PREVIEW: National Circuit Championships

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THE first national honours will be decided this Sunday when riders head to Northamptonshire for the National Circuit Championships.

Riders will compete over three laps of the rural course, which includes technical sections, making up 32.5 miles.

The event also doubles up as the fifth round of the Merlin Cycles Classic Series which continues to hot up.

Last year’s championship took place in October during a Covid-19 enforced reduced season and was won by John Archibald (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) and Emily Meakin (The Independent Pedaler – Nopinz) in the men’s and women’s events.

Both riders are absent on Sunday, but a host of riders will be eager to take their crowns.

Alex Clay (The Independent Pedaler – Nopinz) finished second last season in the women’s event but has only competed once this season winning the Medway Velo Club 10 last month in 22-05.

Last season Clay finished just seven seconds faster than Hayley Simmonds (CAMS Racing) who starts as scratch rider on Sunday.

Veteran Angela Carpenter (…a3crg) is also targeting honours and clocked 21-06 in the VTTA London & Home Counties 10 last month.

Simmonds showed her form last weekend missing the 15-mile competition record by just three seconds in the Cambridge CC 15 with a time of 29-51.

“I’m really looking forward to starting my nationals campaign,” said Simmonds, from Barr Hill in Cambridge.

“Last weekend was my first time trial of the year on a time trial bike due to other events being postponed due to bad weather.

“The course (in the Cambridge CC 15) was quite wind dependent as it was nine miles in one direction and six in the other.

“The wind was the opposite to the prevailing wind that the course wants. So I was pleased to be so close and having to start myself.

“I took a lot of positives from it, my legs felt good, I feel really dialled in at the moment and physically in very good form.

“I’m doing my best ever numbers so I’m really excited for Sunday.”

Simon Wilson

Simmonds has previously won the Circuit Championships in 2017 along with the National 25 and Hill Climb Championships.

“I’ve been a full-time cyclist for four or five years now but I’ve had a pretty full road programme each year,” added Simmonds.

“This year there isn’t many road races in the UK and getting over to Europe is quite difficult with the Covid restrictions.

“So I am able to do more time trials.”

Christopher Fennell (The Independent Pedaler – Nopinz) finished second in last season’s National Circuit, Closed Circuit and 10-mile Championships.

The 25-year-old has had an unbeaten start to the season winning five events, with four of those coming last month.

All the wins have come over 10 miles with the quickest coming in the Catford CC 10 (18-05).

Simon Wilson (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) starts a minute before Fennell after showing his form in last month’s West Pennine RC 10 clocking 18-04 and also won the Stockton Whs 23 over a sporting course in 46-59.

Competition could also come from Wilson’s Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team-mate Dan Bigham who won the last round of the Merlin Cycles Classic Time Trial Series over 28 miles in 1-00-08.

Michael Gill (AeroLab Ward WheelZ) could also be targeting victory with some impressive riders so far this season taking a hat-trick of wins, his latest coming with a 18-26 in the Zeus CRT 10.

Further competition could come from Ashley Cox (Team Bottrill) and under-23 rider George Peden (Team PB Performance) amongst others.

The road bike category could be a battle of the hill climbers with Adam Kenway (Team Brother UK) and Andy Nichols (Team Lifting Gear Products/Cycles In Motion) both going for honours.

Fellow climber Rebecca Richardson (Team Brother UK) starts as last woman.

The junior category will see Joshua Tarling (Flanders Color Galloo Team) start as last boy but he will face some tough competition.

Harry Jukes (Mid Devon CC) will be one of those juniors looking for honours after clocking 53-50 in the North Devon Wheelers sporting 22 recently.

Meanwhile, reigning champion Eva Callinan (Liv AWOL) starts as last female junior and recently finished the Shaftesbury 25 in 55-27.

However, multi-discipline national champion and cyclo-cross World Cup winner Zoe Backstedt (Team Backstedt Bike Performance) will provide a tough challenge.

* All reports are copyright of Cycling Time Trials/Snowdon Sports. Not to be used without permission.