Event date: Saturday 3rd March 2012
Event location: Aintree Racecourse, Melling Road, Aintree, Liverpool L9 5AB
Race HQ location: Kirkby Leisure Centre, Cherryfield Drive, Kirkby, Merseyside L32 8SA
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Brief history of the race:
First run in 1962, this classic early season race is at the top of the road riders' early season hit list. The past winners of the Soens reads like a who’s who of British Road racing: they include Doug Dailey, Pete Matthews, Les West, Brian Rourke, Kevin Apter, Ian Hallam, Matt Illingworth, Steve Cummings, Chris Newton, Rob Hayles, Ian Stannard, and Ed Clancy. In 1991 Julie Hill became the first and only female winner of the Soens, with Steve Cummings and Josh Edmondson both winning as juniors.
The handicap format of the race encourages the juniors, women and lower category riders, who start several minutes ahead of the Elite riders, to make a bid for glory, with the scratch group (containing the Elites) having to go from the gun to have any chance of success.
Most of the UK based professional teams come into the Soens with warm weather training and race miles in their legs, whilst the remainder of the starters have only just begun to get some decent training in. For the regular club riders the Soens offers a taste of what it’s really like to be part of a huge, fast moving peloton.
Racing type: Handicap road race on closed circuit. Signing on at Kirkby Leisure Centre closes at 8.55am. Race start at Aintree Racecourse 0930am. Organiser advises full field, entries closed, no entry on the line.
The Soens is perfect for spectators, you can see most of the circuit from the start finish area, keep behind the barriers. The circuit is exposed, wrap up in warm clothing. Spectators must park as directed, stay in the spectator areas and keep away from the Golf Course.
Riders to watch out for:
Simon Yates (100%ME) prolific winner in 2011 and a certain star of the future, Richard Hepworth (CyclePremier) in-form winner of last weeks Clayton Velo Spring Classic, any Endura rider - we will leave you to pick your favourite, but Ian Wilkinson is a safe bet. And finally 4 times Soens winner Tony Gibb (Metaltex-Scott) will be hoping the elites pull back the juniors for a sprint finale and a record breaking 5th win.
Organiser Carl Lawrenson commented “It’s a phenomenal entry this year, with more than 90% of riders using the new British Cycling online system to sign up for the race. It is unprecedented for us to close entries two weeks before the cut off date, and the number of riders entered means that there will be no entry on the day this year. It will be an incredible sight to see so many riders on the start line”.
“As ever the race will feature riders from all across the UK, with most of the top teams represented. The new look Rapha Condor Sharp and Node 4 squads will take on a strengthened Endura Racing while Team Raleigh have also shuffled their line up to mount a new challenge in 2012.”
Post race results and reports:
British Cycling will publish a full race report and images after the event, follow the race on Twitter @BCReports.
Start sheet: - PDF Download
Commemorating the 50th edition of the classic Eddie Soens Memorial Handicap Race, which took place on 5th March 2011, four times winner Doug Dailey MBE talks to Eddie Allen about the origins of the race, his first race win and the great man himself - the incomparable cycling coach Eddie Soens.
We also shot a video of the race itself - worth a look if you want to know what to expect and perhaps sort out your tactics ahead of the race: