Preview: Ampleforth set for 2012 National Road Race Championships

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Location: Ampleforth, Yorkshire
Event: 24 June 2012
Preview: Andrew Kennedy/Scott Hobro

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Ampleforth is the location for this weekend’s National Road Race Championships – the single biggest day of road racing on the British calendar which is reflected in a strong field heading for the scenic Ryedale district of North Yorkshire.

The women’s National Road Race Championship begins the day, departing Ampleforth College for six laps of a rolling 9.5mile / 15.2km circuit. The total race distance will be 66.5 miles / 107km. This is followed by the men’s race which begins with three laps of a longer 18.9 mile circuit that takes the riders by the ruins of Byland Abbey, the scenic villages of Coxwold, Oulston, Crayke and Brandsby before climbing to Yearsley. The race then moves to a shorter circuit of 9.5 miles which the riders will complete six times to make a total race distance of 182km/113.7m.

Men’s race

The absence of last year’s men’s winner Bradley Wiggins, who is preparing for the Tour de France, means a new champion is guaranteed with Team Sky aiming to make it a hat-trick of victories following Geraint Thomas’ 2010 success preceding Wiggins’ triumph. With a line-up featuring British Cycling Podium Programme riders Alex Dowsett, Ian Stannard and Ben Swift, in addition to Jeremy Hunt and Luke Rowe, the UCI WorldTour team will be expected to yield a winner but this is by no means a formality.

Endura Racing have dominated the domestic scene this season, winning the Halfords Tour Series along with last year’s U23 champion Scott Thwaites becoming National Circuit Race Champion as well as currently heading up the Premier Calendar Series standings. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke’s superb victories in the Tour Méditerranéen and the Tour du Haut Var earlier in the year means he cannot be overlooked and with a squad that will also feature 2005 winner Russell Downing, Ian Bibby, Ian Wilkinson and Jonathan McEvoy, the potential for a victory is plain to see.

Elsewhere, 100% ME – featuring British Cycling Academy riders George Atkins, Owain Doull, Sam Harrison, Joseph Kelly, Tom Moses, Alistair Slater and Simon Yates, Rapha Condor Sharp (including British Cycling Podium Programme track riders Andy Tennant and Ed Clancy), Team Raleigh-GAC, Node4 - Giordana Racing and Team IG-Sigma Sport will hope to assert themselves. British Cycling Podium Programme riders Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma Quickstep) and Stephen Cummings (BMC Racing) are the only representatives from each of their teams respectively.

Video - Course preview

Women’s race

In the women’s race, reigning champion and Olympic medal hopeful Lizzie Armitstead is part of the AA drink quartet – Sharon Laws, Lucy Martin and 2010 victor Emma Pooley make up the team which will no doubt look to dictate proceedings in Yorkshire. Ten-time national champion Nicole Cooke is the sole Team Faren – Honda hope but the Olympic champion will be keen to win after two years without the national jersey.

Current National Women’s Road Series leader and multiple para-cycling world champion Sarah Storey (Escentual For VioRed) will be looking to continue her strong road form and training for the Paralympics.

Team pursuit world champion Laura Trott is firmly focused on Olympic preparations on the track and therefore last year’s under 23 champion will not be present. Hannah Walker and Hannah Rich (Matrix Fitness-Prendas), Corrine Hall and Harriet Owen (both of Node 4 Giordana) in addition to National Women’s Circuit Champion Hannah Barnes (Team Ibis Cycles) make up part of a talented group in the running to replace Trott as the under 23 champion.

‘A course for any type of rider’

What kind of riders will be apt to the course? British Cycling asked race organiser Bob Howden who the new course at Ampleforth will suit.

“With any National Championship that I’ve organised in the past I’ve always looked to find a course that would suit any type of rider, so the key feature at Ampleforth is that for anyone who wants to make a race of it the opportunity is there,” Howden said. “This is a rolling circuit that doesn’t have a killer climb, but that doesn’t mean it will suit the out and out sprinters, this circuit will produce a worthy champion. The key features of this new course are that firstly it’s very scenic.

“Although I don’t expect the riders to notice much of what we have here in Yorkshire, the spectators will love it. The women’s race has a slightly different circuit to the men’s, but is still a testing challenge. The men will know they’ve been in a very difficult race when they’ve completed 113 miles. For both of the races the roads are very challenging, there are some narrow twisting lanes, short sharp climbs, fast descents that will test the riders nerve and bike handling skills. The finish in the grounds of Ampleforth College will be spectacular, the finish line is at the top of a natural amphitheatre and the crowds will have a grandstand view of the riders in the final 1km racing towards the line.”

This year’s National Road Race Championships will be broadcast on ITV4 on Monday 25 June at 7pm. There will be full coverage of the event here on, leading up to and after the event.

Who do you think will be the winners? Let us know by commenting below.