The city’s top elite, UCI registered racing teams, Trek-Drops and the men’s Madison Genesis outfit, line up tomorrow tonight (Thursday) for the opening round of this year’s televised OVO Energy Tour Series, now firmly established as a major target in the national racing calendar.
Returning as 2017 champions, the Trek-Drops squad have, so far this year, focussed their attention on the Women’s World Tour and their distinctive ‘colour the road’ jerseys have been in the forefront of the action in places as far apart as Adelaide in Australia for the year’s opening race at the Santos Women’s Tour to the muddied roads of northern Europe for the spring Classics.
And that busy programme is set to continue with the number of women’s Tour Series races matching, for the first time, the same ten race schedule that forms the men’s calendar.
The racing starts tonight in Redditch before traversing the length and breadth of the country visiting places as far apart as Aberdeen in the north to Aberystwyth in the west before finishing in Salisbury at the end of May.
The women’s calendar includes for the first time a visit to the city of Durham for what has always produced for the men a master-class in city centre racing as the competitors face a tight, rolling and, most importantly, cobbled circuit that regularly features many heart-stopping moments. And crashes.
One Trek-Drops rider to look out for is 21-year old Abi Van Twist who made her debut in the Tour Series at Redditch in 2015. Already her impressive results this year have included a fourth-place stage finish in the Santos Women’s Tour where she also finished 3rd overall in the young rider’s competition.
The Tour Series comes in the middle of a very busy section of the national racing calendar with both Trek-Drops and Madison Genesis having raced last week in the Tour de Yorkshire whilst on 13 May both teams will be lining up for what is arguably – outside of the National Championships – the country’s biggest one-day race.
The men’s Madison Genesis team have already enjoyed considerable success in the Tour Series in previous years – they were series champions in 2015 – and will be determined to outfox their closest rivals, JLT Condor.
Under the management of Colin Sturgess – the 1989 World Pursuit Champion – the team are already showing great form, currently leading both the team and rider competitions of British Cycling’s Spring Cup Series and with Mike Cuming’s having led the King of the Mountains competition in last week’s Tour de Yorkshire for the first three days racing.
About the team’s performance in Yorkshire Sturgess said that the team had put up “a phenomenal team effort” and that, over the four days racing, competing against World Tour competition, the team’s five riders had done everything he’d asked them to, adding that “I’ve got belief in them and I think they’ve got belief in me and that counts for a lot. We’ve got team unity…we’ve got guys who will lay down their race, that’s invaluable and they’re proving it week in week out.”
And that’s exactly the spirit and determination the team will be showing in the next few weeks as they move from stage to city centre racing action.