Some 10,000 people are due in the City of London on Saturday (9) to watch the 2012 London IG Nocturne.
An elite women’s criterium has been reinstated by popular demand and multiple Paralympic champion, Sarah Storey (Escentual for Viored), will be among a top flight field of female riders nearly 70 strong.
Storey, who won two Paralympic cycling gold medals at Beijing in 2008, and looks set to represent Team GB at the Paralympic Games in London this summer, said she would perform whatever role her team required of her on Saturday.
“The team will have a job for me to do. I’ll be working as hard as I can in that role whether that’s as a protected rider or the Ian Stannard-type rider on the front all the time! Whatever my role, I’ll be looking forward to putting 100 per cent in that and hopefully getting a great result for the team,” she said.
Nearly 70 riders will contest the Rapha elite women’s criterium, including former winner, Hannah Barnes (Team Ibis Cycles). Storey’s Escentual for Viored team will field an international, nine-strong squad, with a mix of youth and experience.
“We’ve got a mixture of younger riders who are developing and have been riding at national events, and some bigger names in there as well. It’s really good for us to mix in the younger riders to bring them along.
“We’ve also got riders like Alex Greenfield who rode for Great Britain not so many years ago. I have learned things from girls like Alex when we rode together as younger riders. It’s fantastic for us all to be on the same start sheet and with Rapha being the sponsor as well [the race sponsor is also clothing supplier to Escentual for Viored] it works together really nicely.”
Storey praised the strength of the field, and identified former winner Barnes as “one to watch”.
“It’s a real international field. There’s so much quality in there, it will be a hard race to control. We’ll have to keep our wits about us!” she said.
Saturday’s 30 minutes plus three lap would fit ‘somewhere in the middle’ of her programme of elite women’s road and stage races, and the Paralympic road race, Storey said.
She described the growing popularity of cycling in the UK as a “fantastic progression”, from when she joined the sport in 2005 after winning five gold, eight silver, and three bronze Paralympic medals in the swimming pool. Bradley Wiggins’ current success in the Criterium du Dauphine and last Monday’s Great Manchester Cycle, which attracted 7,000 riders, were two recent examples of a the sport’s popularity.
“Hopefully on the competitive side, it will continue to grow, and if 10,000 people are due to watch us on Saturday, other cities will do something and it will become the norm for people to go and watch bike racing in the city centre on a Saturday night,” she said.