The Brit Awards & Scots Metallurgy?

Tomorrow British Road Race Championships in Glasgow are gong to be incredibly tough, there’s a large number of world-class riders in both races. Our home-grown riders are going to have to pull off an extraordinary ride, plus have lots of luck on their sides to sneak near a podium. A circuit such as this, with plenty of crunch points, can mean that if there’s a group left at the finish with some of our home-grown riders in it, anything could happen. The men’s race is probably going to be an impossible task to podium for any domestic pro, but our riders can still pull off an incredible ride. The women’s race is likely to be more level, with the top riders not having such an extensive international calendar to ride, so the difference should be less.

The Ladies

Who are the Scots?

  • Jane Barr : Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team
  • Anne Ewing : Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team
  • Eileen Roe : Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team
  • Laura Murray : Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team
  • Katie Archibald : City of Edinburgh RC
  • Claire Martin : Edinburgh RC
  • Jennifer Taylor : Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers
  • Julie Erskine : Granite City RT
  • Charline Joiner : MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling
  • Gemma Neill : Pedal Power RT
  • Anda-Jay Burgess : Sandy Wallace Cycles
  • Claire Thomas : Unattached

The Scots quartet from the Breast Cancer Care Team are all very strong riders, but as I’ve suggested on Twitter, I think Eileen Roe is going to thrive in the rainy & slippy conditions tomorrow. A strong cyclo-cross rider, skilled in many disciplines & able to handle a bike in slippery conditions, Belgian sprint finishes & icy cross races, she should be able to use less energy during the race to hold position, I’m tipping her for a great ride tomorrow, top Scot on this course, in these conditions. The full podium from the Scottish champs in May will be here, with champ Jennifer Taylor & Julie Erskine riding. I’ll be really interested to see how Katie Archibald gets on, she seems like a robust rider, but potentially lacking some road racing experience, this race should help, but she will be fast & able to handle pace changes, which this course will throw up relentlessly. Charlene Joiner is another to watch, she’s been improving her road racing recently from her track background, her turn of speed in the finish could surprise others, but she has to get there first. The race will be invaluable for next years Commonwealth Games for these riders, not just for the course, but also for experiencing racing in front of large crowds, which domestic based riders will rarely have seen.

The Gents

Who are the Scots?

  • Michael Nicolson : Doltcini Flanders
  • Alex Coutts : Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com
  • Gary Hand : Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com
  • Robert Hassan : Ibaigane Opel
  • David Lines : MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling
  • Andrew Fenn : Omega-Pharma – Quickstep
  • James McCallum : Rapha Condor JLT
  • Scott McCrossan : Rock to Roll Cycles Ltd
  • Ross Edgar : Team IG – Sigma Sport
  • Evan Oliphant : Team Raleigh
  • Robert Wardell : Trek UK
  • *Update – Craig Adams : GJS Cruise Racing (added from reserve list)
  • *Update – Andrew Whitehall : Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers (added from reserve list)
  • *Update – Peter Hale : GJS Cruise Racing (added from reserve list)

We also have a few other Scots who you can also adopt, but could ride for other parts of the UK if they choose, so I’ll not label them if they perhaps don’t want labelled. Ali Rutherford (Wheelbase/Altura/MGD) has ridden the Commie Games for Scotland previously & was on the podium at the Scottish road champs last year, his dad Jimmy, may be known to many of you. David Millar (Garmin Sharp), Malta born with a Scottish father, lived as a toddler in Forres, a teenager in Hong Kong and then global jetsetter, will be fiercely named as a true Scotsman if he gets a podium. Our newly adopted Scotsman, but not quite officially yet as he’s not quite lived in Scotland long enough, is Ben Greenwood (Team Hope Factory Racing), the popular rider who recently rode on a Scottish national team at the Ras. Don’t be surprised if he’s quite rightly one of us in the Commonwealth Games next year.

It’s unlikely the Scots will ride as a team, they’re pretty much fragmented across a wide variety of teams of different standings, although you may find a few lone wolves clubbing together to try to get something out of the race. Recent Scottish champ Gary Hand is undoubtably in form, but part of a strong team, so he may be involved in getting a result for one of them, the same with the other Scottish champs podium riders James McCallum & David Lines. McCallum has been racing visibly up front in a large number of televised criterium races recently, so his form is there, but perhaps not had time to gain the endurance for an event of this length after running about the UK for the last few weeks. Uber talent Hassan is an unknown, he’s been racing in the Basque country, the prolonged climbing in those races may not be ideal preparation for this type of event. Oliphant & Nicholson could do great rides too, Oliphant always has form, but again is racing with an ambitious Raleigh Team who will be wanting a big result. Nicholson could be a surprise to many, his diet of racing in Belgium isn’t too dissimilar from the style of course here, he has no team commitments either, so one to watch. Rab Wardell, the mountain biker is a classy road rider too, he’s been riding the world MTB circuit, including World Cup events. So not to be sniffed at & if you look at the amount of top-level road riders who have come from that scene and started performing in Grant Tours & Classics, Wardell should have some form & his social media shows he’s been taking the course preparation quite seriously.

We have two riders from the top-level teams, Millar & Fenn, I’ve got a hunch on Fenn. His teammate Cavendish is riding, so if Cav can force 2 or 3 Sky riders to destroy themselves early on to try & remove Cav, then the race gets onto a more even footing & Sky’s strength is diminished. So don’t be surprised if Fenn is left on his own by half way & the Omega Pharma quick-Step boys will be having a smile. Millar is always good, but I really don’t think it’s the course for him, if there’s a chance he gets to ride the Tour, he’ll also be riding on the more cautious side.

As you know from Champing At The Brits, I’m tipping Yorkshireman Adam Blythe for the win, after suffering through the Giro & having a rider of the quality of Cummings in support.

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Champing at the Brits

On June 23rd 2013, they’re only going & shutting down Glasgow City Centre for what will be a fantastic event, the British Cycling Road Race Championships!

The Courses

Fellow Scottish blogger @owenp has put up some information regarding the course HERE. The road race will be held on a 14.2km city centre course, the men will race 13 laps, the women 8 laps. However, the time trial will not be city centre based, but instead held near Stewarton, at first thought this seems a huge contrast in priorities of RR v TT, but read on.

The main purpose of hosting this years British champs as far as Glasgow Life are concerned, is to provide a test run for the main event, the 2014 Commonwealth Games. So with the huge expense of shutting down a major city centre, it’s no surprise that they are doing if for one day only in 2013. They’ll get all the info they need for the Commonwealths from this, there’s no need to use it for the time trial too. Based on this I’d expect the Commonwealth Games time trial to also be city centre based, perhaps not using the short sharp inclines from the road race course, but you never know. I actually think this is a very good plan that’s been set out here, it shows a fair amount of forethought and to hold the British Road Race Championships on a city centre closed circuit is a bold statement of intent, have the champs ever even been run on fully closed roads before on mainland UK, I’m not sure they have since the Isle of Man a good few years ago.

RR Course map click HERE.

TT Course map click HERE.

On the above assumptions, I’m not going to dwell too much on the TT, but concentrate more on the showpiece event, the men’s road race. As you can see from the map, the race start & finish is in Glasgow Green, which has also hosted a stage finish of the Tour of Britain. There’s some use of the pedestrianized shopping areas, like Argyle Street & Buchanan Street, but not the pedestrianized section of Sauchiehall Street, it joins on the road section of that street for obvious reasons, the permanent location of some serious obstacles would take a bit of moving. This takes it right into the heart of the city, the most visited streets, the places everybody can recognise on TV, it will also show Glasgow’s huge shopping areas to all the TV viewers, don’t forget that this is also a huge marketing opportunity that has been taken full advantage of by the hosts. We travel up & over to the West End, with no major climbs, but certainly some strength sapping inclines which are repeated for several hours, this isn’t an easy city centre course, as any rider trying to hit the sequence of lights without them changing red on St Vincent Street will attest, it takes lots of watts, this race will be gunning it.

Through Kelvingrove Park & then up again to Glasgow University, we can expect this will also be showing Glasgow in a very good light, there will be some great shots from here. Through to Byres Road, where we can expect visitors & clubmen enjoying a bit of cafe culture & some nice pubs (get your club ‘day out’ organised, you’ve plenty of options on this course for a bevvy!). We then ride uphill yet again, to Gibson Street, down & up to Park Circus, more rolling roads until we hit Montrose Street, which is a very steep little climb, should become quite painful after a few laps. This is no easy circuit, it’s worthy of a Championship, calls from some quarters of it going up the Crow are misguided, that’s too far from the finish to make much of a difference, the pro’s go up that in the big ring and really wouldn’t impact race to the extent some think, it’s a Tour cat 4 or at best a low-level cat 3.

Riders & Teams

Sky are the obvious favourites, if they field a full complement of British riders, they’ll have Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Gerraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Josh Edmonson, Luke Rowe, Ben Swift, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, then they’ll be in an incredibly strong position. But with that strength comes responsibility, it will be deemed to be up to them to remove Mark Cavendish from the running, which isn’t going to be easy on a course like this, Cav can survive very well on short steep climbs. This will likely result in a very aggressive race, with Cav’s only Omega-Pharma Quick-Step team mate being Scotsman Andrew Fenn. Elsewhere in the top ranked UCI Pro Teams, we have BMC with Steve Cummings & my top tip for this race, Adam Blythe, Garmin has only David Millar & Movistar just Alex Dowsett. So a potential threat is going to come from some of the UCI Pro Continental teams, with Team Netapp Endura fielding Russell Downing, Jonny McEvoy, Eric Rowsell & Scott Thwaites. The mostly British based UCI Continental teams like Raleigh, Rapha etc, all have riders capable of pulling off a great result, but it will take a huge bit of luck to outmaneuver the European based riders, it’s highly likely the winner will come from a UCI Pro Team. My hunch on Blythe, is based on the nature of this course & the fact that he is a rider who just needs that one break, it’s going to happen somewhere & it could be in Glasgow, the nature of the course being technical can also suit his bike handling skills, I’m still going for him regardless of his recent bad luck in races. As far as Scottish riders go, old favourites Evan Oliphant & James McCallum will surely be going well and looking for opportunities (Oliphant has just won the first event in the UK road race series, the Premier Calendar), but don’t underestimate Michael Nicholson, this circuit should suit the kind of racing he’s used to in Belgium, I expect he’ll do an impressive ride.

All the teams will let Sky do the donkey work initially, at least that’s what should happen, so expect to see some domestic teams getting riders in a break early on and then seeing Sky rip it to pieces, but perhaps leaving themselves open to a late assault once their numbers are depleted. We can expect their particular skills to be based on riding flat-out for 40mins + on French mountains, so probably not ideally suited to a technical ‘jumpy’ race with plenty of corners and lots of short ascents. Watch all the other favourites sit back and let the super team take control, by the time you’re on your 4th pint, the action should be kicking off and you can stick your head out of the pub to see what’s happening. We’ll probably not see Wiggins & Froome taking to active a roll at the sharp end, fearing a mishap for the Tour de France, so their focus may be more towards their aggressive sprinter types, like Rowe & Swift. I expect to see hard man sprinters getting podium places, so take your pick, Blythe, Rowe, Swift, Downing, Fenn, etc, but I do expect Cav not to be there, I don’t know how they’ll do it, but failing to eject him from the selection is leaving only one possibility, it’ll be a fast race.

Conclusion

If you think this is a non event, miss it at your peril, there’s household names racing on our home streets. Whether or not your one of the ‘glorified criterium’ brigade, or other doubters, you really need to get yourself out on that course & support an event of this stature, it’s going to incredible to watch. I’ll be there, hopefully on a sunny day with a pint in my hand from a suitably good vantage point, if I manage to find one, there’s absolutely no way I’m publishing where it is. Some things we need to keep to ourselves & make sure there’s not too big a queue at the bar. Viva the Champs.

British Road Champs predictions

As it’s early days, I’m making an early prediction on this one, Adam Blythe. Notoriously described as one of the best bike handlers in the business while riding on the ragged edge, this boy’s break year I anticipate is 2013. He’s only 23, but has gone through one hell of a introduction to bike racing, on the BC plan, then off the BC plan in 2008 “by mutual consent” to make his own way in Belgium, with the help of the legendary Tim Harris. Adam Blythe has got a very good mix of BC science & old school hardman, combined with being a Sheffield lad & the Tour starting in Sheffield in 2014, his motivation is going to be sky high, Sky beating high!

So multi British medalist on the track, to the BC ‘plan’, then on to three semi pro Belgian teams, which got him a 2009 place as a ‘Stagiaire’ in the Silence Lotto team, this secured a contract with Omega Pharma Lotto in 2010, wining the Circuit Franco-Belge, then moving onto BMC Racing Team and has been noted by Phillipe Gilbert on twitter as being a noted talent. Backed up by a rider as classy as Steve Cummings, Blythe can take Cav , or anybody in a sprint at the end of a tough race, and remember this will be a tough race, as Sky are in no danger of letting their former sprinter get to the end of this in the front group. No doubt Lizzie will be shouting along the sidelines too, so get yourselves to Glasgow and cheer on what looks like being an incredible race, right on our doorstep.

Adam Blythe, 2013 British Road Race champion, you heard it here first.