The domestic peloton puts on its stage racing legs this weekend for the Manx Telecom International stage race. The three-day four-stage event forms Round 5 of the Women’s National Road Series and Round 4 of the Men’s National Road Series.
Running from Friday 22 July to Sunday 24 July, this year’s race is the fourth edition of a revived classic. The race was a firm fixture of the British road racing calendar until 2003, with its first edition in 1936 including Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Tom Simpson, and Eddy Merckx.
The race was rebooted in 2016, and makes a welcome return after the pandemic, with the addition of a women’s race for the first time.
The men’s and women’s races both have compact, quality fields featuring a mixture of the top domestic teams and riders, together with some local favourites such as Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix winner Becky Storrie, national circuit series champion Matt Bostock, and last season’s Junior Tour of Wales victor Tyler Hannay.
Stage One – Friday 22 July
The event begins with a Friday-night criterium that uses the same fast-flowing 1.1km circuit around the Isle of Man Business Park that was used in the 2019 race. The women take on 30 laps of the circuit (33km) before the men tackle 40 laps (44km).
Stage Two – Saturday 23 July
The race moves to the Jurby Airfield Raceway on Saturday morning for a fast 2.6km circuit race. With barely an elevation at all, this will be another stage that suits the flat-track bullies. It is an open and exposed circuit though, so riders will need to watch for splits if the wind blows.
Stage Three – Saturday 23 July
This is where the GC race truly begins as the riders take on flat 16km time trial on an out-and-back course, with riders restricted to using their road bikes. GC time differences should be tight after the first two stages, so this could be where some gaps begin to open up.
Stage Four – Sunday 24 July
Sunday’s final stage is also the queen stage –the longest and hilliest of the four and finishes by the Isle of Man TT Grandstand. The women’s race is 89km in total and takes in 1,386m of climbing, while the men cover 132km and tackle 2,073m of climbing.
Both races begin with one lap of the iconic TT Snaefell Mountain Course – a hilly 60km circuit that takes the riders to just over 400m above sea-level. The course then takes in a smaller loop through the Baldwin Valleys, which includes Injebreck Hill, a brutal 1.8km averaging 12.4%, with a maximum gradient of 18.4%. It is followed by around 6km of false flat before a second descent of the Mountain Road to the finish at the TT Grandstand. The women’s race finishes here, while the men go on to complete six laps of a 7.2 km finishing circuit.
Riders to watch
UCI Continental outfit CAMS-Basso arrive with a strong team. Local rider Becky Storrie had a phenomenal start to the season, including a commanding Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix win. She’s had some time out from racing, but if she is anywhere near top form, she’ll be one of the favourites for the overall.
Her teammate Sammie Stuart is accomplished in crit racing – powerful enough to succeed in the road bike time trial and with the strength and endurance to place highly on the final stage.
Manx rider Jessie Carridge (Brother UK-Orientation Marketing) will be well-motivated and – with the third at the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix and seventh at the Lancaster Grand Prix – has already proven she’s one of the strongest domestic riders on a punchy course this year.
National Road Series leader Alice McWilliam (Bianchi HUNT Morvélo) has been the model of consistency so far in the Series without ever quite getting the win. With four stage opportunities, plus the overall, she has enough all-round qualities for that to change on the Isle of Man.
Lucy Ellmore and Jo Tindley (both Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes by Heidi Kjeldsen) are two more to watch. Ellmore typically goes well on the type of lumpy terrain offered up on stage four, while Tindley has proven her class on all types of terrain in the past.
Lee Boon (Torelli-Cayman-Islands-Scimitar) and junior sensation Emma Jeffers (JRC-INTERFLON Race Team) have been excellent in crits this year, so they will be two of the favourites on stages 1 and 2.
WiV SunGod will be the team to watch in the men’s race, having dominated the recent National Road Series and National Circuit Series races. National circuit race champion Matt Bostock will have the sprints covered, while Jake Scott, Ben Perry and Matthew Teggart are options for wins on stage four – and for the overall too.
Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling’s Finn Crockett seems back on form now, keen to defend his National Road Series lead, and was seventh at the Lancaster Grand Prix, while Zeb Kyffin is another in-form rider.
The other UCI Continental team at the race, Saint Piran, have half the squad racing in France, but local rider Leon Mazzone can do as well in a crit as he can on the punchy stage four. New signing Adam Lewis is another rider that can go well on the hills, while Scot Michael Gill should be one to watch in the time trial.
Finally, last year’s Junior Tour of Wales winner Tyler Hannay (CC Etupes) will be well-motivated in his first year as an under 23.
How to follow
For more a more in-depth preview of the race, as well as the latest start lists, head to The British Continental.