By Nick Bull
Britain's cycling stars of the future will compete to become the 2011 National Junior Road Race Champion in County Durham on Sunday, and in doing so add their name to an impressive list of former winners.
Previous champions include Peter Kennaugh (2007) and Steve Cummings (1999), who went on to join Team Sky, as well as Dan Martin (now Garmin-Cervélo), Matt Brammeier (HTC-Highroad), Yanto Barker (Pendragon-Le-Col-Colnago) and Russell Hampton (Sigma Sport-Specialized).
However winning is not all important, as Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Graham Briggs and Jonny McEvoy - all previous podium finishers at best - have proved.
National Junior Road Race Championships 2011: The route
This year's race, totaling 133km (82.5m) is being held on two rolling circuits around Barnard Castle, not far south of where this year's men's and women's Nationals took place.
The 86 starters will take in three laps of a rolling 27km loop around the Bowes Museum, before tackling a flatter and shorter (13km) finishing circuit four times.
National Junior Road Race Championships 2011: The favourites
Second in 2010 to Dan McLay, Owain Doull (Hargroves Cycles-Specialized) possesses the sprint and the know-how to take the title. The starting circuit shouldn't prove to difficult for him, and will want to go one better than last year's result.
Doull's fellow Olympic Development Plan (ODP) riders - Jon Dibben (Hargroves Cycles-Specialized), Sam Lowe (Raleigh Racing Team), Chris Latham (Planet X), Harry Tanfield and Matthew Holmes (both Teamwallis CHH Racing Team) - are all potential winners too.
Dibben currently lies second in the National Junior Road Series after five rounds and finished a fine fourth in the junior Paris-Roubaix this April.
Sam Lowe has ridden consistently in 2011, posting top 20 finishes in the Isle of Man Youth Tour and the Roy Thame Cup, as well as a second in the Deinze-Vinkt Omloop in Belgium in May.
Luke Grivell-Mellor (Mid Shropshire Wheelers) has finished third in the junior National 25 and Cyclo Cross championships this year, and the course could suit an all-rounder of his abilities.
Doull, Slater and Dibben after a successful Isle of Man Tour
Dibben's Hargroves team-mate Alistair Slater currently leads the National Junior Road Series and won the Isle of Man Youth tour earlier in the year, and must go into the event as one of the big favourites.
Alex Peters (CC Hackney), Dante Carpenter (Asfra Racing) and 2011 Bristol Junior Tour stage winner Oliver Rossi (PCA Ciclos Unos) are also likely to be in contention for the win.
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