Time trialling is an essential part of cycling in Great Britain.
Back in the dim and distant early years of the sport the National Cycling Union (as was) banned bunched road racing, as it was feared this could bring the reputation of cycling into disrepute. The NCU wanted to move racing to closed circuits and velodromes.
Time trials became the only way to circumvent these rules. Riders would race the clock and, by extension, each other without breaking the NCU regulations and races would be held at ‘secret’ locations with the minimum of fuss to avoid unwanted attention. Even now time trials are held on quiet roads and often as early as possible on a Sunday morning, although that is more to do with rider & marshal safety than secrecy these days.
The legacy of British time trialling can be seen in the competition calendar: at the time of writing there are 128 competitive road events planned in Scotland, of which 69 are time trials of some kind. This number does not include the dozens and dozens of confined time trials organized by cycling clubs for their members. The CTT (Cycling Time Trials) is the national governing body for time trialling in England & Wales and their website lists hundreds (if not thousands) of open and confined TTs on English and Welsh roads. it’s hard to imagine the current level of British cycling success without considering the time trialling and the role it has played in British cycling history.
Championships are held each year to determine the fastest riders over 10, 25, 50 and 100 miles as well as duration-based trials such as 12 and 24 hours. But the BC National Championships will determine who will be the best British time trialler and for the coming year they will don the national jersey when competing in any road-based time trial competition.
Alex Dowsett in full flow wearing the national jersey
(Image from Eurosport)
The women and under 23s have two loops of 17.5km to cover, while the elite man have two loops of 24.6km. Both routes start and finish in the Ayrshire town of Stewarton and the roads around here roll nice and easy. It’s not flat and there’s a bit of a rise out of the start/finish area before gradually losing some height down to the bottom of the course. The turn means slowly rising back up to Stewarton, but we are not talking about hilly time trial material! The roads are quite exposed for most of the course, so wind could play a role in determining who performs well. Prevailing winds means there is likely to be a bit of headwind for the early part of the race, with a tailwind pushing the riders back to the finish line, but I don’t work for the Met Office.
The Under-23 race will see last year’s winner Sam Harrison defending his title. Sam rode a club 25 mile TT recently and tweeted he hoped he wouldn’t be riding a 25 any time soon as it is #toolong. Lucky for him this race is about 22 miles! Sam will face stiff competition from George Atkins who already has two silver medals in the race: can he go one better this year? Joe Perret will be sure to gatecrash everyone’s party following his win in the CTT 25m champs. Local lads Duncan Ewing & Finlay Young will be hoping to make an impression in this race.
The women’s race has been dominated in recent years by Emma Pooley & Wendy Houvenaghel, neither is racing on the 20th. Julia Shaw will be hoping to improve on recent second places by taking the top spot for the second time in her career. She has shown good form this season and is the current CTT champion for the 10&25 mile events. A whole host of Olympic medal winners will be trying to take the jersey, including Lizzie Armitstead & Laura Trott. Hannah Barnes will aim to continue her good run of form, after her did-she-didn’t-she drama at the London Nocturne (she did!) And Jay Burgess is top of the best local representation at the moment, coming in hot from her recent victories in the Scottish 10&25m champs.
The men’s race has been won by Alex Dowsett for two years now. He showed in the Giro, where he won the first individual TT, that he continues to time trial well since leaving Sky for the Spanish Movistar team. He will surely be favourite to make it three in a row. Former teammates Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome who are both strong time triallers will not race this year. Former winner Michael Hutchinson also misses out. Matt Bottril has climbed on to the podium in several occasions through the years, but will do his best to make it on to the top step for the first time. Local representation is once again high in this race, with Ian Grant and Ben Peacock both showing good form recently, winning the Scottish 25m and 10m champs respectively.