Britain’s finest domestic road racing talents will assemble in Northumberland this weekend for the prestigious Curlew Cup and Beaumont Trophy road races. The races form the final rounds of the women’s and men’s 2023 National Road Series, respectively. With individual and team series honours to be decided, Sunday should serve up some tense and thrilling racing.
The men’s Beaumont Trophy has a storied history dating back to 1952, making it one of the oldest road races in the UK, and it has attracted big names in British and international cycling over the years. Previous winners include legends like Sir Bradley Wiggins, Malcom Elliot, and Joey McLoughlin. Last year’s winner was Saint Piran’s Jack Rootkin-Gray, who is back this year to defend his crown.
Launched in 2012, the Curlew Cup might have a shorter history but it has quickly become a key fixture on the women’s racing calendar. It has its own rollcall of notable past winners including Dame Sarah Storey, Hannah Barnes, and Katie Archibald. Alice McWilliam, then of Bianchi HUNT Morvélo, won last year’s edition.
Starting and finishing in the charming village of Stamfordham, Northumberland, both races take in a picturesque route featuring a challenging mix of climbs, fast descents, and technical B-roads. The infamous Ryals climb at the heart of the course, a 2.7km ascent featuring a series of steps and gradients hitting up to 13% in places.
The Curlew Cup entails three laps of a 40.8 kilometre circuit, with a total race distance of 122.4 kilometres. 1,593 metres of elevation is tackled in the process. The Beaumont Trophy takes in four laps of the same circuit, followed by one lap of a shorter 22 kilometre finishing circuit, making for a 182.3 kilometre race with 2,312 metres of climbing in all.
Riders to watch
Series leader Monica Greenwood (DAS-Handsling) will start as one of the favourites, still on the hunt for an elusive first National Road Series road race victory, and gunning to seal the overall series win. Her nearest rival in the series standings, Mary Wilkinson (Team Boompods) sits 20 points behind. Wilkinson has looked stronger as the season has progressed, so Greenwood will need to watch the talented climber closely, especially on the Ryals.
The leading U23 rider in the series is 2023 Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix winner Robyn Clay. Clay has Greenwood in her sights for the overall title too, sitting just 31 points back. She will be a threat for the win, backed up by a strong Pro-Noctis – Heidi Kjeldsen – 200 Degrees Coffee team.
Greenwood is also supported by an impressive line-up, including 2022 National Road Series winner Sammie Stuart and recent Rás na mBan stage winner Emma Jeffers.
Hutchinson-Brother is another strong team; Lancaster Grand Prix winner Ruth Shier among their contenders. The squad is just 29 points behind DAS-Handsling in the Series team standings, so will need to pack out the two places to usurp Greenwood’s team.
Others to watch include 2023 CiCLE Classic winner Jess Finney (AWOL O’Shea), Lifeplus-Wahoo rider Kate Richardson and Wahoo-Le Col’s Lizi Brooke, an e-racing specialist who has blossomed on the road this year.
Saint Piran is once again the team to watch in the men’s race. The team has dominated the National Road Series this year, taking clean sweeps of the podium in every race, with another all-conquering performance expected again this weekend. Series leader Zeb Kyffin starts the race with an eight point lead on his teammate Harry Birchill, who also heads the U23 Series rankings. The pair are the only two riders with a mathematical chance of the series win so team tactics may come into play in deciding the victor.
Jack Rootkin-Gray (who joins EF Education-EasyPost next season), Alex Richardson, and Finn Crockett are another three incredibly strong options for the team.
TRINITY Racing appears to be the squad most likely to rival Saint Piran. The team’s provisional line-up includes 2023 Orlens Grand Prix stage winner Bob Donaldson, 2022 Tour Alsace champion Finlay Pickering and Max Walker, who was ninth in the recent U23 world road race championships.
Elsewhere on the provisional startlist, Wales Racing Academy’s Ed Morgan was the ‘best of the rest’ at the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix, finishing sixth behind five Saint Piran riders.
Thomas Armstrong (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli), Damien Clayton (Embark Spirit BSS), Ollie Peckover (trainSharp Elite) and Rowan Baker (London Dynamo) are other names that could feature in the top ten based on recent form.
The Curlew Cup starts at 8:45pm, while the Beaumont Trophy begins at 1:45pm.
You can follow the action on the British Cycling social media channels. For more a more in-depth preview of the race, head to The British Continental.