BRITISH RACING

All eyes will be on Venice on Saturday for the opening stage of the Giro d?Italia. With a record-breaking nine British riders to look out for and a good chance of Bradley Wiggins, David Millar or Mark Cavendish donning the pink jersey in the first few days, it promises to be a cracking good race.

Back on home soil, a 200-strong field tackle the Lincoln Grand Prix, the biggest and best Premier Calendar race of the year, on Sunday.

Russell Downing took his second Lincoln victory last year in glorious sunshine. The weather looks unlikely to be so kind this weekend but Downing will be looking for a repeat performance and will be the man to watch as usual.

Other previous winners tackling the one-in-six cobbled climb of Michaelgate include Dean Downing, Kristian House and Chris Newton , not to mention Malcolm Elliott. Most of the bunch weren?t born when the Sheffield man topped the podium ? 1983.

Round four of the Rudy Project time trial series sees the testers heading to Barton in Teeside. Richard Prebble (CandiTV-Pinarello) takes on round three winner Phillip Graves (Clifton CC) in the 33.5 mile event.

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HALFORDS BACK WELSH CHAMPIONS JERSEY

Nicole CookeAfter a ten-year gap, Welsh Champion?s jerseys will be seen this year thanks to backing from Halfords.

A host of road, track, mountain bike and BMX disciplines will this season be awarding the red, green and white jerseys previously worn by the likes of World and Olympic champion Nicole Cooke.

Ian Jenkins of Welsh Cycling said: ?We are delighted Halfords is working with us to reinstate this key part of the sport in Wales. Wearing the jersey was classed as a great honour and it gave incentive to riders ? especially the younger riders ? to succeed and gain the recognition when presented with the jersey. This investment will raise the profile of our Welsh Championship events and also inspire the next generation of future Welsh Champions.?

?It is great that the Welsh Champions are being supported by Halfords,? said Cooke. ?I remember competing in my first Welsh Championship and how proud I was to become Welsh Champion. I hope that all future Welsh Champions are inspired and motivated to continue aiming high and strive to improve to the next level.?


TOP FIELD FOR HILLINGDON CRIT

The National Criterium Series gets underway at Hillingdon circuit on Sunday, May 17, with a star-studded 81-man field headed for West London.

National Criterium Champion Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) faces the likes of Rob Hayles, Ed Clancy and Andy Tennant (all Halfords Bikehut) in the 50-mile race. Last year?s winner Graham Briggs (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) will be there, along with local man Tony Gibb (Plowman Craven-Madison), who has probably racked up more wins on this circuit than anyone.

The big race starts at 1500, with support events for women, youth and lower categories from 10.45. Hillingdon cycle circuit is in Springfield Road, Hayes.


NEW SPONSOR FOR LONDON CLUB

One of the Capital?s biggest clubs, London Dynamo, has announced a new sponsor starting this summer.

Specialist cycling store Prologue Bikes is to become main sponsor for the multi-discipline club based in south-west London. Additional sponsorship comes from For Goodness Shakes, Personal Cycle Coaching and GPM10.

See www.LondonDynamo.co.uk for more details.


GEOFF THOMAS FOUNDATION GETS BOOST FROM FA

England manager Fabio Capello presented a £40,000 cheque to the Geoff Thomas Foundation at last night?s launch of the London-Paris 09 Cycle Tour, held at the Football Association?s headquarters in Soho Square, London.

The GTF, founded by former England and Crystal Palace footballer, Geoff Thomas, is an official FA charity partner for 2009. The £40,000 cheque for the GTF campaign came from this season?s FA Community Shield.

Geoff Thomas said: ?We are extremely grateful to The FA for their generous support for our campaign. We are proud to have the backing of the nation?s football fans and our national game.?

Geoff Thomas


WOMEN’S RACING COMES TO SMITHFIELD

The popular Smithfield Nocturne will now attract some of the UK?s top female cyclists, thanks to the inclusion of a new women?s race at the event on 6th June.

The event, which won a Visit London Sports Tourism Award in 2007, already catered for top male Tour de France riders and Olympians, as well as UK Elites. The addition of the women?s race ensures that the Smithfield Nocturne is appealing to ride for all types of racing cyclist.

“Women?s cycle-racing has really exploded in London in the last few years. More and more of us are getting into the sport, encouraged to participate in sportives, on the track, road racing and more recently through events like Rollapaluza,? said Charlotte Easton, a keen racing cyclist who competed as part of a FACE team last year. ?Three years ago, there might have been ten of us riding round on a Wednesday night. Now events fill up quickly and the level of competition has really improved.?

An already packed race programme meant that a women?s race would be difficult to include in the schedule, but after increasing interest from female cyclists on the event?s Facebook page, the Nocturne Series included the race in recognition of the growing popularity of women?s road racing.

?Organisers are increasingly willing to give us a chance to compete. That?s why it?s so fantastic that a high profile event like the Smithfield Nocturne has chosen to host a women?s race. Many of us local girls are looking forward to racing hard on the same stage as the men rather than cheering from the sidelines. We feel that we?re better off on our bikes than behind the barriers!”

The Women?s Criterium starts at 19:40 and is open to Senior and Junior E/1/2/3 category riders and the entry fee is a discounted amount of £20. Entries will close on Monday 25th May.

For full details of the Nocturne Series and to enter the races please go to www.smithfieldnocturne.com

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