British National Championships 2011: The Big Preview

The best of British converge on Northumberland on Sunday for the 2011 national road race championships.

Last year’s winner Geraint Thomas became the first man since Sean Yates in 1992 to wear the white, blue and red jersey in the Tour de France and, with his selection for the grande boucle confirmed, the Welshman will hope to secure the honour for another twelve months.

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Thomas led home a Team Sky one-two-three in last year’s incredibly tough race in Lancashire, but Sunday’s rolling course – which takes in the same roads as the Beaumont Trophy – should contribute to a far more tactical affair.

The outcome could well be similar, as all but one of Sky’s British contingent are riding; Steve Cummings is still on the comeback trail from a bout of pneumonia in the spring, and is not taking part.

You have to fancy their chances with nine riders in the race; only Rapha-Condor-Sharp and Motorpoint can match the number of starters, but they may find the 196.8km too much after focusing on criteriums recently.

Mark Cavendish and Adam Blythe will ride without any team-mates, with Garmin-Cervélo duo Dan Lloyd and double winner Roger Hammond making up the list of WorldTour participants. David Millar decided not to race to cut back on travelling before the Tour de France.


Team Sky dominate in their first nationals

National Championships 2011: Where and when

Sunday June 26

Women’s race: 9am start
Men’s race: 1.30pm start
Start HQ: Stamfordham, Northumberland

National Championships 2011: Thomas’ pride

Geraint Thomas’ time as national champion has seen the Welshman come of age.

He impressed during last year’s Tour, finished 10th in the Tour of Flanders, won his first professional race at the Bayern-Rundfahrt and then helped Bradley Wiggins take the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Unsurprisingly, he has enjoyed his time in the coveted jersey.

“It has been great being the national champion over the last 12 months – it’s like representing Great Britain in every race you are in,” he says.

“It’s definitely been a pretty memorable 12 months and wearing the national champion’s jersey as well has made it even more special.

“You obviously stand out a bit more and it’s similar to wearing the leader’s jersey in a stage race, you just get that lift every day you’ve got it on.”

Geraint Thomas, 10th, Tour of Flanders 2011

With his one-day pedigree confirmed by his showings during the cobbled classics, Thomas is one of the big favourites for the victory.

Responding to that, he said: “I’m obviously going to try my best to win it again but it’s going to be hard as it looks a bit of an easier course than last year so a lot more guys can race it. 

“It’s always a bit different at the nationals – it obviously means a lot to so many people and everyone wants to win it. We’ll just take it as it comes and see what happens but it should be a great day again.”

National Championships 2011: The Course
Totalling 196.8km (122.3 miles), distance is likely to rule several riders out of contention on Sunday.

Upon leaving Stamfordham, situated around 15 miles to the north-west of Newcastle, the race uses the same roads as the Beaumont Trophy, the former Premier Calendar event which was won by Bradley Wiggins in 2009.

It takes in three laps of a larger course that heads anti-clockwise and includes the straight but steep Ryals climbs and then four laps of a finishing circuit.

The women’s race will be run over 64 miles, and consists of one lap of the Ryals circuit before the smaller lap is tackled three times.

National Championships 2011: The favourites
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
Cycling Weekly rating five out of five
The Welshman has the form, the knowledge and the ability to win again. Wants to wear the jersey in the Tour this year too.

Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky)
Cycling Weekly rating five out of five
Kennaugh has finished on the podium in the last three nationals, and has been an under 23 and junior champion before. Bitterly disappointed to finish second in 2010.

Ben Swift (Team Sky)
Cycling Weekly rating four out of five
With speculation mounting about a Tour start, Swift is more than a one-dimensional sprinter. He can climb surprisingly well and has shown this year he knows how to win races.

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
Cycling Weekly rating four out of five
Looking ahead to the race, Wiggins said: “It will be the first time I’ve ridden the nationals with so many guys from the same team as me. “It’s going to be a fun day and obviously the hope is that one of us can manage to win it.

“But in terms of the Tour de France, that’s a really important day out on the bike, less than a week before the first stage over in France.”

Russell Downing (Team Sky)
Cycling Weekly rating three out of five
2005 champion Downing is still recovering from a nasty crash in the final week of the Giro. A master at this level, he could well feature if he’s feeling OK.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)
Cycling Weekly rating three out of five
Speaking at Wednesday’s pre-Tour press conference in London, Cavendish declared that he had no chance of winning the nationals, and he is using the nationals as a good workout before the Tour. Even so, if Sky aren’t able to drop him, he’s the best sprinter in the race.

Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo)
Cycling Weekly rating three out of five
No-one has won a hat-trick of national titles since the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC) and the National Cyclists’ Union (NCU) merged their races in 1959. Can 2003 and 2004 Hammond make history on Sunday?

Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport-Specialized)
Cycling Weekly rating two out of five
Best of the domestic riders in fifth last year, Richardson remains one of the top one-day racers in Britain and is specifically targeting the championships.

Kristian House (Rapha-Condor-Sharp)
Cycling Weekly rating two out of five
Surprised many by winning the title in 2009. Could feature at some point on Sunday.

Dan Lloyd (Garmin-Cervélo)
Cycling Weekly rating two out of five
Twice runner-up, Lloyd may find the opposition too hard to overcome.

Jeremy Hunt (Team Sky)
Cycling Weekly rating two out of five
Best of the rest behind Sky in 2010, Hunt joined the team for this season and gives them another useful option.

Ian Bibby (Motorpoint Pro Cycling)
Cycling Weekly rating one out of five
Premier Calendar leader Bibby won the Tour of the Reservoir last weekend so has the form.

Andy Fenn (AnPost-Sean Kelly)
Cycling Weekly rating one out of five
Eighth in 2010 and a former under 23 champion.

Dave Clarke (Endura Racing)
Cycling Weekly rating one out of five
Clarke is a engine who should be suited to the course.

Dan Fleeman (Raleigh)
Cycling Weekly rating one out of five
An under 23 national champion, Fleeman is aiming for a top ten but raced in Canada last week.

Rob Partridge (Endura Racing)
Cycling Weekly rating one out of five
Performed well during the Tour Series, can Partridge transfer that form to a five-hour race?

Ian Stannard (Team Sky)
Cycling Weekly rating one out of five
Hard-working Stannard took third in 2010 having worked hard for Thomas.

Luke Rowe (100% ME – British Cycling Academy team)

Cycling Weekly rating one out of five
Promising academy talent will be hopeful of impressing the top teams.

National Championships 2011: Recent winners
2010: Geraint Thomas

2009: Kristian House
2008: Rob Hayles

2007: David Millar
2006: Hamish Haynes

2005: Russell Downing

2004: Roger Hammond

2003: Roger Hammond

2002: Julian Winn

2001: Jeremy Hunt

National Championships 2011: TV Coverage

ITV4 will be showing highlights of the race at 5pm on Saturday July 2, immediately following their live coverage of the Tour de France’s opening stage.

The broadcast will be made available on their on-demand service, ITV Player, shortly after.

National Championships 2011: Leazes Criterium
Kicking off the action on the Northern Rock-sponsored Cyclone weekend is the hour-long Leazes Criterium, being held in Leazes Park (next to the St James’ Park football stadium) on Friday, June 24.

Mark Cavendish was the first WorldTour rider to sign up for the race, and was followed this week by Roger Hammond, Alex Dowsett and Adam Blythe.

The racing begins at 6.15pm with Go Ride Youth races, and the Elite action kicks off at 8pm, although poor weather will see that brought forward to 7.45pm.

National Championships 2011: Women’s race
Having broken her collarbone in April, Emma Pooley‘s fitness appears to be good going into Sunday’s race, which gets the day’s action underway at 9am.

She showed that improving form at the recent Emakumeen Bira last, winning the stage three time-trial and finishing fourth overall.

Emotional after last year’s victory – Pooley’s first national road race title, which also ended Nicole Cooke‘s run of consecutive victories – Pooley is playing down her chances of victory.

“It’s been an honour and something I’ve been very pleased to ride with it for a year. However, I’m not sure if I’m able to defend it.

“My goal is the Giro (Donne, which starts on July 1). I’m not going to train specifically for the nationals,” added the Garmin-Cervélo rider.

emma pooley, gp plouay

Pooley wins in the GP Plouay in the national colours

MCipollini-Giambenini rider Cooke is riding without any support, and

last year refused to shake hands with Pooley and made collusion claims

about her and her team-mates.

Notably, Lizzie Armitstead, Lucy Martin and Sharon Laws will ride

alongside Pooley on Sunday; although Armitstead could be thrust into the position

of leader if her Garmin colleague stays true to her Giro goal.

Horizon Fitness RT have a healthy compliment of eight riders competing,

including Dani King, Helen Wyman, Sarah Storey and Jo Rowsell.


Trott sisters are on the startlist, as are Hannah Mayho (100% ME), Katie

Colclough (HTC-Highroad) and Natalie Creswick (Abus-Nutrixxion).

National Championships 2011: Recent winners

2010 Emma Pooley
2009 Nicole Cooke

2008 Nicole Cooke

2007 Nicole Cooke

2006 Nicole Cooke

2005 Nicole Cooke

2004 Nicole Cooke

2003 Nicole Cooke

2002 Nicole Cooke

2001 Nicole Cooke

National Championships 2011: Related links

Thomas and Sky gear up for national championships

Cav confirmed for nationals and Leazes Crit

2010 report: Thomas edges out Kennaugh as Sky take 1-2-3 at nationals

2010 report: Pooley beats Cooke for national championships win

Archive: British national road race championships: roll of honour

National Championships 2011: External link

Northern Rock Cyclone Weekend: Official Website