And so it begins. Traditionally regarded as the season opener in Britain, the Perfs Pedal race on Sunday will once again act as the curtain-raiser for what looks set to be an action-packed domestic calendar.

A relatively short race at 70 kilometres (43 miles), it may well suit those who have winter circuit race experience, fresh (or not, as the case may be) in their legs.

Last year?s winner James Stewart, now in Kinesis colours, will face some stiff opposition from the likes of David Clarke (Pendragon), Warrick Spence (Cyclefit RT), Marcin Bialoblocki (Sports-Beans Willier) and Alex Higham (Wyndymilla).

Sigma Sport’s Jerone Walters and team-mate Steve Golla have both been riding well at the Imperial Winter Series at Hillingdon and should make an impact on Sunday.

?It?s a very open field,? said Waite. ?But it?s very different to circuit racing. People come out of the winter completely different riders. With the credit crunch, many of the riders may have lost their jobs and would have the time for a lot more training. It?s very difficult to place a winner this year?.

One rider certainly causing a stir is Flavio Zappi (Oxford University CC), a former Italian professional, who has made a return to competitive cycling after a lay-off of more than 20 years.

?It?s my first proper road race,? said the Italian. ?I?ve got so much energy to race. I?m feeling fit and riding at Hog Hill [over the winter] should give me some good form.

?Circuit racing is totally different [though]. I?m not feeling nervous, I?m looking forward to it. We?ve got a young team who?ve done a lot of work over the winter. I?m hoping for a hard race and am interested to see how far I can go with my performance after 25 years.

?It?s not been easy at all because I?ve been out of it for so long, and until recently I was just a normal person doing a 9-5.?

Waite was keen to stress that racing at Hog Hill is a completely different environment to the hell for leather of road racing. ?Everyone wants to win it and it?s a very tough race. It?ll be more of a gauge for Zappi than circuit racing?.

Perfs Pedal Race, Sunday February 8. Rowlands Castle, Hampshire. Circuit distance: 10km. Total distance: 70km.

Click here to access the full 2009 domestic race calendar

START LIST:
1. James STEWART Kinesis KUK
2. Rob FLETCHER Anders Electronic/TMG Horizon
3. Martin SMITH Army Cycling Union
4. Sam ALLEN awcycles.co.uk
5. Simon ERNEST awcycles.co.uk
6. Tom SMITH awcycles.co.uk
7. John WHITTINGTON Bristol Cycling Development Group
8. Grant GRANT BC Private Member
9. Ben ANSTIE Chippenham & District Wheelers CC
10. Stephen ONGLEY Chippenham & District Wheelers CC
11. Simon SNOWDEN Chippenham & District Wheelers CC
12. Alistair CARR COC Fougeres
13. Perry BOWATER CC Giro
14. Warrick SPENCE Cyclefit RT
15. Julian BRAY Dulwich Paragon
16. Philip JONES Dulwich Paragon
17. Kevin KNOX Dulwich Paragon
18. Matthew ULLMER Evesham & District Wheelers CC
19. Warren JESSE Felt Racing
20. John WAGER Felt Racing

21. Andrew BRIGGS Fit-For/Cycles Dauphin
22. John HEATON-ARMSTRONG Fit-For/Cycles Dauphin
23. Michael KINGAN Fit-For/Cycles Dauphin
24. Richard MASON Fit-For/Cycles Dauphin
25. Alex MURISON Glendene CC/biketrax
26. David SINCLAIR GWR Team/Giant
27. Peter DIBBEN Hargroves
28. Doug BALDOCK In-Gear Development Squad
29. Adam COTTERELL In-Gear Development Squad
30. Joshua CUNNINGHAM In-Gear Development Squad
31. Jaco EHLERS In-Gear Development Squad
32. Alec LESLIE John?s Bikes
33. Cam AUSTIN London Dynamo/Cyclefit
34. Joe HEMMANT London Dynamo/Cyclefit
35. Tom HEMMANT London Dynamo/Cyclefit
36. Richard HOULT London Dynamo/Cyclefit
37. Gavin RYAN London Dynamo/Cyclefit
38. Tom STOCKDALE MJS Racing
39. Geoffrey LULHAM Mule Bar
40. Steve CALLAND Norwood Paragon

41. Anton BLACKIE Oxford University
42. Henry MARTIN Oxford University
43. Samuel PARKER Oxford University
44. Flavio ZAPPI Oxford University
45. Jack ADAMS Pendragon?KALAS
46. David CLARKE Pendragon?KALAS
47. Douglas DEWEY Pendragon?KALAS
48. Matt EWINGS Pendragon?KALAS
49. John NYE Pendragon?KALAS
50. George RICHARDSON Pendragon?KALAS
51. Andrew MAGNIER Planet X
52. James LEWIS Port Talbot Wheelers
53. Ben STOCKDALE Qoroz Novatec
54. Josh YETMAN Qoroz Novatec
55. Jake MARTIN Rapha Condor
56. Stuart BOWERS Scott UK
57. Steve GOLLA Sigma Sport
58. Jerone WALTERS Sigma Sport
59. Toby NEAVE Southdown Velo
60. Marcin BIALOBLOCKI Sports Beans-Willier

61. Chris McNAMARA Team Corley
62. Felix ENGLISH Team
63. Martin DAWKINS Team Quest
64. Harry BULSTRODE Thames Velo
65. Chris OPIE UW+TC de Volharding
66. Dave CREGGAN VC Meudon
67. Keith JARRETT VC
68. Peter WAGER VC Meudon
69. Richard COOK Velo Club Montpellier
70. Simon BROOKS VC St Raphaël
71. Rowan HORNER VC St Raphaël
72. Colin PARRY VC St Raphaël
73. Jason STREATHER VC St Raphaël
74. Phill SYKES VC St Raphaël
75. Jason EDWARDS Wildside 707 RT
76. Simon McNAMARA Wildside 707 RT
77. Roger SMITH Wildside 707 RT
78. Mark SUSSEX Wildside 707 RT
79. Henry FURNISS Wyndymilla
80. Alex HIGHAM Wyndymilla