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Preview: Otley Cycle Races 2011
Otley Cycle Races
Bondgate, Otley, West Yorkshire, Wed 22nd June 2011
Racing starts at 6.20pm, Admission FREE
Source: Event Organiser
What's your favourite on-street Grand Prix circuit? Monaco maybe?Or Valencia? Well, now you can add Otley to the list as the 2011 Elite Cycle Race has been re-styled as the MAS Design Consultants Otley Grand Prix!
Overall 350 riders of all ages will take part in the four-race programme, with the best from across the UK facinga very strong local challenge including Otley's world champion Lizzie Armistead, Burley's young pro Scott Thwaites and talented amateurs Sam Ward and Gaby Shaw.
Once again, Otley families, visitors and cycling fans from across Yorkshire will pack onto Bondgate and Burras Lane to enjoy the thrill of three hours of free cycling entertainment. As the sun goes down on Wednesday 22nd June the UK's top pro racers will take to the streets of Otley, hitting speeds up to 40mph as they compete for points in British Cycling's prestigious circuit series - and the honour of winning one of the most challenging races in the UK season.
Before the pro action there's the chance for young riders to take part in the WGC Landscapes Lads and Lasses race and Triton Construction Super Prestige youth race. You will also be able to cheer on your favourite local club and team riders in the Chevin Cycles Otley Classic - a highly competitive ‘cavalry charge' with around 100 riders.
More - With crowds up to 4,000 thronging the pavements and pubs, the friendly atmosphere is legendary with the roar of the engine from our stylish lead car - a Subaru supplied by KT Green - completing the ‘continental' feel.
Now in its 26th year, Otley Cycle Races are organised and marshalled by local volunteers and sponsored by local businesses; the thing that binds them all together is a love of cycle sport and a desire to contribute something special to Otley's already bulging community calendar of festivals and events.
To find out more, including entry information for riders, visit www.otleycycleraces.co.uk or follow @otleycycleraces on Twitter.
Adam Blythe - Rising Star of Yorkshire: Young Yorkshire pro-rider Adam Blythe could be on course for a unique double at Otley Cycle Races next week. He won the 2005 Classic Race as a precocious 16-year-old amateur and is back with a strong chance in this year's main event, riding the Grand Prix for his Belgian team Omega Pharma Lotto. Back in 2005 Adam teamed up with veteran Graham Baxter in a two-man break that left the rest of the field gasping in their wake. The experienced Baxter looked good for the win, but in a breath-takingmove Adam came through on the inside of the final bend to take the lead. In 2008 he took a controversial decision to leave the British Olympic Academy for a professional career in Belgium, but his results and development since then have proved him right. He had his first major win in the 2010 Circuit Francio-Belge and is just back from riding his second Giro d'Italia (Italy's equivalent of the Tour de France) He will go straight from the Otley races to compete in the British National Roadrace championships in Northumberland.
Women Riders to Watch: Otley is rightly proud of its World Champion road and track cyclist Lizzie Armitstead. Current national under-23 National Roadrace champion and multiple medal-winner on the Track at the highest level, Lizzie still comes back each year to ride in her home-town race. As she herself says, "I like my friends and family to see what I do all year!" The rules of the sport mean that she can't ride with the elite men, so she takes her chances with the amateur riders in the Classic Race. Although this race is open to women, in previous years it has been male-dominated. This year could be different, as some very strong and talented women are joining Lizzie on the starting grid, possibly including her Cervelo team-mate Lucy Martin. Alongside Lizzie and Lucy will be no less than five members of the Motorpoint team which is taken domestic women's bike racing by storm this year, including current national road series leader Lucy Garner. And to prove just how good we are at producing fantastic women riders locally, Bramhope's Gaby Shaw will also be riding the Classic Race, having graduated from team Chevin to the upcoming For VioredBrookvex squad.
Malcolm Still Flying As He Nears 50: He won't thank us for pointing it out, but Malcolm Elliot is 50 later this year. The Motorpoint pro-cycling superman is still riding as well as ever, and his mixture of experience and power makes him a real asset in a tactical race like the MAS Design Consultants Grand Prix, where he can outfox riders who are less than half his age! A veteran of the Tour de France in the 1980s, Malcolm is looking to help Motorpoint break the stranglehold of Rapha Condor and Endura, the two teams which have dominated the domestic circuit race season to date. Otley's race is the first of six in the Elite Circuit Series this year, and will be televised for the first time by Sky Sports. It kick-starts the second half of the season, following on from the Tour Series of city-centre races where a recent win by Burley's Scott Thwaites in Stoke saw his Endura team narrow the gap with Rapha Condor in what has become a two-horse title race. Endura will be particularly strong next week, looking to catapult last year's winner Ian Wilkinson to a second consecutive victory.
Youth Race Preview: It's a testament to the increasing popularity of bike-racing that Otley's youth races this year will feature 120 under-16s all looking to be the next Mark Cavendish or Lizzie Armitstead. Gone are the cute kids on mountain bikes...get ready for some serious racing! Week on week the demand for high-standard race opportunities for young people is met locally by the White Rose League, and they are bringing their best and brightest young riders to warm up the Otley crowds with two exciting races. The WGC Landscapes Lads and Lassies race will let the under 12s loose on a circuit based on the Bondgate finishing straight. Following on from that the Triton Construction Super Prestige Youth Race sees 90 under-16s use the full circuit. Many of these riders are only a year or two away from racing with the seniors, and reports from the national youth circuit say that their racing is as exciting as watching the pro's. As well as Yorkshire's clubs, there are riders from across the North and the Midlands, and even an entry from Stirling. In among them, look out for Otley Cycle Club's lone rider, Chris Stokes.
Spectator Guide - Where to Watch: Our spectator guide to the Otley Cycle Races circuit.
A combination of the start/finish line and the lure of the Rose & Crown, Bondgate Bakery and The Junction mean that the big crowds always congregate on Bondgate. This year, why not explore the rest of the circuit during the evening. It may only be a mile and a half long but the racing is very different depending where you watch from:
• Shortly after the start/finish is the left-right complex that takes the riders onto the start of the climb. Watch them stream through here looking for the right wheel to follow up Burras Lane.
• It was great to see the picnics (and even the odd barbie) on the roadside up Burras Lane last year. The short, sharp climb followed by the longer drag up past Waitrose may not look much but it saps the energy and gets harder every lap. If the strong riders go to the front the bunch could easily split here.
• Two technical left-handers take the riders over the by-pass and onto Birdcage Walk. Sharp, narrow turns mean that unless you're near the front you'll have to work hard to stay in touch as the leaders speed away. This is the place to see the riders tough it out for the best position.
• A combination of narrow roads and subtle undulations make Birdcage Walk the ideal spot for a lone rider or small group to attack. If you watch from here, please stay well back on the narrow footway and remember just how fast the race is going - but you may be rewarded by seeing the winning break go away.
• By the time they hit the turn onto East Chevin Road the riders are already going downhill and winding up for Gay Lane. You've got to be almost as fearless to watch this corner as to ride it!
• Gay Lane is the fastest part of the course. For the riders, the game is to hold as much of that speed into the final corner as possible. It's usually one long line down here, but for sheer blistering pace this is the place to watch.
• Aside from the racing, there are plenty of places to pick up food and drink around the course, as well as the chance see some of the pro teams at work in the pit areas.