Welshman Jon Mould is set for a victory lap on home soil as the 2015 British Cycling Elite Circuit Series reaches its climax at the Wales Open Criterium in Abergavenny on Friday 7 August.
Mould, who hails from a few miles down the road in Newport, is uncatchable at the head of the series standings, having amassed 156 points through the preceding seven rounds.
But with second-placed Dave McGowan having missed round seven due to illness and a doubt for Abergavenny, plus a number of top riders finding late-season form, the race for the runner-up spots will be fierce.
Champion-in-waiting Mould retired from a rain-soaked penultimate round on Wednesday in the knowledge that his only mathematical series challenger, Pedal Heaven RT’s Dave McGowan, had not taken the start line.
While Mould is safe at the top of the table, McGowan’s round seven no-show allowed his rivals to edge closer, none more so than JLT Condor’s Graham Briggs, who wowed the Chepstow crowds with a from-the-gun solo victory, marking a welcome return to form for the Yorkshireman.
The former national circuit champion’s win elevated Briggs to third overall, just 15 points behind McGowan. With 30 points available for the win, a last-round leap to second overall is on the cards.
Briggs’ Chepstow win demoted fellow JLT Condor rider Felix English to fourth, 13 points away from the podium. English won round six in Beverley and with team-mate Tom Moses also in good form after taking second place on Wednesday, Jon Herety’s squad look set to end the season in style.
However, there’s a surfeit of talent stacked up on the Abergavenny entry list, all capable of stealing points from the series contenders. Recently-crowned British circuit race champion Ian Bibby is there, as is 2013 series champion George Atkins, who will be itching for a win before the curtain falls on the series.
Atkins’ teammate Chris Opie, third in Chepstow will have free reign to express himself in the final round, with the title already sewn up for Mould.
Abergavenny is no stranger to top-flight cycle racing and the busy Monmouthshire town will once again be transformed for the series finale. The race is part of the annual Abergavenny Festival of Cycling also featuring the Elite Road Series Grand Prix of Wales and Iron Mountain Sportif events.
The circuit starts and finishes outside the Post Office on Neville Street, heading towards a right turn onto Tudor Street. Another right leads to the long straight of Baker Street before a left brings riders to the hairpin turn at Abergavenny’s war memorial.
Hard acceleration out of the hairpin onto Frogmore Street will sap the legs as the one hour (plus five laps) race progresses, before a final right takes the race back to the start.
How to follow the racing
- Follow the race live on British Cycling from 8:00pm on Friday
- Follow @BritishCycling on Twitter for updates
- A report, results, reaction and images will appear on the British Cycling website
- A post-race wrap-up will appear on the British Cycling Events YouTube channel followed by a full highlights package on British Eurosport.