Yesterday British Cycling announced the course details of the National Road Races and time trials which will take place in Glasgow in the week of June 20-23.
The time trial will run through East Ayrshire on Thursday 20 June – it is the first time the time trial is being held the same week as the road race.
The road race: course
Previously on Scottish forums, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the rumoured city centre course, with purists not happy at the lack of hills or the lost opportunity to explore the ‘traditional’ cycling terrain of central Scotland such as the Trossachs or the Campsies.
However the pros of having a city course mean that the race is taken to the people, there will be many more spectators than there would have been and the atmosphere should be fantastic. The city centre course is a bold move but is clearly looking to capitalise on the cycling boom and the increased interest amongst the general public. Of course it is a dry run for the Commonwealth Games 2014 but that event will be run on the same principles: take the racing to as many people as possible, die-hard fans or not.
The 14.2km circuit is like a long criterium and with 13 laps there are a lot of tight corners to deal with- especially around the Merchant City and Woodlands. There are some cobbles up in Park Circus, with the architecture and greenery up there will look good on TV. However it’s not clear whether the Park Circus section will take in the cobbles or skirt round. Similarly the University Avenue will provide another opportunity for the cameras to linger on our fantastic architecture. If we don’t get a shot of the cloisters I’ll be disappointed.
The race will actually go through Kelvingrove Park, rather than down Kelvin Way – possibly avoiding the undesirables – which is a fascinating inclusion. How they will do this I am not certain – surely it will have to be full barriers – in which case it will be narrow. Will team cars be able to get through here? Despite the lack of major climbs there will be other ways for teams to shed their rivals, and crashes, punctures or mechanicals may be key to ruining the chances of some riders.
Alan Anderson has already mapped the circuit on Strava: I wonder if any pros will upload their data?
The road race: riders
How it unfolds will depend on who enters- opinion is divided about Cavendish as he will be focusing on a big performance at the Tour for his new Omega Pharma Quick Step team. But he has often ridden the National RR in the past, but on hilly courses he tended to climb off after he was distanced. This time the course is more favourable to sprinters.
QSPS’ other British rider- Andy Fenn, who is qualified to ride for Scotland is another fast finisher who can last the distance over a long, tough championship course.
Spokey Doke blog is tipping BMC’s Adam Blythe and I am expecting a considered preview over there.
Could we see hardman Ian Stannard, who won many plaudits for his riding in the early classics attack from a long way out? Or if David Millar can get fit and healthy, and he is riding, he might be firing on all cylinders ahead of domestique duties at the tour, and could do something similar. Imagine a breakaway with those two.
Team Sky have the strength in depth – Wiggins, Froome, Thomas, Rowe, Kennaugh, Tiernan-Locke – to put all the others under pressure, but it remains to be seen how many of them will ride. Sky may be out to rectify their failure to live up to expectations in the one-day classics so the tactics will be interesting, but the onus will be squarely on them to ride, chase and control the race. Who will their leader or leaders be? Ben Swift has the fast finish and some big stage wins to his name. Maybe Thomas or Stannard could escape towards the end.
I am of limited experience in analysing races or predicting outcomes but Sky will need to shed Cavendish to win. How you do that over a course with 6 lumps of only 40-50m in height on the profile I am not sure. It will have to be very fast, but Cav should be able to get to the finish. His lack of teammates may hinder him (he only has Andy Fenn I think) but we have seen him wheel-hop and win when he was isolated last year, when Sky were concentrating on their GC contenders.
What do you think? There is already an established thread on Braveheart but I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.