National road championships Startlists

2022 National Time Trial Championships: preview

Thursday 22 June 2022. Route details, contenders, timings, how to follow & more, with expert analysis from Dan Bigham

Just eight months after the postponed 2021 National Road Championships in Lincoln, the nationals return this week, beginning with the time trial competitions.

Anna Henderson, and brothers Ethan and Leo Hayter are back to defend their respective titles, and they will be up against stacked fields gunning for the honour of wearing the red and blue bands of the national champions’ jersey.

This comprehensive preview includes expert analysis from Dan Bigham and takes a close look at the course, the likely contenders and other essential info.

Featured image: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com. 2021 HSBC UK National Road Championships – Lincoln, England – Individual Time Trials ITT, Tealby.

What is it?

Quite simply: an annual contest to decide who are the best time trialists (men, women, elite, U23) in the country. The winners get to wear the fabled national stripes on their time trial skinsuits for the following year.

The men’s national time trial championships go as far back as 1995, with the women’s championships starting in 2000. The U23 contest for men began in 2004, while the women have only had three dedicated U23 competitions to date: in 2017 2019 and 2021.

Alex Dowsett and Stuart Dangerfield hold the record for the number of wins in the men’s elite competition (6), while Wendy Houvenaghel has the most women’s competition victories (4).

Course

The time trial course is set around the Crichton Estate just south of Dumfries in Scotland, which features 85 acres of parkland, a rock garden and a university campus.

The under-23 women, under-23 men and elite women will set a time over one lap of the route, totalling 22.1km, while the elite men will complete two laps to make 44.2km.

The route is fairly flat with just 141ft of climbing for each loop, albeit with an uphill drag to the finish line, passing the historic Caerlaverock Castle and Nature Reserve en route.

It’s going to be more a course for watts to CDA than about climbing ability and cornering ability

According to aero wizard and time trial specialist Dan Bigham, it is a fast non-technical course.

“It’s definitely a flatter and faster course than last year, quite significantly so. It’s going to be more a course for watts to CDA than about climbing ability and cornering ability. There’s not too much in the way of technique and hills, nothing from a cornering perspective that’s really challenging”, says Bigham.

It might be a flat course but the final drag to the finish line at the end of the lap may present a challenge; VeloViewer suggests the drag gets up to 10% in places. But nonetheless the course should largely favour riders able to sustain high power output and a good position.

“There definitely are drags and especially through the campus section at the end of the lap. It’s pretty sharp actually”, Bigham tells us. “But largely, yes, it’s going to suit a rider that’s able to hold a good decent position and good power. There’s still some variance in elevation so distributing that energy well.”

It’s quite rough the road surface. That’s probably the primary factor that is going to upset some riders and make it harder to stay in that position

The course may lack hills or technical corners but Bigham thinks the road conditions could play an important role in the competition outcome.

“It’s quite rough the road surface. That’s probably the primary factor that is going to upset some riders and make it harder to stay in that position. There are a lot of potholes and just generally hard, slow-going, roads with an inconsistent road surface.”

There will also be little respite for the riders, little opportunity for them to catch their breath, according to Bigham.

2021 HSBC UK British Cycling Championship, Road. Individual Time Trial, ITT Elite Men – Tealby, Lincolnshire, England – Dan Bigham in action. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

“There’s not a huge amount of recovery, except for once you’re off that campus section where you’ve got a few minutes at about 60kph. But that’s about it for the entire course, the rest of it you’re on!”

And what of the discrepancy in distances between the elite men and women? Bigham thinks this is something that British Cycling should look at in future championships.

I don’t know why British Cycling aren’t pushing for equal distances for the men’s and women’s races

“I don’t know why British Cycling isn’t pushing for equal distances for the men’s and women’s races”, he says. “Because the UCI at world champs level this year at least will have equal distances for the men’s and women’s, and it seems to be a bit more commonplace in general. I’m not entirely sure why British Cycling thinks elite women need to ride a shorter distance than the men.” 

Contenders

You can view the final startlists here

U23 men’s time trial

The stand-out favourite has to be defending champion Leo Hayter (Hagens Berman Axeon) fresh from his all-conquering performance to win the U23 Giro d’Italia this month.

2021 HSBC UK British Cycling Championship, Road. Individual Time Trial, ITT U23 Men – Tealby, Lincolnshire, England – Leo Hayter on his way to the win. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Hayter’s closest rivals are likely to be Lewis Askey, Oscar Onley and Sam Watson.

Askey may not be renowned as a time trial specialist but the Groupama-FDJ WorldTour rider certainly has the power to rival his competitors and was fourth in the under-23 time trial in October, proving he is no slouch against the clock.

Onley (Development Team DSM) is another rider who impressed at the recent U23 Giro d’Italia, finishing ninth overall, the 19-year-old’s best performance yet. He is an excellent tester and finished third in the under-23 time trial last year. A year on, the Scot will be motivated to go even better this time around on home soil.

Like Askey, Sam Watson is not known as a time trial specialist, but the Groupama-FDJ Continental rider is talented enough to outpower most of the competition here, and fifth place last year suggests he is a genuine podium contender this time around.

Who else to watch?

Joe Laverick (Hagens Berman Axeon) has been plagued by bad luck and injury in recent years, but as a rider who was an outstanding time triallist in his junior days (8th in the world championships in 2018) he will be keen to make his mark in his final year as an under-23.

Tom Day (Home Solution ‐ Soenens U23 Development CT) is another time trial specialist who perhaps hasn’t hit the heights he’d have wanted to yet this season. He was sixth in the under-23 time trial last year and will be looking to improve on that this time around.

UCI 2021 Road World Championships – Knokke-Heist to Bruges, Flanders, Belgium – Finlay Pickering of Great Britain in action during the Men’s Junior Individual Time Trial Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

First-year under-23 Finlay Pickering (Groupama-FDJ Continental) should go well. He was the national junior time trial champion last year and has had a solid start to his under-23 career. Team Inspired’s Bob Donaldson is having a fine season and is another rider we’d expect to feature in the top ten at the very least.

U23 women’s trial

The women’s U23 time trial could be a close-run affair.

Reigning national road race champion Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) hasn’t ridden against the clock this year but has the speed and power to win here nonetheless. She was second last year in this race to Anna Shackley, who is riding the elite race this time around, so a win for Georgi would not be a surprise.

One of her closest challengers could be Abi Smith (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB). She has had a difficult year with illness but she seems to be on the up now after a solid ride at the Women’s Tour. She is an accomplished time triallist – she was seventh in last season’s Women’s Tour ITT for example – so she is capable of the win here if she can find her peak form.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 14/10/2021 – HSBC UK British Cycling Championship, Road. Individual Time Trial, ITT U23 Women – Tealby, Lincolnshire, England – Pfeiffer Georgi of Team DSM in action

Elynor Backstedt (Trek-Segafredo) is another rider to watch. She is a fine time triallist – third in the junior world time trial championships attests to that – and has been slowly getting back to her best since breaking her collarbone at the Trophée des Grimpeuses last year. If she can rediscover her previous form in the discipline she could challenge for the win.

April Tacey (Le Col-Wahoo) is a strong time triallist – she was fourth in this race last year – and is on the provisional startlist. She picked up an injury during the Women’s Tour, however, which forced her to leave the race early, so her form will be a question mark.

Of the domestic riders, we’re excited to see what Lucy Gadd (Storey Racing) can do. Gadd took an excellent third in the French Cup race the Route Féminine de Loire Atlantique last month, showing her form, and was fifth in the under-23 time trial last year. A podium spot would be an aspirational – but nonetheless achievable aim – for the 21-year-old.

Men’s elite time trial

Dan Bigham is heartened by the strength-in-depth of the men’s elite field.

“It’s absolutely stacked”, he told us. “I find that really good, actually, it’s a good sign for the sport. I think domestically this year there’s been worrying signs of a lack of entries across all time trials, which is pretty bad for cycling, when you’ve got the National 25 having a half field.

“To come here and see such strength in depth across multiple disciplines from World Tour teams, it’s really exciting to see that.”

Who does Bigham see as the contenders from such a competitive field?

“I think there are a lot of guys that could challenge. [Alex] Dowsett was in great form at the Sub7Sub8 event a few weeks ago. James Shaw obviously did a few good rides last year on his TT bike and on the road [he was third in the elite TT last season]. Haven’t seen so much of him this year but there’s every chance he’ll do a good one. Owain Doull did a great ride on stage 2 of the Giro in the time trial [he finished 20th].

Ben Turner‘s got mad gas and has been flying on the road. Haven’t seen him on the TT bike this year. Well, I personally have obviously with working with Ineos Grenadiers. There are a lot of guys that really could do a top-shelf ride. I’m really excited to see how that pans out.”

Paris-Nice 2022 – Stage Four – Domerat to Montlucon – Ethan Hayter of Ineos Grenadiers rides during the ITT. Individual Time Trial. Photo: Alex Broadway/SWpix.com

Our own favourite for the men’s elite time trial has to be reigning champion Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers). The 23-year-old is having yet another phenomenal season, including a win in the prologue at Tour de Romandie and third in the recent Criterium du Dauphiné time trial, beaten only by Ganna and van Aert. Bigham didn’t mention him but that was surely just a momentary oversight on his part as in our eyes he is the man to beat.

Of course, Dan Bigham himself is a contender. He has no trade team this year and is light on competition days on the road and in time trials but such is his talent and aero know-how, he should never be ruled out. His former Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling teammate John Archibald is another time trial specialist without a trade team this year but who nonetheless should not be dismissed.

We’re also excited to see how Ethan Vernon (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) goes. Only 21, he has opted for the elite event. He is an excellent time trialist and team pursuiter and this course could really suit him.

UCI 2021 Road World Championships – Knokke-Heist, Flanders, Belgium – Ethan Vernon of Great Britain during Individual Time Trial practice. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

While the domestic-based riders might not be podium contenders, Bigham picks out two that might get strong placings.

“One I would look out for is Michael Gill [Saint Piran]“, he says. “He was riding really well a few weeks ago. He was in our team at the Sub7Sub8 event and seems to be in really good form. He did an awesome pursuit back at the British Nationals in March. I think he was a 4:12 or 4:13. And yeah, he’s making big progress. So, I expect to see him at the pointy end.

Ollie Peckover [Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling], as well. He was riding pretty good and obviously nearly took the National 25 the other day if it wasn’t for a dropped chain.”

Women’s elite time trial

Bigham believes the women’s elite field is just as competitive as the men’s. He picks a number of riders to watch, perhaps unsurprisingly beginning with Joss Lowden (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team,), a superb time trialist who broke the hour record back in September last year (a record she held until May when Ellen van Dijk bettered her mark).

“Obviously, I would say Joss, being her fiancé, so hopefully she does a top ride,” he says.

2021 HSBC UK British Cycling Championship, Road. Individual Time Trial, ITT Elite Women – Tealby, Lincolnshire, England – Anna Henderson of Team Jumbo Visma before her Time Trial. Photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Defending champion Anna Henderson is another of his picks. 

“Anna Henderson’s been flying too on the road. And I’d say it’s a time trial that does play to her strengths as well. Though she is more of a technical rider she does have great power and a great CDA. So, I think she’ll do a good ride.”

AWOL O’Shea rider Emily Meakin is another of Bigham’s tips.

“Emily Meakin has been having some top rides. She took a big scalp a few weeks back at a UCI time trial [winning the Omloop van Borsele ITT], beating a few WorldTour riders to take the win. So, expect she’ll do a good ride.”

The standout domestic rider this season has been Scot Becky Storrie, who finished eighth last season in the elite time trial, and her progress has not gone unnoticed by Bigham.

“Becky Storrie is having a bit of a breakthrough season. She was in a select group on the queen stage mountain finish at the Women’s Tour.” 

2021 AJ Bell Women’s Tour of Britain – Stage Three- Individual Time Trial – Atherstone, England – CAMS Basso’s Becky Storrie rolls off the ramp. Photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Another Scot, 21-year-old Anna Shackley (Team SD Worx), won the under-23 national time trial last year and will be looking for a strong result in her first national elite test in her home country.

Finally, Bianchi HUNT Morvélo rider Leah Dixon has had a relatively quiet season but she was third in the event in October so cannot be dismissed here.

Timings

Men’s U23: first rider off at 10.00.

Women’s U23: first rider off at 10.50.

Men’s elite: first rider off at 13.45.

Women’s elite: first rider off at 17.15.

The startlist has the start times for each individual rider.

How to follow

There is no live TV coverage of the time trial but there will be live updates via British Cycling’s social media channels. We will also be providing updates on our own Twitter feed.

Highlights will be on ITV4 on Tuesday 28 June at 6pm.

Weather

The weather is forecast to be dry and mild with a gentle breeze, so should not be too much of a factor.