Defending champion Michael Hutchinson is the overwhelming favourite for the 25-mile national time trial championships in Attleborough, Norfolk, this Sunday. After resounding wins at the recent Ogmore Valley Wheelers 25 – where he clocked 46.29 minutes – and the national 10-mile champs it’s hard to see who can beat him.
Hutchinson commented: “Everything?s going all right, my form has been okay. I?ve had quite a good spring, I haven?t had any illnesses or injuries, which means you can get all the training done. If, like me, you don?t ride full-time anymore, every session you do has to count.”
Hutchinson was also pleased by the proximity of this year?s course ? a predominantly flat route on the A11 – to his Cambridge home. “It?s just an hour up the road, so it?s nice to stay at home the night before. I don?t know if it makes you go any faster, but it makes life a little easier.”
However, he criticised the inconsistency in conditions that comes from spreading riders’ start times out over a whole day. “The first priority has to be giving everybody an equal chance to do a good ride. By the time I?m racing, there?ll be a fair bit of traffic – the course is going to be a minute and a half quicker [for me] than when the first guys are off.”
The first man off on Sunday is Robert Hogarth at 8.01am, two and a half hours before Hutchinson.
Other contenders include 2008 bronze and silver medallists Ben Instone (www.scientific-coaching.com) and Charles McCulloch (Shorter Rochford RT). Instone has been in excellent form this year, smashing six consecutive course records this spring.
Meanwhile, veteran McCulloch seems to be improving with age; he recently won the VTTA Manchester & North West 50 by over six minutes. Hutchinson earmarked him as a man to watch, as McCulloch appears to have recovered from an illness that slowed him down in the national 10.
Hutchinson also highlighted Olympic medallist Chris Newton (Rapha-Condor), making a rare foray in time-trialling, as a potential threat. After getting ill in the Rás, the 1999 ?25? champion is riding back into form. Regular top-five national finisher Matt Bottrill (Team I-Ride) and comeback man Stuart Dangerfield (Shorter Rochford RT) are other candidates for the podium.
National ?10? runner-up Andrew Tennant (Halfords-Bikehut) could also perform well. The former junior world pursuit champion and ODP rider has enjoyed some fine performances on the road this year, including his first Premier Calendar victory at the Tour of the Reservoir, as well as second overall in the Girvan. However, tired legs from the previous evening?s Smithfield Nocturne may hamper his challenge.
In the absence of last year?s winner Sharon Laws, it will take a strong ride to dethrone recently-crowned national ?10? champion Julia Shaw (Utag Yamaha.com) in the women?s event. The 43 year-old recently finished best women at the Ogmore Wheelers event, recording a time of 54.22.
Lynne Taylor (Walsall Road CC), second on that day, is expected to challenge, alongside reigning BBAR Lynn Hamel (Team NCA) and Paralympic gold medallist Sarah Storey (VC St Raphael).
Meanwhile, in the junior championship, Glendene CC pair Tom Yeatman and Joe Perrett are favourites. British junior champ Perrett?s winning time in the recent national 10 would have been fast enough to place him eighth in the elite men?s competition.
Last year?s top 10
1. Michael Hutchinson (In-Gear Quickvit RT) 50m 49s
2. Charles McCulloch (Shorter Rochford RT) 51.50
3. Ben Instone (www.scientific-coaching.com) 52.05
4. Phil Sykes (VC St Raphael) 52.47
5. John Tuckett (awcycles.co.uk) 53.39
6. Craig Simpson (Blue Sky Cycles) 54.00
7. Mark Holton (Probikekit.com) 54.00
8. Sean Childs (Royal Navy and Marines CA) 54.05
9. Richard Simmonds (London Dynamo-Cyclefit) 54.13
10. Richard Bradley (Shorter Rochford RT) 54.21
Hutchinson wins national 10 time trial