The Pearl Izumi Tour Series returns to Britain’s town and city centres for an eighth successive year and promises five weeks of high-octane racing.
First run in 2009, the series has proved popular wherever it visits and this year there are 10 different locations, six of which host the Women’s Matrix Fitness GP.
What is it?
Coming just before the final round of the Motorpoint Spring Cup and ending a few weeks before the June National Championships in Stockton-on-Tees, the Tour Series refocuses the domestic riders’ priority from road racing to circuit racing.
Because of ITV4’s coverage and the associated sponsor exposure to the consumer, teams place an awful lot of emphasis on doing well in the Tour Series. As a result, teams recruit riders specifically for the series.
From this year, there is a qualification process for Britain’s Continental teams to race in the Tour of Britain. Nine events, including the Tour Series, count towards qualification on a 3-2-1 points scoring basis; the Motorpoint Spring Cup and Motorpoint GP Series are scored on a 6-4-2 count.
With Wiggins already securing their spot by virtue of having the highest-placed rider in the 2015 event (Owain Doull, third), the five other teams are battling it out for the three remaining spots.
There are nine teams competing in each round of the series, including Britain’s six Continental teams: NFTO, Wiggins, JLT-Condor, Madison-Genesis, Raleigh-GAC and Pedal Heaven. The teams will field five riders in each race.
Guest teams will make up the other three teams in each race. In the northern races, these will be three of: Planet X Northside, Wheelbase Altura MGD, VCUK PH-Mas and Scotland. In the southern races, these will be three of: Nuun Sigma Sport, Catford CC-Equipe/Banks, Richardsons-Trek and HR Owen Maserati.
In the Matrix Fitness GP Women’s Series, there are 11 teams riding: Aprire HSS Hire, Drops Racing Team, Boot Out Breast Cancer, Podium Ambition pb Club La Santa, Sunsport Velo, Team Breeze, Team Footon Velosport, Team Ford EcoBoost, Team Jadan Weldtite, Team WNT and Velo Schils Interbike.
How do you win it?
Lasting for 60 minutes plus five additional laps, the Tour Series is a team-based format, with the winner on the night being the team whose five riders cross the finish line in the lowest cumulative time.
The team with the quickest joint time earns 10 points for victory with the team in second and third earning nine and eight points respectively, and so on until the ninth-best placed team.
The individual winner scores points towards the points classification which also takes into account the intermediate sprints in the races, where the first five riders earn points on a 5-4-3-2-1 formula.
The Matrix Fitness GP Series is ran in the same way but 45 minute races, with this year’s six rounds all contributing towards the final standings.
Who won last year?
Madison-Genesis won five races in 2015 and were the most consistent team, securing them the team classification.
Including the team time trial victory in Ryde which preceded the opening round and their hill-climb success in Aberystwyth, One Pro Cycling won seven races last year but Madison pipped them in the final round in Bath, overhauling them to become champions. Pedal Heaven finished third.
JLT-Condor, who will once again be one of the strongest teams competing, have won the series twice, making them the most prolific team in the event’s history.
In the Matrix Fitness GP Series, Dame Sarah Storey’s team Podium Ambition pb Club La Santa have won the event in the last two years in different team guises, while Nikki Juniper added individual victory in the GP races to her National Women’s Road Series success.
Round dates (inc. TV times)
There will be an hour-long highlights package of each round on ITV4 in the evenings after the race; times in brackets
May 12 – Ramsey, Isle of Man; including team time trial (TV: May 16, 7-8pm) – report (won by JLT-Condor and Chris Lawless)
May 17 – Motherwell* (TV: May 18, 7-8pm) – report (won by JLT-Condor and Jon Mould)
May 19 – Edinburgh (TV: May 20, 7-8pm)
May 26 – Redditch* (TV: May 28, 9-10pm)
May 27 – Aberystwyth (TV: May 30, 10-11pm)
May 31 – Durham (TV: June 1, 10-11pm)
June 2 – Stoke-on-Trent* (TV: June 3, 10-11pm)
June 6 – Stevenage* (TV: June 7, 8-9pm)
June 7 – Croydon* (TV: June 8, 8-9pm)
June 9 – Portsmouth* (TV: June 10, 8-9pm)
* includes a round of the Women’s Matrix Fitness GP Series
How can I watch it?
ITV4 will also repeat their highlights in the days after and they will be available on ITV Player for 30 days after the first screening.
Due to the small size of the circuits, you can watch the racing live all around the perimeter of the route. As with all sporting events, it is advised to get there around 30 minutes before the racing starts to secure the best spots.