The north east will once again play host to some of the country’s best riders this weekend, with round 6 of the women’s HSBC UK | National Road Series and round 7 of the men’s HSBC UK | National Road Series both taking place at the Stockton Grand Prix.
On the women’s side, series leader Rebecca Durrell (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm) will look to extend her lead at the top of the standings, while third-placed Elizabeth Bennett (Campinense – Velo Performance) is likely to go into the race full of confidence following her victory in the Curlew Cup (round 5) last week.
Leah Dixon, also of Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm, currently sits second in the overall standings, with Jennifer Powell (Bianchi Dama) in fifth. Anna Henderson (Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm) – who claimed victory in last year’s HSBC UK | National Circuit Championships in Stockton – will also take to the start line.
The men’s race will feature series leader Matt Holmes, who leads a Madison Genesis team which also includes Tom Moses, Jon Dibben and Jonny McEvoy.
Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes) will be hoping to continue his surge up the leaderboard following victory in the Beaumont Trophy (round 6) last week, while James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) – who sits second in the overall standings – will be out to overhaul Holmes as the series nears its climax.
Other riders include Andy Tennant (Canyon dhb P / B Bloor Homes), John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling) and Gabriel Cullaigh (Team Wiggins Le Col).
The event – part of the popular Stockton Cycling Festival – has a proud history, having hosted the national championships as recently as 2016.
After being crowned national circuit champion on the streets of Stockton town centre on the previous Friday evening, Matt Gibson rounded off a memorable weekend in the north-east by taking Grand Prix victory last year.
Earned as he again showed his prowess in a bunch sprint, the victory was also Gibson’s second road series win in a row, after he had been victorious at Bristol the previous weekend.
It was another recently-crowned national champion who took the women’s title last year. Jess Roberts – who had won the women’s race at the HSBC UK | National Road Championships a matter of days beforehand – surged clear of the bunch in a way befitting of the national champion’s jersey.
The men’s race in 2017 produced a fantastic finale, with the race coming back together in the closing stages to ensure a furious bunch sprint to the line. It took a photo finish to determine the winner, with Brenton Jones given the nod over Chris Latham.
National champion’s jerseys were on the line at the 2016 edition of the event, after Stockton was awarded the right to host the National Road Championships.
Adam Blythe and Hannah Barnes left with the honours – and the national champion’s jerseys – for the first time in either of their distinguished careers.
Blythe held off a sprint challenge from former world champion Mark Cavendish, while Barnes led a 1-2 family finish, with sister Alice taking second, and the under-23 title.