The British Cycling Elite Circuit Series begins on Wednesday 2 July with the Otley GP and with the Tour de France passing through three days later, the profile of the event is at an all-time high.
A strong field including 21-year-old sensation Adam Yates is set to contest the first of the six-round series, which also visits Stockton, Colne, Beverley and Sheffield before the series winner is crowned in Abergavenny on 30 July.
Yates will be the star attraction on the Otley start line, winning the Tour of Turkey and achieving top ten finishes in the Amgen Tour of California and Criterium du Dauphine in his first year as a professional with the Orica-GreenEdge WorldTour squad.
Yates finished sixth at the weekend’s national road championships after spending the latter half of the race in the break with eventual winner Peter Kennaugh.
However, the battle for series honours is likely to be resumed where it ended in 2013, with all the major protagonists on the start list.
George Atkins took the 2013 title riding for 100% ME, thanks to a win in Stockton and consistent finishing throughout. Atkins returns for 2014 with a Team Raleigh squad including Evan Oliphant and circuit race specialist Ian Wilkinson.
Team Raleigh were among a quartet of teams that dominated the Pearl Izumi Tour Series – wrestling for supremacy with Rapha Condor JLT, Madison Genesis and NFTO.
The Rapha Condor JLT squad that took the team prize at the Tour Series will return to street racing action in Otley, with former elite circuit series champion Graham Briggs, Olympic champion Ed Clancy and 2009 national road champion Kristian House the experienced heart of a dynamic young team led by Jon Herety.
Briggs won the series in 2012 and was runner-up in 2013 so the Yorkshireman will be keen to get his 2014 series off to a good start in Otley. Briggs’ teammate Felix English was third overall in 2013, equal on points with his teammate.
Madison Genesis are also out in force in Otley. Their on-form riders Tobyn Horton and Tom Stewart have both taken wins in the Tour Series and are backed up with a strong squad including Mike Northey, who finished fourth overall in 2013.
NFTO bring another strong outfit after winning the Tour Series sprints competition with young rider Jon Mould from Newport joined by fellow Welshman Sam Harrison, while the talismanic Dean and Russell Downing bring vast criterium racing experience to the party, Dean having finished fifth overall in 2013 riding for Madison Genesis.
The event is part of a whole evening of racing, run alongside the sixth round of the British Cycling Women’s Road Series and a packed schedule of youth and regional races.
With the Tour de France passing through the town just a few days later, the profile of the Otley event is bigger than ever, with Tour de France organiser Christian Prudhomme, five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault and Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity in attendance.