Britain’s finest domestic road racing talents will assemble in Northumberland this weekend for the prestigious Curlew Cup and Beaumont Trophy road races.
The recent cancellation of the inaugural East Cleveland Classic means that the races now form the final rounds of the women’s and men’s 2023 National Road Series respectively. With individual and team Series honours still to play for, Sunday should serve up some tense and thrilling racing.
This is our in-depth preview of the two races, with detailed analysis of the route and contenders.
Photo: Craig Zadoroznyj/SWpix.com. 2021 HSBC UK National Road Series – Curlew Cup 2021 – CAMS Basso Bikes, Eilidh Shaw of Tofauti Everyone Active.
About the races
The Curlew Cup and Beaumont Trophy are part of the Cyclone Festival of Cycling, a weekend cycling festival that also features a sportive and family leisure rides (this year held on 30 June and 1 July). The Curlew Cup is the fifth and final round of the women’s National Road Series, with the Beaumont Trophy forming fourth and final race of the men’s Series.
The men’s Beaumont Trophy has a storied history dating back to 1952, when it was presented by Rex Beaumont, a cycle and motorcycle wholesaler based in Newcastle. The event is steeped in tradition and has seen some of the country’s most talented cyclists battle it out for glory over the years, a highlight on the UK cycling calendar since its inception. It has attracted big names in British and international cycling over the years. Previous winners include legends like Sir Bradley Wiggins, Malcolm Elliot and the Downing brothers. Last year’s winner was WorldTour-bound Jack Rootkin-Gray (Saint Piran), who is back this year to defend his crown.
Launched in 2012, the Curlew Cup might have less history but it has quickly become a key fixture on the women’s racing calendar and regularly attracts not only the top domestic teams but a number of international-based British talents. It has its own roll call of notable past winners including Dame Sarah Storey, Hannah Barnes, and Katie Archibald. Alice McWilliam, then of Bianchi HUNT Morvélo, now at Hess Cycling Team, won last year’s edition.
Starting and finishing in the charming village of Stamfordham, Northumberland, both races take in a picturesque route featuring a challenging mix of climbs, fast descents, and technical B-roads. The infamous Ryals climb is at the heart of the course, a 2.7km ascent featuring a series of steps and gradients hitting up to 13% in places.
The Curlew Cup entails three laps of a 40.8km circuit, with a total race distance of 122.4 kilometres, according to the race manual (see the VeloViewer route below). 1,593 metres of elevation is tackled in the process.
The Beaumont Trophy meanwhile takes in four laps of the large circuit, and then also one lap of a shorter 22 kilometre circuit before the finish, making for a 182.3 kilometre race with 2,312 metres of climbing in all.
About 30 kilometres into the large circuit, the Ryals climb provides the stiffest obstacle of the day. It is preceded by a fast descent, so positioning is important here. What then follows is a drag of over two kilometres featuring three steep ramps in succession. It’s often the decisive point in the race and is where Team Sky launched their attack in the 2011 National Road Championships that led to Sir Bradley Wiggins’ nationals win.
The rise from West Belsay to Kirkheaton can also be a decisive feature if there is a strong enough westerly wind.
The men’s finishing circuit includes nothing as testing at the Ryals but nonetheless features two short sharp rises, one at the beginning of the lap with gradients of up to 7% and another with about 14 kilometres to go that could provide launchpads for potentially decisive attacks. It’s pretty much all downhill from about nine kilometres to go, bar a small rise to the finish line.
Riders to watch
Updated: 15 September
Women’s provisional startlist here.
Women’s National Road Series standings here.
Series leader Monica Greenwood (DAS-Handsling) will start as one of the favourites, still on the hunt for an elusive first National Road Series road race victory, and gunning to seal the Series win. Her nearest rival in the Series, Mary Wilkinson (Team Boompods) sits 20 points behind. Wilkinson has looked stronger as the season has progressed – she was third at the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix –
so Greenwood will need to watch the talented climber closely, especially on the Ryal but a broken collarbone at the Rás na mBan last week means she won’t be able to contest the Series win.
The leading U23 rider in the Series is 2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix winner Robyn Clay. Clay has Greenwood in her sights for the overall title too, 31 points back (50 points are awarded to the race winner). She will be a threat for the win, backed up by a strong Pro-Noctis – Heidi Kjeldsen – 200 Degrees Coffee team, which also includes Zoe Langham, who sits 5th in The British Continental national road race rankings.
Greenwood is supported by a strong team, including
2022 National Road Series winner Sammie Stuart, recent Rás na mBan stage winner Emma Jeffers and the leader of The British Continental national road race rankings, Lucy Lee.
Hutchinson-Brother is another strong team, Lancaster Grand Prix winner Ruth Shier among their contenders. Tammy Miller, winner of the Halesowen A&CC British Team Cup Race earlier this month, is another to watch. And don’t forget Tiffany Keep, just four points behind Clay in the Series standings and in superb form. She could challenge Greenwood for the top spot. The squad is also just 29 points behind DAS-Handsling in the Series team standings, so we will looking to pack out the top places to usurp Greenwood’s team.
Others to watch include
2023 CiCLE Classic winner Jess Finney (AWOL O’Shea), Lifeplus-Wahoo rider Kate Richardson and Wahoo-Le Col’s Lizi Brooke, an e-racing specialist who has blossomed on the road this year.
Men’s provisional startlist here.
Men’s National Road Series standings here
Saint Piran is once again the team to watch in the men’s race. The team has completely dominated the National Road Series this year, taking clean sweeps of the podium in every race. Another all-conquering performance is expected again this weekend.
Series leader Zeb Kyffin starts the race with an eight-point lead on his teammate Harry Birchill, who also heads the U23 Series rankings. The pair are the only two riders with a mathematical chance of the Series win so team tactics may come into play in deciding the victor. We hear Birchill has been suffering with illness, which may mean the title is Kyffin’s is there for the taking.
Last year’s winner Jack Rootkin-Gray (who joins EF Education-EasyPost next season), Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix Alex Richardson, and Commonwealth Games road race medallist Finn Crockett are another three incredibly strong options for the team. New signing James McKay, who currently tops The British Continental national road race rankings,
is not currently on the provisional startlist, which may mean he loses his rankings top spot to his teammate Kyffin. is now on the provisional startlist and will need to score well to maintain his lead over Kyffin.
TRINITY Racing appears to be the squad most likely to rival Saint Piran. The team’s provisional line-up includes 2023 Orlens Grand Prix stage winner Bob Donaldson, 2022 Tour Alsace champion Finlay Pickering and Max Walker, who was ninth in the recent U23 world road race championships. If the squad makes it to the start line (the team has pulled several riders from the startlist ahead of previous rounds), then Saint Piran may be challenged.
Elsewhere on the provisional startlist, Wales Racing Academy’s Ed Morgan was the ‘best of the rest’ at the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix, finishing sixth behind five Saint Piran riders.
Thomas Armstrong (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli), Damien Clayton (Embark Spirit BSS), Ollie Peckover (trainSharp Elite) and under-23 revelation Rowan Baker (London Dynamo) are other names that could feature in the top ten based on recent form.
Women’s race: begins at 8.45 with the finish estimated at 11.48 (assumes a 40 km/ph schedule).
Men’s race: starts at 13.15 with a 17.39 finish (on a 42 km/ph schedule).
The forecast suggests light rain and a gentle breeze will be the order of the day.
How to follow
British Cycling will be providing race updates through its Twitter account, and over on Instagram too.
Sadly, we won’t be at the race this year but will publish a race report on Sunday evening.