Roger Hammond will show off his T-Mobile jersey for the first time on Sunday as he defends his national cyclo-cross title in Southampton, the venue where he won his first Elite title 12 year ago.
Hammond has been mixing his road training with cyclo-cross racing in Belgium in the last few weeks but knows he will again face tough competition from the ever-improving Liam Killen.
?I?m going well, I have trained harder than last year and I?m looking forward to Sunday,? Hammond said on the T-Mobile team web site.
?In Diegem and Overijse I punctured at critical moments, and that left me no chance of getting back into contention, but in Middelkerke and Wachtebeke I had better placings than last year. Overall, I was pleased with how I went in Belgium.?
Hammond knows the expected rain could be a key factor in deciding the race.
?The weather will play a big part. In cyclo-cross you need to be lucky on the day and avoid mechanicals. If it is wet then I expect a real battle of attrition. I will be relying on my endurance and playing it safe. In cyclo-cross, there?s always technical corners where if you’re prepared to take risks you gain 5 or 6 seconds. That really adds up if your consider that you are racing 9 or 10 laps of circuit. But it has its risks!?
?Liam Kileen will probably be my biggest rival. He?s really strong and pushed me very close last year. Dave Collins also scored a top ten placing in Belgium recently, so he?s sure to be in good shape. It will be a tough race.?
After defending his championship on Sunday, Hammond travels to the T-Mobile Team’s annual training camp on Majorca to continue his build-up to the road season which starts for him at Etoile des Besseges in France on February 7.
WYMAN IS WOMEN?S BIG FAVOURITE
Helen Wyman is the clear favourite for the women?s race after another successful cross season in Europe. Perhaps only former champion Louise Robinson and Amy Hunt can challenge, with Gabriella Day an outsider.
Ian Field is the favourite for the Under 2 title but is so talented he could also do well in the Elite race. Other names to watch for are Jody Crawforth, Dave Collins and Rob Jebb. The vets title is expected to be a battle between two former greats of British racing: Adrian Timmis and Chris Young, while David Fletcher, Alex Paton and Jonathan McEvoy will fight all the way for the junior men?s title.
There will be a full coverage from the championships on www.cyclingweekly.com during the weekend.
Saturday 6 January
11:30 Veteran (50+)
14:00 Veteran 40-49
Sunday 7 January
12:30 Junior Men
14:15 Senior & Under-23 Men
Southampton Sports Centre Thornhill Road SOUTHAMPTON, SO16 7AY.