The absence of overall leader Ian Field will give his British Cycling National Trophy Cyclo-cross rivals a chance to gain ground as the series reaches round three in Durham on 16 November.
Meanwhile the three-way battle for supremacy at the top of the elite women’s standings is set to continue on Sunday, with Adela Carter, Merce Pacios Pujado and Amira Mellor tied at the top of the table.
Field has enjoyed a perfect start to his season with a maximum 100 points from two outings in Shrewsbury and Southampton and leads Hargroves Cycles – Ridley RT teammate Jody Crawforth by 30 points.
Behind the Hargroves domination continues, Steve James and Tom Van Den Bosch are locking out the top four places.
A win for Crawforth or James could see either rider top the standings at the halfway point in the season, but with only the best five results counting, a rider of Field’s calibre can afford to skip a round and keep his title bid very much intact.
Once again absent from the start list is 2013/14 series champion Paul Oldham. Currently lying in 18th overall, Oldham was an uncharacteristic seventh in the opening round, recovering from a pre-season injury, only to miss round two in Southampton after suffering a knee injury in the Rapha Supercross.
The Hope Factory Racing rider’s ill luck will also mean that Oldham is likely to miss round four in Milton Keynes on 30 November, which also hosts a round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup on the preceding day.
Oldham’s teammate Jack Clarkson will hope to keep the pressure on under-23 series leader Ben Sumner, the Beeline Bicycles RT rider on 66 points to Clarkson’s 64.
The action couldn’t be tighter in the elite women’s standings, with Adela Carter, Merce Pacios Pujado and Amira Mellor all tying on 60 points.
Carter heads the table thanks to her win in Southampton, backing up a sixth place in the opening round, while Pujado’s consistency has landed her second place ahead of junior Mellor, who has two third places to her name so far.
However, all may yield to round one winner Annie Simpson of Hope Factory Racing, who was forced to abandon in Southampton due to fatigue after racing the Rapha Supercross on the preceding day.
Alfie Moses will hope to keep his 100-percent winning record intact in Durham, the Paul Milnes Cycles/Bradford Olympic RC rider on 80 points, 20 ahead of Team Corley Cycles’ David Barnes, who ties on points with Sherwood Pines Cycles/SRAM RT’s Josh Waters.
Sunday’s event will be only the second time Durham’s University Cricket Club has played host to a round of the National Trophy, the venue hosting its inaugural event in November 2013.
But a year is a long time in sport; twelve months ago Paul Oldham took his third win out of three in the elite men’s race, while Hannah Payton, now on international duties, took her first win of the season on her way to overall series glory.
Racing begins at 10:15am with the veteran men with the elite and under-23 men rounding out the schedule at 2:45pm. Reports, results, images and reaction from all categories will appear on the British Cycling website.