Yanto Barker and his Team Raleigh squad are just one round away from securing the British Cycling Elite Road Series individual and team titles at the Ipswich and Coastal Grand Prix on Sunday 31 August.
But with the eight previous rounds producing eight different winners and the series standings closely fought, a double victory for the Raleigh squad is far from a foregone conclusion.
Barker has been the model of consistency since taking the lead of the season-long series with a win in the Lincoln Grand Prix back in May and has fought off a stiff challenge from Marcin Bialoblocki to head the table on 156 points, 21 points ahead of the Velosure-Giordana RT rider.
With a maximum of 30 points available in Ipswich, only Bialoblocki can catch Barker but the Team Raleigh rider will have to keep a watching brief, as he did in the previous round in Leicester, if he is to secure the series win.
Behind Bialoblocki and Barker is a two-way scrap for third place, currently led by Alex Peters of Madison Genesis on 117 points.
But Peters, winner of the opening Tour of the Reservoir round, will have to watch his back, with NFTO Pro Cycling’s Russell Downing snapping at his heels on 94. Downing has been strong in the latter half of the season and leads the subsidiary Grand Prix Series on 82 points from Velosure’s Matt Cronshaw.
While Barker looks odds-on to take the individual series title, the team competition is wide open, with just ten points separating the top four squads.
Team Raleigh lead on 68 points but just five points behind lie NFTO Pro Cycling, with Madison Genesis and Velosure-Giordana RT on 59 and 58 points respectively, so a strong team performance by any of the top four could result in a dramatic shake-up in the Suffolk finale.
Raleigh will have a battle on their hands to ensure overall and team victory with NFTO looking strong as the season draws to a close, Jon Mould’s victory in Leicester a vivid demonstration of their current form.
Riders will face 200-kilometres of racing, starting in Ipswich city centre before heading east to Woodbridge, crossing the River Deban to join the coastal circuit through Alderton and Hollesley.
The peloton will tackle the main loop five times before returning to Ipswich for what promises to be a dramatic final sprint beside the city’s striking Neptune Marina.
Racing begins on Sunday 31 August at 10:30am with full coverage on the British Cycling website.