women’s and men’s editions. The only reason for the difference in the number of rounds for men and women is that the men’s edition of the CiCLE Classic remains a UCI race, meaning it’s not included as part of the National Road Series. There will be equal prize money too (which has been the case since 2017). In fact, with the UK also hosting two Women’s WorldTour stage races in 2022, the women’s domestic road racing calendar is arguably stronger now than the men’s.
  • Return of the Manx International. The intention of the organisers of the Manx International Stage Race was always that it would only run every two years. It didn’t appear on the provisional calendar for 2021, however, so it’s great news that organisers are planning a 2022 edition.
  • It’s also good news that the Tour of Reservoir continues after long-time organiser Mike Hodgson sadly passed away in 2020.
  • All this means that elite-level stage racing is back, something that elite-level teams sorely need after no UK-based stage racing opportunities since 2019.
  • For the women in particular, it feels the UK calendar will now have a semi- decent coherence and shape to it. The Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix should kick things off, followed by the Tour Series, assuming it moves back to its May spot. The British UCI Continental teams will then have the RideLondon Classique and the Women’s Tour before the National Road Series resumes with the CiCLE Classic the weekend after the latter. This then leads into a busy summer which will take in the National Road Championships, the bulk of the National Road Series races and the National Circuit Series, with the Curlew Cup rounding out the season in mid-September.
2021 HSBC UK National Women’s Circuit Series – Women’s Ilkley Grand Prix – Ilkley, Yorkshire, England – Megan Barker of CAMS-Basso wins. Image: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

The bad. Despite the positives, there is plenty of room for improvement.

  • Disappearance of the Klondike. It’s always disappointing when a race disappears from the calendar. And with its April date, the Klondike Grand Prix served as an important early season date for elite-level road racing in pre-Covid times. There had been rumours that the Klondike would next year host the National Road Championships instead of acting as a National Road Series round. A reliable source tells us this is not the case, however. Whatever the status of the race, we hope it’s absence from the calendar is temporary, not permanent.
  • Geographic disparity. The calendar remains geographically skewed. There are no races in Wales, Scotland and many regions of the UK, particularly in the south. The South Coast Classic ran for just one season, in 2019, and the ‘South of England’ race mooted for the 2021 Series isn’t back on the calendar in 2022.
  • The men’s calendar is shrinking (even if it is growing for women’s teams). The first men’s National Road Series had 10 rounds. 8 were planned for 2020 and 2021. In 2022 there will be just 7. It highlights the need to grow the number of top-level races in the UK, and for British Cycling to work with race organisers and others to help create a vibrant, more sustainable future racing platform for domestic teams.

The slightly disappointing. This isn’t directly a comment about the National Road Series, but longer-term, we’d like to see British Cycling working with other key stakeholders to develop a series of .2 UCI races in the UK. Races at this level are critical to the development of riders. Elite teams are eligible to ride them, they expose riders to international competition, and good results in these races can help riders get noticed and step up to the next level. Yet the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic will remain the only .2 UCI race in the UK in 2022. Of course, elevating existing National Road Series races to UCI level, or creating new races from scratch, isn’t straightforward. But we believe that doing so could – and should – be something that is prioritised as an important foundation for future rider development in the UK.

Featured image: Craig Zadoroznyj/SWpix.com. 2021 HSBC UK National Road Series – Abi Smith of Team TIBCO SVB celebrates on the podium of the Curlew Cup