After the fan-packed National Circuit Series races in Otley and Ilkley this week, the domestic peloton switches its attention to the National Road Series this Sunday, which resumes with the Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix in County Durham.
Here is our preview.
Featured photo: Craig Zadoroznyj/SWpix.com. 2019 Stockton Grand Prix.
What is it?
Taking place in County Durham in and around Stockton-on-Tees, the Grand Prix forms Round 3 of the women’s National Road Series, and Round 2 of the men’s National Road Series.
The race is a relatively new one on the domestic calendar. It played host to the National Road Championship in its first edition back in 2016, when Adam Blythe and Hannah Barnes won the coveted national road race champions jerseys. Since then, there have been three editions of the men’s race, won by Matt Gibson (2017), Brenton Jones (2018) and John Archibald (2019). The women’s race resumed in 2018 when it was won by Jess Roberts, while in 2019 Becky Durrell was the victor.
The course starts on the riverside in Stockton-on-Tees and then heads out north-west of the town for laps of a rolling, open road circuit, passing through Thorpe Thewles, Redmarshall, Whitton and Thorpe Leazes.
This larger circuit is 13 km in length according the VeloViewer and takes in 143 m of climbing. The rolling terrain can make for hard, selective racing, and will aide those keen on getting in the break.
The race then moves back into town for six laps of a shorter, more technical riverside circuit along the River Tees. It might be technical but it is also flat, providing an opportunity for the peloton to reel back in any breaks before the finish.
The course is relatively flat for a national road race, and the race has typically finished in bunch sprints as a result. The exception was John Archibald’s incredible long-range solo win in 2019. So this could be a rare National Road Series race for the sprinters.
The women’s race takes in 6 laps of the main circuit and 4 of the riverside circuit, covering 113 km in total. The men, meanwhile, cover 176 km in all, riding 10 laps of the main circuit and then 6 of the riverside circuit.
Riders to watch
View the startlists here.
In a race that typically favours the sprinters there are a number of riders to watch then National Road Series leader Alice McWilliam (Bianchi HUNT Morvélo) is one of the obvious picks. She can cope with the rolling terrain of the main circuit but also has a fast finish. She ably demonstrated this with 5th place in a bunch sprint at the Lotto Belgium Tour against so very strong opposition.
Junior talent Emma Jeffers (JRC-Interflon) has pulled off some incredible sprint finishes in circuit races this season despite riding on junior gears. If she can cope with the distance then you can expect her to be in the mix.
Le Col-Wahoo pair El King and April Tacey both have strong sprints. King showed her speed to win in Ilkley on Friday night while Tacey’s power helped her win stages of the Virtual Tour de France. Team LDN – Brother UK’s Lucy Lee is another quick rider to watch; she won a sprint stage of the Volta a Portugal Feminina Cofidis last season.
Unfortunately, illness means Otley GP winner Charlotte Broughton (AWOL O’Shea) won’t take to the start. CAMS-Basso’s 19-year-old Maddie Leech is another fast finisher that has been withdrawn from the startlist. Both would have otherwise been on our list. You have to feel for the Alba Road Development squad too; the entire team has withdrawn from the race after a Covid case and several other riders feeling unwell.
A bunch finish might be the most likely outcome but if it’s a race for the breakaway then riders such as Danni Shrosbree and Sammie Stuart (both CAMS-Basso), Lucy Gadd (Storey Racing), Flora Perkins (Le Col-Wahoo), Monica Greenwood (Team Boompods) and Jo Tindley (Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes p/b Heidi Kjeldsen) could all feature. In fact, any of these riders could also be prominent in a bunch gallop.
Prediction? El King seems to be in formidable form at the moment, and with Perkins and Tacey she has the perfect pair of foils. King for the win (again).
WiV SunGod fields a powerful squad that includes sprinters Matt Bostock and Jim Brown. Bostock, the recently crowned National Circuit Race Champion, will start the race as favourite. There is no one faster in the domestic peloton in our minds. He’ll be stinging after missing out on the win in the melee at Ilkley too. Brown is already a UCI race winner this season, so is an able alternative if needed.
Another hotly-tipped rider is Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic winner Finn Crockett, who is back after time out with Covid and is a strong sprinter. He may need to take some time to rediscover his race legs but if he hits the ground running then he should feature. His teammate Red Walters also has a fast finish. Saint Piran’s brothers, Leon and Tom Mazzone, both have the speed and guile to win a race like this too, and their teammate Charles Page is another sprinter who could pull off a good result.
Will Tidball (Team Inspired) From the Elite Development Teams, Wales Racing Academy’s Sam Beckett was winning bunch sprints earlier this year in National B road races so it will be interesting to see how he fairs against tougher opposition.
If a break goes clear, then watch out for riders like last year’s National Road Series winner Jacob Scott (WiV SunGod), Harry Tanfield (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling), James Jenkins (Richardsons-Trek DAS) and Bob Donaldson (Team Inspired).
We’ll be keeping tabs on 18-year-old Callum Thornley (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) too. He took a surprise second place in the U23 national time trial but since then finished 16th in the national circuit race and 6th in Otley, suggesting he could be in the mix in Stockton too.
The men’s National Road Series leader Luke Lamperti (TRINITY Racing) doesn’t start, neither does second-placed Ben Perry (WiV SunGod), meaning Finn Crockett is the best-placed rider in the Series standings ahead of the start.
Prediction. Has to be Matt Bostock.
|9.00||Women’s race start|
|11.45||Women’s race approximate finish|
|13.00||Men’s race start|
|17.00||Men’s race approximate finish|
At the time of writing, the forecast says it will be warm, with sunny intervals and a moderate breeze. Good for racing and spectating alike.
How to follow
We are excited to say that Velo29 is providing a live stream of both races. The stream will go live from 9.00 for the women’s race and 13.00 for the men’s race.