Road Cycling

Preview: Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix – British Cycling

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.

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 champion’s 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 race is relatively flat and has typically finished in bunch sprints; the exception was John Archibald’s incredible long range solo win in 2019.

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. The race then moves back into town for six laps of a shorter, more technical riverside circuit along the River Tees. The main circuit can make for hard, selective racing, but the finishing loop is flat, providing an opportunity for the peloton to reel back in any breaks before the finish.

The women’s race begins at 9.00 and takes in six laps of the main circuit and four of the riverside circuit, covering 113 km in total. The men, meanwhile, start at 13.00. They will cover 176 km in all, riding 10 laps of the main circuit and then six of the riverside circuit.

So, who to watch? In a race that typically favours the sprinters there are a number of riders to watch in the women’s race. Otley GP winner Charlotte Broughton (AWOL O’Shea) is clearly in great form and a fine sprinter. National Road Series leader Alice McWilliam (Bianchi HUNT Morvélo) has a fast finish and impressed in the Lotto Belgium Tour this week. Other fast finishers on the provisional startlist include CAMS-Basso’s 19-year-old Maddie Leech, junior talent Emma Jeffers (JRC-Interflon) and Le Col-Wahoo pair El King and April Tacey.

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 the men’s race, WiV SunGod field a powerful squad that includes sprinters Matt Bostock and Jim Brown. Bostock, the recently crowned national circuit race champion will start the race as a favourite.

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. Saint Piran’s Mazzone brothers, Leon and Tom, both have the speed and guile to win a race like this too. From the Elite Development Teams, Wales Racing Academy’s Sam Beckett was winning bunch sprints earlier this year in National B road races.

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).

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.

Both races are being streamed live. You can watch them on the Velo29 website. Alternatively, you can follow the action on British Cycling social media channels.

For more a more in-depth preview of the race, as well as the latest start lists, head to The British Continental.