Previews

2022 Manx Telecom International stage race: preview

Detailed preview of the Manx Telecom International stage race; round 5 of the women’s National Road Series and round 4 of the men’s National Road Series, 22-24 July 2022

The National Road Series continues this weekend with the Manx Telecom International, the only stage race of the Series in 2022.

Here is our preview, with insider course info from local rider Tom Mazzone.

Featured photo: SWPix

What is it?

Running from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 July, the Manx Telecom International is the fourth edition of a revived classic.

In essence, it is a reboot of a race was a firm fixture of the British road racing calendar until 2003. First run in 1936, it was a race that attracted some of the most iconic names in the sport in its heyday, including Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Tom Simpson and Eddy Merckx.

The race was revived in 2016, forming part of British Cycling’s Spring Cup Series. Then the following year, the race hosted the British national road race championships. The race was then brought back in 2019 as a three-day, four-stage race won by Matt Holmes.

At the time, the organisers said that they had planned to hold this new edition every two years. It wasn’t held during the pandemic-affected years in 2020 or 2021, but now makes a welcome return. Importantly, the event now includes a women’s stage race alongside the men’s.

It has a novel format, designed to cram in enough racing to encourage riders from the mainland to make the trip over to the Isle of Man. It promises to make it an intriguing, exciting weekend of racing, with a stage for every type of rider.

2019 HSBC UK National Road Series – Cycle 360 Manx International Stage 4 – Matt Holmes of Madison Genesis celebrates winning the stage and overall GC. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Race guide

The race will involve four competitions:

  • General classification (sponsored by Manx Telecom)
  • Points competition (sponsored by Bikmo)
  • Under-23 competition (sponsored by Canada Life International)
  • Leading Manx rider (sponsored by Synapse 360).

Stage details

Stage 1 – Friday, 22 July

The event begins with a good old-fashioned Friday-night criterium.

RaceStart timeDistanceNo. of laps
Women’s18.3033 km30
Men’s19.4544 km40

The crit uses the same fast 1.1 km circuit around the Isle of Man Business Park that was used in the 2019 race. That evening it was won by Ed Clancy, with home rider Matt Bostock a close second.

It is fast and flowing with only four corners that shouldn’t require too much slowing down for

Tom Mazzone (Saint Piran)

Starting and finishing near the Manx Telecom headquarters at the west end of Ballacottier Cresent, the circuit goes in an anti-clockwise direction. There is then a ninety-degree turn as riders then breeze past Cycle 360 to the Cooil Road roundabout. After another ninety-degree lefthander, the course then hits the arrow straight The Cooil Road. Two more left-hand turns ensue before the run-in to the finish. Riders will want the inside line as they hit the right-hand bend in the final one hundred metres or so.

Tom Mazzone’s view:

The kermesse circuit around the business park is the same as in 2019. It is fast and flowing with only four corners that shouldn’t require too much slowing down for, so I would say that will make for an exciting and aggressive race on the night, very similar to what you would expect at a National Circuit Series round but with the added element of the sprint laps for the points jersey.

I can imagine there will be a few races within the race which should make it an interesting one to watch and will come down to a reduced bunch sprint or small breakaway contesting the win. Local man Matt Bostock is on fine form and I’m sure he will be keen to get his first win in the national stripes in front of a home crowd. Fellow Manxman, my brother Leon, will also motivated to get the race off to a good start with a solid result on a course that should be well suited to him.

Technical info

  • Points will be awarded at the end of every ten laps (including the finish) for the first four over the line (5-3-2-1).
  • No laps out for mechanical issues or crashes.
  • Lapped riders will be instructed to sprint at three laps to go and finish that lap into the pits. They will be allocated a time based on the race average lap time for the stage plus a 10 second penalty for every lap lost, adjusted to place them after the last rider to complete the full distance..
  • In the event of a rider failing to finish a stage, they will be allocated a GC time two minutes greater than the slowest rider to finish and will then be eligible to re-start the following stage.
  • Lapped riders must not impede the progress of the lapping riders, nor must they manipulate the outcome of the race. Riders found to be deliberately flouting this regulation will be penalised.
  • A rider(s) will be considered lapped when the leading rider(s) make the junction with the rear of the group that they are within.
  • A rider crashing within the final three laps of the stage will be credited with the same time as the group that they were in.

Stage 2 – Saturday, 23 July

The race moves to the Jurby Airfield Raceway on Saturday morning for a fast kermesse-style circuit race. With barely an elevation at all, this will be another stage that suits the fast men and women.

RaceStart timeDistanceNo. of laps
Women’s race9.3040 km15
Men’s race10.4540 km15

It is an open and exposed circuit which could cause some splits if the wind blows

Tom Mazzone (Saint Piran)

The circuit is 2.63 km long and contains barely any elevation. Used as a motor racing circuit, the tarmac should be wide but it contains enough hairpins, bends and variations to keep the riders on their toes.

Tom Mazzone’s view:

The first of two new stage additions to the race for this year, the circuit race on Jurby Airfield, a former Royal Air Force station in the Second World War, is now predominantly used for motorcycle racing and shakedowns ahead of the Isle of Man TT races. More recently it’s been used for some local handicap races.

It is an open and exposed circuit which could cause some splits if the wind blows as forecasted but I think the stage will most likely end up in a bunch sprint unless a strong group containing a good combination of riders manages to slip away.

Technical info

  • Points will be awarded at the end of every five laps (including the finish) for the first four over the line (5-3-2-1).
  • No laps out for mechanical issues or crashes.
  • Lapped riders will be instructed to sprint at three laps to go and finish that lap into the pits. They will be allocated a time based on the race average lap time for the stage plus a 10-second penalty for every lap lost, adjusted to place them after the last rider to complete the full distance.
  • In the event of a rider failing to finish a stage, they will be allocated a GC time two minutes greater than the slowest rider to finish and will then be eligible to re-start the following stage.
  • Lapped riders must not impede the progress of the lapping riders, nor must they manipulate the outcome of the race. Riders found to be deliberately flouting this regulation will be penalised.
  • A rider(s) will be considered lapped when the leading rider(s) make the junction with the rear of the group that they are within.
  • A rider crashing within the final lap of the stage will be credited with the same time as the group that they were in.

Stage 3 – Saturday, 23 July

This is where the GC race truly begins as the riders take on flat 16 km time trial on an out-and-back course. Essentially it’s an old-fashioned 10-mile TT, only here riders are restricted to using their road bikes.

RaceStart timeDistance
Women’s race13.3016 km
Men’s race14.5016 km

Time trials are a rarity in the National Road Series – a shame in our opinion – so it will be fascinating to see which riders prevail here. GC time differences should be tight after the first two stages, so we should begin to see some gaps open up.

The course could prove to be deceivingly tough with some rough and ready road surfaces and slight drags throughout

Tom Mazzone

Local riders will be familiar with this course. Indeed, Becky Storrie holds the QOM on Strava for this segment, while Jessie Carridge holds the fifth-fastest women’s time. Meanwhile, male participants Tyler Hannay and James Harrison are also high up on the men’s leaderboard so will know this course well.

Tom Mazzone’s view:

The race against the clock, a very different time trial to the one that faced the riders when the race last visited the island [Ed: it was a hill climb]. It is a relatively flat, out and back course that includes a dead turn just after the halfway point. The course could prove to be deceivingly tough with some rough and ready road surfaces and slight drags throughout.

Pacing will be key to a good ride, especially on road bikes and the stage will be an important one for the riders targeting GC not to lose time against their rivals. The stage win is up for grabs too, of course, and it’s probably one for a TT specialist. 

Technical info

  • No points will be awarded on this stage.
  • Stage 3 is restricted to road bikes only and no aero helmets may be used 
  • Riders will start at 1-minute intervals in reverse order of GC. 
  • Riders who finish more than 10-minutes behind the winner will be eliminated from the race.
  • Riders who are forced to retire due to a crash or mechanical issue will be permitted to start the next stage with a time awarded equal to the slowest time plus 8-minutes.

Stage 4 – Sunday, 24 July

The final stage is the queen stage, the longest and hilliest of the four, finishing by the iconic TT Grandstand.

RaceStart timeDistance
Women’s race12.3089 km
Men’s race13.15132 km

The final stage will be the most testing of the whole race and will very likely decide who wins the overall classification

Tom Mazzone

Women’s race

The women’s race is 89 km in total and takes 1,386 m of climbing.

TIt begins with one lap of the iconic TT Snaefell Mountain Course’, below, a hilly 60 km circuit that takes the riders over 400m above sea-level.

The riders then take in a smaller loop through the Baldwin Valleys, which includes the ‘Injebreck’, a brutal 1.8 km of ascent that averages 12.4%, with a maximum gradient of 18.4%. The toughest climb of this year’s National Road Series, by our reckoning. It tops out just over 16 km from the finish, so should serve as a decisive point in the race. Anna Christian holds the Strava QOM, by the way, in a time of 8 minutes and 47 seconds. Participants Becky Storrie and Jessie Carridge are third and fourth respectively on the leaderboard.

It is followed by around 6 km of false flat before a second descent of the Mountain Road to the finish at the TT Grandstand. 

Men’s race

The men cover 132 km in distance and 2073 m of climbing in their race.

The route follows the same course as the women’s: one lap of the 60 km TT circuit followed by the smaller loop that includes the fearsome Injebreck Hill (Peter Kennaugh holds the men’s Strava KOM with an incredible 6 minutes and 22 seconds) and then the second descent of the Mountain Road to the finish at the TT Grandstand.

Rather than finishing there, however, the men then complete 6 laps of a 7.2 km finishing circuit (below).

Tom Mazzone’s view:

As in 2019, the final stage will be the most testing of the whole race and will very likely decide who wins the overall classification. It is a slightly changed and arguably tougher stage than previous years, with only one lap of the Mountain Circuit, one lap of the newly introduced Injerbrek circuit and then – for the men at least – onto the finishing circuits that were used when the National Road Championships were held in 2017.

It will no doubt be an attritional day and the race will be whittled down throughout until a decisive move will most likely form on the finishing laps and be won from a reduced group or late attack.

Technical info

  • Men’s race only: Points will be awarded at the TT Grandstand end of loop 1, loop 2, on each passing of the finishing circuit and at the finish for the first 4 over the line (5-3-2-1)
  • Women’s race only: Points will be awarded at the TT Grandstand end of loop 1 and at the Finish for the first 4 over the line, 5-3-2-1 
  • An 8-minute time cut-off will be operated at each passing of the TT Grandstand. In addition, and subject to the situation of the race, riders who fall significantly behind the main field elsewhere on the course may be instructed to withdraw.
  • A rider crashing within the final 3km of stage 4 will be credited with the same time as the group that they were in.

Riders to watch

Startlist

View the startlists here.

National Road Series standings here.

The start list is small. At the time of writing, there were just 61 confirmed starters for the women’s race and 80 confirmed for the men’s race. This perhaps reflects the high costs for riders and teams on the mainland of getting to, and staying in, the Isle of Man. Saint Piran, meanwhile, have UCI road racing commitments over in France with the Grand Prix de la ville de Pérenchies (hence Tom Mazzone’s absence from the startlist). Nonetheless, there is certainly quality in the line-up even if quantity is missing. 

There is plenty of local interest too, with Becky Storrie (CAMS-Basso), Jessie Carridge (Brother UK-Orientation Marketing), Matt Bostock (WiV SunGod), Leon Mazzone (Saint Piran), Tyler Hannay (CC Etupes), and the Cycling Club Isle of Man team are among the local riders who will take to the start.

Contenders

Women’s race

UCI Continental outfit CAMS-Basso once again arrive with a strong team. Local rider Becky Storrie had a phenomenal start to the season, including a commanding Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix win. She’s had some time out from racing, but if she is anywhere near top form she’ll be one of the favourites for the overall.

Becky Storrie wins the 2022 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix. Photo: Joe Cotterill/The British Continental

Her teammate Sammie Stuart is another rider that should perform well. Accomplished in crit racing, powerful enough to succeed in the road bike TT and with the strength and endurance to place highly on the final stage, she’ll be another to watch. Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix winner Jess Finney is another option for the team.

Mary Wilkinson (Team Boompods) takes part fresh from her Lancaster Grand Prix success and the climber will no doubt be licking her lips at the prospect of the hilly terrain on stage 4.

Manx rider Jessie Carridge (Brother UK-Orientation Marketing) will be well-motivated for this reason and – with the third at the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix and seventh at the Lancaster Grand Prix – has already proven she’s one of the strongest domestic riders on a punchy course this year.

National Road Series leader Alice McWilliam (Bianchi HUNT Morvélo) has been the model of consistency so far in the Series without ever quite getting the win. With four stage opportunities, plus the overall, she has enough all-round qualities for that to change on the Isle of Man.

Alice McWilliam climbs Michaelgate at the 2022 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix. Photo: Joe Cotterill/The British Continental

Lucy Ellmore and Jo Tindley (both Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes by Heidi Kjeldsen) are two more to watch. Ellmore has typically gone well on the type of lumpy terrain offered up on stage 4, while Tindley has proven her class on all types of terrain in the past. She is overdue a big win this year, so this race could be her chance.

Lee Boon (Torelli-Cayman-Islands-Scimitar) and junior sensation Emma Jeffers (JRC-INTERFLON Race Team) have been excellent in crits this year, so they will be two of the favourites on stages 1 and 2.

Lucy Lee (Team LDN – Brother UK) looks back to her best after finishing fourth in Lancaster, so we’re excited to see how share fares this weekend. Finally, our journal contributor Alice Lethbridge (AWOL O’Shea) is proven tester, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on her on stage 3 in particular.

Men’s race

We feel like a broken record saying this, but WiV SunGod are once again the team to beat this weekend. They arrive on the Isle of Man with a squad capable of winning every stage and the overall to boot. In national circuit race champion Matt Bostock they have the sprints covered, with Jim Brown and Irish road race champion Rory Townsend alternative options. Jake Scott, Townsend, Ben Perry and Matthew Teggart are on options for wins on stage 4 – and for the overall too. Toby Barnes is no slouch either.

Ben Perry walks off the podium after the 2022 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix. Photo: Joe Cotterill/The British Continental

Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling are normally their closest domestic rivals but have been suffering the after-effects of illness and injury. Finn Crockett seems back on form now. He was seventh at the Lancaster Grand Prix and will be keen to defend his National Road Series lead, so expect him to be in the thick of the action throughout. Zeb Kyffin is another in-form rider (fifth at Lancaster). Stuart Balfour and Harry Tanfield would normally be picks too, although their form is more uncertain.

Finn Crockett takes on Michaelgate at the 2022 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix. Photo: Joe Cotterill/The British Continental

The other UCI Continental team at the race, Saint Piran, have a split programme this weekend, with half the squad out in France racing the Grand Prix de la ville de Pérenchies. They nonetheless have local rider Leon Mazzone who can do as well in a crit as he can in a punchy stage 4-type affair. New signing Adam Lewis is another rider that can go well on the hills, while Scot Michael Gill should be one to watch in the TT.

The UCI Continental teams won’t necessarily have it all their own way, however. Zappi Racing bring a strong young team, including Ben Granger and Matthew Kingston, both of whom have the potential to pull off a big result here.

Cycling Sheffield pair George Wood and Adam Mitchell can both go well on the hills, so could feature on stage 4 in particular. James Jenkins (Richardsons Trek DAS) is an excellent tester, so watch out for him on stage 3; he’s our dark horse for the race. His teammate Conor McGoldrick is another rider capable of a big result.

Finally, last year’s Junior Tour of Wales winner Tyler Hannay (CC Etupes) will be well-motivated. He’s a Manxman who has been plying his trade for Adam Yates’ former team out in France this year. He is another good time triallist and this race will be a useful marker of his progress so far in his first year as an under-23.

How to follow

British Cycling will have live updates on Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow the race Twitter and Instagram here and here.

Weather

The forecast suggests stage 1 will be greeted by light cloud and gentle breeze. Showers might dog the riders on stages 2 and 3, while things should be mild and dry on Sunday for the queen stage.