Preview: Lancaster Grand Prix

Preview: Lancaster Grand Prix

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The National Road Series continues this Sunday in Lancaster, with series leaders Alice McWilliam (Bianchi HUNT Morvélo) and Jim Brown (WiV SunGod) both starting among quality fields.

Starting and finishing by the iconic Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, the Lancaster Grand Prix marks the halfway point of the National Road Series, forming Round 4 of the women’s series, and round 3 of the men’s series. 

This is the third edition of the race, and the first to include a women's race alongside a men's race. It was created in 2019, with organisers Brian Cookson and Graham Jones (chairman of the Lune RCC) hoping to make a name for the race as a British equivalent of an Ardennes classic. With a spectator-friendly start/finish area in Williamson Park and a lumpy profile, well-suited to the domestic peloton's puncheurs, it has become a firm favourite on the domestic calendar.

The first race was won by Ian Bibby of Madison Genesis. After a pandemic-induced hiatus in 2020, the race returned last season with a surprise winner, Josh Whitehead, who was then a relatively unknown elite-level rider racing for Team PB Performance.

The race features the same punchy, selective course that was used for the 2021 edition. The riders will tackle a challenging 14.8 km main circuit, with the women’s race taking in six tours of the circuit, and the men's race 10. In total, the women's race is 92 kilometres long, while the men cover 152 kilometres. And with 273m of elevation per lap – including three sharp climbs - the race promises to be a selective affair.

Alice McWilliam, Lincoln Grand Prix, 2022 National Road Series

On the final lap, the course heads back to Williamson Park for the final kilometre back to the finish line. Here, the riders are treated to a final sting in the tail. Between 600m and 500m to go, the gradient reaches double digits again before a technical, slightly uphill, final 500m. If a small group reaches this finale together, canny positioning will be as important as finding enough reserves of strength in the legs to power home to the win.

Both the women’s and men's races feature strong fields. In the women’s race, CAMS-Basso’s squad includes Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix winner Jess Finney, as well as Danni Shrosbree, both of whom could find this course to their liking. National circuit race champion Josie Nelson (Team Coop-Hitec Products), is an obvious threat, as is current National Road Series leader McWilliam.

Other riders on the startlist suited to punchy courses like this include Lucy Ellmore (Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes by Heidi Kjeldsen), Connie Hayes (AWOL O'Shea), Mary Wilkinson (Team Boompods), Jessie Carridge (Brother UK-Orientation Marketing) and Torelli-Cayman-Islands-Scimitar pair Nicole Coates and Olivia Bentley. The junior rider Emma Jeffers – one of the breakthrough riders of 2022 – also starts and it will be interesting to see how she fairs on hillier terrain after her sprint success at the Barnsley Town Centre Races.

In the men’s race, WiV SunGod arrive with an embarrassment of riches. The team’s line-up includes 2021 National Road Series winner Jake Scott, former WorldTour pro Ben Perry as well as Jim Brown and Rob Scott, who have both won UCI road races this year. That's even before you get to last year’s race winner Josh Whitehead.

Josh Whitehead, Lancaster Grand Prix, National Road Series

Saint Piran's new signings Alex Richardson and Adam Lewis add a frisson of excitement and intrigue to race proceedings, especially after Richardson’s success on his team debut last weekend at the GP Nogent-sur-Oise. Leon Mazzone is another option for the team.

Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling have been affected by illness and injury of late, but Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic winner Finn Crockett looks back on form now. Stuart Balfour also starts and could go well if he is close to top form. Team Inspired pair Bob Donaldson and Harry Birchill both have the characteristics to contend on this course, as does TRINITY Racing’s Max Walker.

Outsiders? George Wood (Cycling Sheffield), Joe Wilson (Dolan Ellesse Race Team), James Jenkins (Richardsons Trek DAS), George Peden (Team PB Performance) and Ben Granger (Zappi Racing Team) are among those with the potential to spring a surprise.

The women’s race begins at 9.00 and finishes around 11.45, while the men start at 14.00 and are estimated to finish at 17.45. You can follow the action on the British Cycling social media channels, and watch the race live on the Lancaster Grand Prix's channels here.

For more a more in-depth preview of the race, as well as the latest start lists, head to The British Continental.


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