George Atkins leads the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series ahead of the final round in Sheffield on 24 July. However, it’s tight at the top and three men can wrest the title from the 100%ME rider on Wednesday evening.
Above: Second placed Ed Clancy (right) speaks to series leader George Atkins at the Beverley round. Clancy is with 37 points of the series win with just one round remaining.
In a campaign where consistent scoring has paid big dividends, Atkins has a lead of 37 points over second placed Ed Clancy (Rapha Condor JLT). Clancy’s teammate, third placed Felix English is also mathematically capable of catching Atkins.
The same is true for the on-form Mike Northey (Node4 Giordana Racing), who took the win in Abergavenny and was in the break in the previous round in Beverley. However, all will rely upon an uncharacteristic dip in form from Atkins if they are to seize the title.
Atkins opened his account with a third place in Otley before soloing to victory in Stockton-on-Tees, bagging valuable sprint points on the way. Two seventh places in Abergavenny and Colne, followed by fifth place in Beverley have left the 21-year-old from Leicester within touching distance of his first senior national title.
The Beverley round saw a four man break stay away until the end, with Team UK Youth’s Jon Mould claiming the victory, much to the chagrin of defending champion Graham Briggs (Team Raleigh) who currently lies in sixth position. Briggs may be out of the running for the 2013 title but will be keen to restore pride, evidenced by his team’s robust efforts to peg back the breakaway in Beverley.
And there’s plenty of talent in the field which will line up on Pinstone Street including Sheffield’s-own Downing brothers – younger brother Russ (NetApp-Endura) fresh from winning the National Circuit Race Championships in York, while elder brother Dean just missed out on a podium finish.
Circuit champs bronze medallist Ian Wilkinson is a rider whose position in the standings belies his ability; one of many quality riders who could steal valuable points from Atkins’ rivals.
The Sheffield finale will see riders travel anticlockwise around the course. On leaving the start the field will travel down Pinstone Street, left onto Furnival Gate down to the roundabout and sweep left on Arundel Gate.
Riders will turn left at the Crucible Theatre and make their way up Norfolk Street. From here riders will ride on the cobbled section, turning right onto Surrey Street before completing one full lap.
The race begins at 8:30pm on a night which also includes the latest round of the British Cycling Women’s National Road Series. Report and reaction will appear here on the British Cycling website.