Stamfordham in Northumberland will play host to a whole host of top British names this Sunday as the 2018 British Road National Championships take centre stage.
The last time the area played host to the nationals, Sir Bradley Wiggins took home the men’s crown whilst Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) won in the women’s event.
In the picturesque countryside of Northumberland the 185km route should not disappoint as locals will get a chance to see some top British names in action. Ryals climb is the standout feature of the race, and with the narrow roads leading into the climb it’s going to be a case of making sure the riders are in the right position heading into the climb.
With the Nationals being closely followed by the Tour de France this year, for some riders it’s another chance to hone their form heading into the Grand Boucle. For everyone though, it’s a chance to look forward to the prospect of a year wearing their national colours in every race.
With a packed weekend of racing ahead, here are five of the male riders you should look out for on Sunday.
Tao Geoghegan Hart
The 23-year-old Brit has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Team Sky where he has consistently performed over the past few months. He was part of Sky’s winning Critérium du Dauphiné squad where Geraint Thomas took home the overall victory.
In the same race he also finished just outside the podium places in the young rider’s classification. With the individual time trial kicking off the weekend on Thursday, Geoghegan Hart warmed up for the road race by finishing in sixth place.
As for Sunday, it’s just another chance for Hart to continue his steady progress as he looks to cause an upset in Northumberland.
After beating Mark Cavendish in a sprint to take the national title in 2016, Adam Blythe was unable to top that with a win in national colours. Despite leaving the disbanded Tinkoff to join Aqua Blue Sport in 2017, Blythe had a frustrating time in 2017, but has begun to look back to winning ways in mid-2018.
The Yorkshireman took his first victory for some time at the Belgian race Elfstedenronde in June, and will hope that could be a precursor to a second national title on the road. The flattish course should suit him, but he’ll face some tough opposition if it all comes down to a bunch sprint.
Cavendish has had another dreadful season of crashes and bad luck. In the early part of the season he crashed out of the Abu Dhabi Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and suffered a nasty crash involving a bollard at Milan-San Remo which has hindered his form.
Since those early season disappointments Cavendish has competed at the Tour of Slovenia and more recently at the Tour of Yorkshire, but with no standout results.
Having won the Nationals in 2013, the 33-year-old will want some success before heading to the Tour. If it comes down to a bunch sprint on Sunday, despite his stop-start season – don’t bet against Cavendish producing the goods.
The Bora-Hansgrohe rider will be wanting to put a miserable first-half of the season behind him. After stagnating at Sky, Kennaugh left for pastures new in the hope it would revitalise his career.
But the move to Bora has yet to resemble anything of a successful move. Earlier this season the 29-year-old put his absence from racing down to ‘lack of motivation’.
More recently the Isle of Man native took part in the Dauphiné but abandoned before the final stage. And with Bora having announced their Tour squad, Kennaugh is nowhere to be seen.
It’s certainly a wildcard, but with Kennaugh having nothing to lose and needing some inspiration from somewhere the 2014 winner might look to surprise a few this Sunday.
For Swift, the nationals is a chance to find some form ahead of the Tour. With UAE-Team Emirates yet to decide on their Tour squad a good performance in Stamfordham for the 30-year-old will give him a shot of being selected. His best placing at a nationals was in 2014 where he was second behind eventual winner Kennaugh. A win on Sunday would breed some much-needed confidence into a rider who has lacked it so far this season.
You can follow all the action of the men’s road race live on British Cycling’s Facebook page from 11am on Sunday.