A collection of the best female riders in the country will race to claim the national champions jersey in Stamfordham in Northumberland on Sunday.
The area last hosted a National Championships in 2011, when Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) launched a late attack to claim a solo win.
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Deignan, having zipped up the National champs jersey in 2017 as well, will not be defending her position this year as she awaits the birth of her first child – leaving the title up for grabs.
The women’s circuit this year consists of three laps of a 35.4km course, totalling to 106.2km. The route is far from mountainous, but instead characterised by technical and narrow roads near Couden Hill and Hallingdon.
If there is to be a defining climb, it will be Ryals – a 1.5km ascent with an average gradient of 4.7 per cent and a max of 18.8 per cent.
The women will face the climb with just 10km to go – which means it might prove to be more pivotal than for the men, who will crest the top with still around 30km of flatter riding to the line.
The 103-rider start list is mixture of domestic and pro riders. Deignan herself has already applauded the strength of the field, commenting: “The field for the women’s road race at this year’s championships is really strong though, and whoever takes the jersey will have to put in a fantastic performance to earn it.
“The strength-in-depth in our women’s domestic racing bodes really well for the future, and it’ll be interesting to see who takes my title this weekend.”
As always, anything could happen on race day – but here are the riders we’ll have our eyes on…
Hannah Barnes has already tasted National Championships title success this year – pipping her sister Alice to the top spot by just 17 seconds in the time trial on Thursday.
Triumph in the road race would also be far from unexpected – the Canyon-SRAM rider wore the road race national stripes following a win in Stockton-on-Tees in 2016. She was third in 2017, behind Deignan and Katie Archibald, who was then riding for Team WNT.
Barnes has typically been known for her fast finish, but second place in the ITT in 2017 and her win this year show she’s certainly not adverse to going solo.
Former track rider Dani Rowe (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) has been making steady improvement on the road with each year that it’s been her primary focus.
In 2018, she’s clocked up third overall at the Women’s Tour – as well as, notably – Best British Rider.
Competing for Wales, Rowe also took third at the Commonwealth Games road race in April, charging for the line from a greatly reduce bunch to slot in behind decorated sprinter Chloe Hosking (Australia) and Georgia Williams (New Zealand).
The Tour de Yorkshire’s dual stage race was another useful platform for her to showcase her strength, Rowe built up bonus seconds on the first, sprint finish stage and demonstrated strength on the climbs to hang on to a late break on stage two – resulting in second overall behind American Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) and netting Best British Rider again.
The younger of the Barneses, Alice was under-23 British national champion in 2016, when she provided a launch pad for her sister to sprint for the win, taking second place.
In Lincolnshire’s 2015 race, Barnes once again took second place and first under-23 rider, this time behind Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) and in front of Laura Trott, then riding for Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling.
It was second again for Alice at the time trial on Thursday, though she was just 17 seconds behind her sister and well over a minute up on next placed rider, Neah Evans (Storey Racing).
A string of second places certainly implies that the 22-year-old – who like her sister also rides for Canyon-SRAM this year – has every chance of being in the mix come the final this year.
Storey Racing’s Rebecca Durrell sits in second overall on the National Women’s Series standings, having claimed a win at the Lincoln Grand Prix, attacking for the line from a break of three riders.
Durrell was fourth overall at the more recent Alexander Tour of the Reservoir, and sixth at the women’s Cicle Classic. Not just one for road races, she’s got a good turn of speed in a crit, having won the overall at the 2017 Tour Series and succeeded in a solo breakaway at the Lincoln GP.
Also from Storey Racing is Neah Evans – who took the third spot on the podium at Thursday’s time trial, and again has a convincing kick – which should still be fresh from a silver and bronze in the scratch and points races respectively at April’s Commonwealth Games.
We’ve not heard much from Elinor Barker on the road this year – but the 2017 track points race world champion has added Commonwealth gold to her collection, again in the points race and she’ll forever be an Olympic gold medallist in the team pursuit from 2016.
In last year’s national road race, Barker rolled in just off the podium, in fourth. That year she also won the Irish race Rás na mBan, claiming the Queen of the Mountain overall and winning stages three and four.