Before the Tour of Britain came to the UK, stage racing was in a bad way. That was until the Surrey League started organising their now legendary five day.
The 8th annual Evans Cycles – Surrey League 5 day cycle race starts on Friday, with 6 stages in Surrey and Sussex. It’s usually a keenly contested affair with UK riders using it as their chance for some experience of stage racing. And with around 80 of Britain’s top riders taking part in the gruelling 5 day long race all helps to make the racing fast and furious. Each day they will cover around 100 miles – as well as climbing some of the steepest hills in South East England. Previous winners of the race are a classy bunch, including; Barrie Clarke, Chris Lillywhite, Gethin Butler, Gordon McCauley, Kristian House, Paddy Moriarty and Paul Griffin.
This year’s route revisits some of the favourite(?!) spots from previous years such as the South Downs at Goodwood and the Ashdown Forest. Which all sounds suitably painful. Some great chances to see the race though. Organiser Keith Butler, a tough ex-pro himself, always has a few surprises for the riders and he certainly knows how to make them suffer…
Key riders on the start list include:
Brian Kenneally, Paul Griffin and Tim Barry (Ireland)
Gary Dodd (Sigma)
Justin Hoy (Evans RT)
Danny Axford (Parrot Print RT)
Paul Griffin came out top in 2003 and has a good chance again with a strong Irish team travelling to Surrey this year. Evans and Sigma also have strong line ups, so it could be a tactical and exciting race. Look out for the Parrot Print squad too as they have a good chance for the overall with Danny Axford and strong riders supporting him.
Further details and maps at www.surreyleague.co.uk
Day 1 – Friday 13 August, involves a 101 mile long course around Chobham Common in Surrey.
Day 2– Saturday 14 August, involves a 99.8 mile long series of courses around Newdigate, between Dorking and Crawley.
Day 3– Sunday 15 August, starts with a time trial around Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit. This will be followed by a race of seven gruelling laps on the South Downs and finishes with five laps on the motor racing circuit.
Day 4 – Monday 16 August, sees racing based at Daneshill in East Sussex, for the first time. With long dragging climbs and fast descents, the riders will complete 98 miles in the day.
Day 5 – Tuesday 17 August, is based at Crowborough and involves some of the toughest hills to be faced by the riders. It includes three circuits involving the climb of the dreaded ‘Wall’ – just one of three tough climbs to be encountered on the edge of the Ashdown Forest.