A host of domestic and international cycling talent is set to converge on Chorley on 26 March, for the first round of the Motorpoint Spring Cup Series, stop one of five exciting events in this year’s expanded series.
Last year’s Chorley Grand Prix winner Ian Bibby returns along with overall 2015 Spring Cup victor Steve Lampier but some notable names on the start sheet may change the script when racing begins in Chorley town centre.
About the series
The Motorpoint Spring Cup Series is a five-round series running from March through to May. Following the Chorley Grand Prix, the series sets sail for the Isle of Man on 10 April, with the inaugural Manx International Grand Prix, before heading to the north-east for the two-day Tour of the Reservoir a weekend later.
Cycle Wiltshire is the penultimate round on Sunday 8 May before the prestigious Lincoln Grand Prix brings the series to a dramatic conclusion on the cobbles of Michaelgate.
Riders will race for the Motorpoint Spring Cup Series leader’s jersey while there is also the battle for the team classification.
The Chorley Grand Prix starts at 11am and offers a stern early-season test for the Motorpoint Spring Cup Series peloton; 116 miles with five ascents of the challenging Rivington Pike climb. The tough parcours is set to produce some attacking racing, as it did in its inaugural edition twelve months ago.
Ones to watch
Ian Bibby lives just a few miles down the road from the event start in Chorley and knows the roads like the back of his hand, evidenced by his finely-judged winning move in 2015. Bibby returns after a strong cyclo-cross season amid a talented NFTO line-up, featuring Josh Edmondson and Jonny McEvoy.
Last year’s Spring Cup winner Steve Lampier also returns albeit in a different team. 2015 saw Lampier, in Raleigh GAC colours, play a big part in the decisive move, along with Bibby and Eddie Dunbar.
Lampier will however line up in the colours of JLT Condor; a team packed with ability, including George Atkins, Graham Briggs, Ed Clancy, Russ Downing and the effervescent talent of Stephen Williams.
It is however the eight-man UCI Continental Pedal Heaven outfit that will be causing rival team managers sleepless nights.
Amid experienced, talismanic riders like Lancastrian Ian Wilkinson and Liverpool’s Dave McGowan there is a host of young talent – most notably Grant Ferguson, who will ride selected races on the road amid his UCI Mountain Bike World Cup commitments.
Ferguson made his debut with the team at the Perfs Pedal E123 race in February, Rory Townsend winning the race with his black and green-clad stablemates dominating the top ten.
Team Wiggins sends a five-man squad similarly infused with mountain biking talent, with Mike Thompson joining Jake Kelly, Luc Hall, Sam Lowe and Daniel Patten.
2015 winning team Raleigh GAC have six men in the fray, including Tour of the Reservoir winner Evan Oliphant and Steven Roach, the latter fresh from a strong domestic cyclo-cross season.
What happened last year
The first edition of the Chorley Grand Prix saw the decisive move come from an 18-man breakaway – NFTO’s Eddie Dunbar attacked the select group and splintered the race, with teammate and eventual winner Ian Bibby joining him along with Steve Lampier. The trio built a comfortable lead as the finish approached and the podium looked to be locked down.
However Lampier’s teammate, multiple track world champion Morgan Kneisky, had other ideas, attacking from the remains of the initial break to overhaul Dunbar and claim a place on the podium alongside Lampier.
At the same time, Bibby had decided not to gamble on a three-up sprint and attacked, streaking away to a satisfying solo victory on local roads.
How to follow the race
- Follow our live blog from 10.30am on Saturday 16 March for race updates, images and social media.
- Follow @BritishCycling on Twitter for updates throughout the race.
- Video highlights, report, results, images and reaction will appear on the British Cycling website.
- Highlights will be shown on Eurosport.