The UK’s premier road racing series, the National Road Series, begins with iconic Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix presented by Pro-Noctis on Sunday 8 May.
This explainer tells you what the series is, how it works and why it’s important.
Featured photo: Craig Zadoroznyj/SWpix.com. Abi Smith wins the 2021 Curlew Cup.
What is the 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, featuring seven rounds for women and six for men. The races typically attracts the top domestic teams, including UCI Continental teams as well as Elite Development Teams.
The series involves individual and team competitions for both men and women, It also includes 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.
What are the races?
This year will be the first since 2019 that a ‘full’ National Road Series calendar will run. 2020 was a write-off, while the 2021 series was restricted to just three races. The cancellation of the Tour of the Reservoir earlier this year means the calendar is not as full as originally anticipated. Nonetheless, it is welcome relief to teams and fans alike that the UK calendar is returning to at least some normality post-pandemic.
The term ‘national’ is a bit of a misnomer, geographically speaking. There are no races in either Wales or Scotland, and all of the races or north of the ‘Watford Gap’. But it is national in the sense that it attracts the top riders and teams from across the UK.
The men’s National Road Series is set to feature six rounds. The Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix is 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 May||1||Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix|
|3 Jul||2||Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix|
|17 Jul||3||Lancaster Grand Prix|
|22-24 Jul||4||Manx International Stage Race|
|21 Aug||6||The Ryedale Men’s Grasscrete Grand Prix|
|18 Sep||7||Beaumont Trophy|
The women’s National Road Series will include seven 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 Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix returns after last season’s cancellation. And, for the first time, both the Lancaster Grand Prix and the Manx International Stage Race will run women’s editions alongside the men’s.
|8 May||1||Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix|
|19 Jun||2||6th Women’s CiCLE Classic:|
|3 Jul||3||Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix|
|17 Jul||4||Lancaster Grand Prix|
|22-24 Jul||5||Manx International Stage Race|
|21 Aug||7||The Ryedale Women’s Grasscrete Grand Prix|
|18 Sep||8||Curlew Cup|
Why is the Series important?
It is the only series of road races in the UK that features Britain’s top domestic Continental and elite-level teams, including teams from British Cycling’s new ‘Elite Development Team’ tier. 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.
2022 is only the National Road Series’ third 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. 2021’s winner was Jacob Scott (Canyon dhb SunGod), with his Canyon team (now called WiV SunGod) also taking the team honours. Finn Crockett (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) – now having a storming season with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling – was the best under-23 rider.
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, Lisa Brambani and Rebecca Durrell. Abi Smith won the 2021 individual series, as well as the under-23 title. Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes p/b Heidi Kjeldsen were the team victors.
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. The highest placed U23 rider in the final overall standings will be given the title of U23 series winner.
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.
The British Cycling pages on the National Road Series, for men and women, can be found here.