The 2013 British Cycling Premier Calendar Road Race Series begins with the Tour of the Reservoir this weekend.
A total of 181 miles will be covered over the two-day event in Northumberland, presenting riders with the chance to impose themselves on the standings early in this year’s competition.
Endura Racing dominated the 2012 series, winning five of the six races and delivering the overall champion in Yorkshireman Scott Thwaites. Only Team Raleigh’s Graham Briggs could break the Endura stranglehold at the Stockton Grand Prix denouement.
Thwaites’ triumph in last year’s one day edition of the Tour of the Reservoir was one of two victories but he nor the majority of his Endura Racing counterparts will be present this time, the squad having merged to become Team NetApp-Endura with a UCI Professional Continental licence.
It leaves a myriad of teams to battle for supremacy and former Endura rider Ian Wilkinson, who won last week’s Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic, expects a healthy competition.
“There’s going to be twenty guys in it that can win it with the teams this year,” said Wilkinson, now of Team UK Youth.
“We [Endura] had quite a significant team last year, which reflected, some really talented riders. This year I’m pretty sure there’s a good spread, there’s six teams with a good spread of riders.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a real even sort of racing which should make for better racing.
“I’m really looking forward to the Premier Calendars. It’s nice that the reservoir is going to two-day up there.”
Elsewhere, Ian Bibby, who won the Tour of the Reservoir in 2011 on his way to Premier Calendar glory, forms part of a robust Madison Genesis outfit with the experienced Dean Downing and Liam Holohan also lining up.
British Cycling’s Olympic Academy Programme riders have enjoyed a fruitful opening to their UCI under 23 Nations’ Cup campaign and will aspire to continue their endeavours in the colours of 100% ME.
World points race champion Simon Yates, with a third place at the La Cote Picardie and more recently victory in the Ardennes Challenge stage race, has experienced a win in the series at the 2011 Twinings Pro-Am. He is joined by Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Sam Harrison, Joseph Kelly, Samuel Lowe and Ali Slater.
Team Raleigh, including Elite Circuit Series champion Graham Briggs, a youthful Rapha Condor JLT and Team IG Sigma Sport are among the start list and will want to fill the void left by Endura’s absence.
Saturday’s first stage will see riders complete a hilly 75 miles over five laps of a circuit around Blanchland and Edmundbyers, ending in the grounds of Derwent Reservoir from which the race inherits its name.
Sunday’s 104 miles over eight laps again departs from Blanchland, taking in Pow Hill and Carrick Corner on each lap before going into the Northumbrian Water grounds on the final circuit for a short climb to the finish.
This year’s Premier Calendar then travels for the University of Lincoln GP (12 May), Beaumont Trophy (30 June), Stockton Velo29-Altura Grand Prix (7 July), Grand Prix of Wales (14 July) before concluding at the Ryedale Grand Prix on the 28 July.