After an attritional start to the 2015 UCI Under 23 Nations’ Cup series in Flanders saw just three Britons finish, Great Britain Cycling Team hope for better fortune at the second event, La Cote Picarde in France on Wednesday 15 April.
Owain Doull will aim to convert his excellent form into results in the Somme and will be supported by Jon Dibben, Germain Burton, Ollie Wood, Mark Stewart and Chris Latham.
Owain Doull will return to action in France hungry for the podium after bad luck at the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften on Saturday.
Doull was fourth on the road with just 10 kilometres of the Flandrian classic remaining before a puncture scuppered his chances of a win, the Welshman eventually placing a creditable 10th in Oudenaarde.
Jon Dibben and Chris Latham stay in the team for the French coastal race along with Doull, the last men standing at Flanders after torrential rain caused chaos on the finishing loop.
Chris Lawless was worst off after the weekend – crashing heavily at the foot of a cobbled descent and sustaining a hand injury that rules him out for Picarde.
Scott Davies, who was favoured to support Doull in the final in Flanders, crashed twice in the rain and suffered grazing to the hip, knee and elbow, but will ride the UCI 2.2.Tour du Loir et Cher E Provost with Great Britain’s podium athletes, along with Jake Kelly and Gabriel Cullaigh.
Ollie Wood, Mark Stewart and Germain Burton will be brought back into play after riding Scheldeprijs on Wednesday 8 April. Stewart lit up the final of the Belgian race, going on a solo attack and getting caught with 150 metres to go, while Wood took fourth place in the bunch sprint.
Despite the war of attrition that the team has endured so far, road manager Keith Lambert is upbeat about the Picarde, after a strong team performance in 2014.
"We've still got six good men standing,” said Lambert.
"It's the sort of race that Owain will relish. The finishing circuit there, it's got two climbs on each circuit.
"He was in a really good position last year but crashed and lost time.
"The team were well up for it and riding really well for him and he crashed in a good position.
"We're hoping for the best for him to get some good performances for his future.”
La Cote Picarde is the second event in the season-long UCI Nations’ Cup for under-23 riders. Following the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften, the 155.6-kilometre event is the second single day event in the series, which also includes multi-day UCI 2.Ncup events such as the ZLM Tour and Le Tour de l’Avenir.
The event takes place in the Picarde coastal area, part of the Somme department in northern France. The race begins at the seaside commune of Le Crotoy on the estuary of the Somme and heads north for the town of Rue before heading for the coast at Fort Mahon Plage and the first of three sprints.
The second sprint comes as the race heads back through Rue before a third and final sprint at Crecy en Ponthieu, 71 kilometres in.
The route then turns south and heads for the outskirts of Abbeville before turning west for the final section of the race, punctuated by a succession of short climbs. The final act is a circuit of Mers Les Bains with two further climbs that the race will tackle twice before a winner is decided.
"The race to the circuit is pretty much undulating really - those other three climbs are nothing much at all,” said Lambert.
"But then you get to the finishing circuit and there's two each lap.
"They're not steep but they're heavy - they just go on and on."
How to follow the race
- Reports and results will appear on the British Cycling website
Great Britain Cycling Team for La Cote Picarde 2015
- Germain Burton
- Owain Doull
- Jon Dibben
- Chris Latham
- Mark Stewart
- Oliver Wood