The British racing scene steps up another gear on Saturday with the 47th edition of the GP Eddie Soens Memorial race in Liverpool.
Plowman Craven have sent a strong squad north for the traditional early-season handicap race and are hoping sprinter Tony Gibb can take a record breaking fourth win but will face serious competition from the Rapha-Condor-Recycling.co.uk squad.
Rapha team leader Chris Newton will not ride because he is training with Great Britain in Majorca for the track world championships but the team?s directeur sportif John Herety has made it clear his riders will do everything they can to attack in the final laps and so derail Plowman Craven?s powerful leadout train.
?We had a good weekend in the Clayton Velo race but Plowman Craven are the favourites for the Eddie Soens because they can give Gibb such a good lead out,? Herety admitted.
?We?ll be trying to make sure the race doesn?t end in a sprint by riding offensively in the finale.?
The bad weather is forecast to clear before the Saturday morning race but strong winds are expected to blow across the exposed Aintree course.
Other strong teams on the start list include the Sigmasport team lead by Matt Stephens, Pearl Izumi-Planet X. Tom Southam will also make his British comeback for Halfords-Bikehut in the race after returning from Australia.
As tradition, the handicap race will see the Juniors, women and fourth cat riders given a three minute advantage on the Elite and first cat riders, with third cats given a minute and second cats at 1-30. The expected 150 riders have to cover 30 laps of the 1.64 mile circuit for a total of 49.2 miles. The winner picks up a cheque of 125 pounds and the bragging rights for the rest of the season.
There will be a race report here on cyclingweekly.co.uk on Saturday afternoon, with major coverage in next week?s Cycling Weekly.