Team Sky’s Pete Kennaugh is set to defend the British road race champion’s jersey on Sunday, on a course that he’s profited on in the past.
We look at the case, analysing Kennaugh’s form, the parcours and his rivals ahead of the prestigious event in Lincolnshire on Sunday 28 June.
Kennaugh won the opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine earlier in June, demonstrating that he’s in supreme shape. It was a quick turnaround before flying straight out to Team Sky's traditional pre-Tour training camp in Chatel, which should also deliver Kennaugh in prime condition for a title defence.
If he’s free from team obligations at the nationals he should be hard to beat if he’s there in the final selection.
The Manxman, sporting the red and yellow colours of Team Isle of Man, won the iconic Lincoln Grand Prix in 2013. The Elite Road Series event shares key features with the national championships course, including the famous Michaelgate climb, which the peloton takes on eight times on Sunday.
Kennaugh has made course experience pay in Abergavenny last year, having ridden the same roads to third place in 2009. Therefore, previous Lincoln experience will give Kennaugh confidence that he can profit again if the race goes his way.
Kennaugh has been on the podium five times since 2008, a greater hit rate than any other rider in the same era. Taking the top step is a very different proposition to medalling but Kennaugh’s nationals medal haul is the best of his generation.
Fellow Manxman Mark Cavendish is on the start list for the event and isn’t a man who will enter a race he doesn’t believe he can win.
While the finish soon after the top of Michaelgate doesn’t suit a pure sprinter like the 2011 world champion, Cavendish proved that he can live with the best on a course with repeated steep climbs, after taking the 2013 title on Glasgow’s steep city streets.
Simon Yates finished a fine third in 2014 but has grown further in stature since then, riding the nationals after winning the young riders’ jersey at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Yates was worked over by the strength in depth of Team Sky last year, with only brother and fellow Orica GreenEdge rider Adam for support. But this year, the 22-year-old from Bury may be a different proposition.
“It’s an amazing feeling.”
The Team Sky man’s 2014 win meant a lot to him after a string of near misses stretching back to 2008.
“I've been so close to this title for so many years, this has to be a really special result for me,” said Kennaugh after his Abergavenny triumph.
Winning back-to-back titles has proven difficult in the modern era. In fact the last man to achieve the feat was multiple road and cyclo-cross national champion Roger Hammond, who took the red, white and blue jersey in 2003 and 2004.
John Tanner also took back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000.
How to follow the racing
- Live reporting on the British Cycling website from 9am covering the women’s and men’s races.
- Live coverage on British Eurosport (Sky channel 412 or 410 for HD) (Virgin channel 521 or 522 for HD) from 11:30am joining the women’s race and continuing until the end of the men’s race.
- Updates on Twitter @BritishCycling.
- A one-hour highlights programme on ITV4 (Freeview channel 24, Sky channel 120, Virgin channel 118) on Monday 29 June from 6pm.