Guide: British Cycling Elite Circuit Series starts with Otley Grand Prix

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The Otley Grand Prix signals the start of the 2015 British Cycling Elite Circuit Series, a series of eight exciting criterium events packed into the cycling crazy months of July and August.

As the Tour de France makes its through Holland, Belgium and France, the Elite Circuit Series brings top-class, spectator-friendly racing action to cycling-hungry British fans.

The 2015 series

After the opening event in Otley, the series heads to the midlands for the Stafford Grand Prix on Friday 3 July.

A week later and the series goes north-east for round three in Stockton-on-Tees before heading to Lancashire for the Colne Grand Prix on 15 July.

The Sheffield Grand Prix the following Wednesday is tailed two days later with the Beverley Grand Prix on 24 July before the series flies south to Wales for two back-to-back rounds in Chepstow on 5 August and the series finale in Abergavenny on 7 August, after which the series champion will be crowned.

How the series works

The top twenty finishers at each round score series points – with 30 points for the winner down to one point for 20th place, with the overall winner of the series being the rider who gains the highest total across the eight rounds.

The contenders

Action from the 2014 Otley Grand Prix

Team Raleigh’s Alexandre Blain was the overall Elite Circuit Series champion in 2014, building his win on a solid string of top ten finishes in the first five of six rounds.

Fifth in Otley and Stockton, the 34-year-old from Aix-en-Provence in France went on to finish sixth in Colne and eighth in Beverley. Another sixth place in Sheffield followed by 16th in the Chepstow finale left Blain on 127 points, six ahead of Team Raleigh stablemate George Atkins, with Rapha Condor JLT’s Chris Opie third on 118 points.

With Blain now riding for the French Team Marseille 13 KTM squad, Raleigh (now Raleigh GAC) will line up with seven riders in Otley including current Elite Road Series leader Steve Lampier alongside the experienced Evan Oliphant and Ian Wilkinson.

Local rider Scott Thwaites will wow the Otley crowds after his superb fifth place at the British Cycling National Road Race Championships in Lincoln, the Bora Argon 18 rider in the lead group for much of the race with world-class talents Mark Cavendish, Peter Kennaugh, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard.

Kristian House at the 2014 Otley Grand Prix

The 25-year-old hails from just two miles down the road in Burley-in-Wharfedale and is a two-time previous winner, taking victory in 2011 and 2012.

2014 Elite Circuit Series runner-up George Atkins now resides at One Pro Cycling, the new-for-2015 team fresh from a royal rumble with Madison Genesis at the Pearl Izumi Tour Series. Also on the start list for One Pro is Jon Mould, who recently finished an excellent tenth at the British championships.

Tour Series overall winners Madison Genesis will field six riders including Thomas Stewart, who, like Mould, impressed amid a world-class field at the nationals, placing 16th.

Team Wiggins send Chris Lawless, with a Tour Series win already under his belt, while the 100%ME squad for Otley is formidable - including two-time under-23 time trial champion Scott Davies, Course de la Paix stage winner Gabriel Cullaigh, Beaumont Trophy winner Chris Latham and under-23 British road race bronze medallist Matt Gibson.

While JLT Condor were unable to get on terms with One Pro Cycling and Madison Genesis in the Tour Series team classification, they certainly dominated the individual results. The men in black will be headed up by former series winner Graham Briggs and Olympian Ed Clancy, the latter taking victory at the Peterborough Tour Series, the Jupiter London Nocturne and narrowly missing out on the win in Otley last year.

Start list

The course

The course map for the 2015 Otley Grand Prix

The 2015 Otley Grand Prix will be the 30th running of the Grand Prix, part of the long-running Otley Cycle Races.

The race will be contested over one hour (circa 23 laps) of the familiar town centre circuit. Starting on Bondgate, the race heads west onto Burras Lane before a sharp left hander on Birdcage Walk. The race continues onto East Chevin road before a left onto Gay Lane leads riders back to the start-finish line on Bondgate.

Massive crowds and floodlit action make Otley one of the Elite Circuit Series’ staple venues and a perfect start to the eight round series.

Notable past winners include Steve Cummings (2004), Mark Cavendish (2005) and Adam Blythe (2014).

How to follow the racing