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Michael Hutchinson (API-Metrow) will want to add the 25 title to his list of palmares this weekend. In what is becomming an annual two horse race many of the road race stars have decided to give it a miss.

The defending champion Stuart Dangerfield (Science in Sport) is last man off and he has had the better of Hutch in the past five years. It’s a full field of 150 riders for the Port Talbot Wheelers promotion at Glynneath, Gwent. And the start isn’t silly-early so you could get down there to see the stars…

Local boy Julian Winn, the former British road race champion, set the course record of 48min 57sec three years ago in the Welsh championship so expect some pretty fast times as the day progresses. Sadly Graeme Obree will not be riding following a crash in the National 10 a couple of weeks ago.

So it’s hard to see who else could challenge, perhaps Matt Botrill. However RCUK tips super fast Zak Carr for another medal and if he has a good day it could be gold.

As the event organiser’s notes say:
With no less than four riders with sub-50 minute rides to their name and another two with short 50’s then the top six would appear to be a safe bet as to where the 1-2-3 might come from but there’s another seven guys with sub-51’s who might like to spoil the script. Personally, I’m glad that the traditional courtesy of despatching the defending Champion off last means that I don’t have to make the decision of where to rank Stuart Dangerfield (Science in Sport) against Michael Hutchinson (API Metrow) and Zak Carr (Team Clean) who are both in fine form at time of writing (mid-May).

But having won the National 25 for the past five years then Stuart will be giving it everything to do a ‘Lance’ although Stuart has, of course, already become a six-shooter by also winning in 1997. Equally, ‘Hutch’ will be looking to step up from second place and Michael will have good memories of the area from his fine National 10 win back in 2002.

Amazingly, apart from Stuart Dangerfield then the last National 25 winner riding the 2005 event is the evergreen John Pritchard (Leo RC) who won the event back in 1988. However, his son Ceri Pritchard (Stourbridge CC) has a more realistic chance of causing an upset on the podium and Ceri is certainly the man who will get the local supporters cheering him on.

If the individual 1-2-3 is tough to call then have a go at guessing who will win the Team award. No less than 8 teams have three or more riders in the top half of the field but I’m sticking my neck out and going for Leo RC with Richard Bradley, Charles McCulloch and John Pritchard followed by Stourbridge CC and Science in Sport.

The national women’s and junior championships will be decided over the same course tomorrow, and it looks to be a slightly closer affair especially in the Women’s race. With the 2004 winner, Vicky Pincombe, absent then Wendy Houvenaghel (Bike Chain/Ricci Ltd) is the No.1 ranked rider and Wendy will be following talented triathlete Julie Dibens (Total Fitness Bath) and the in-form Michelle Brown (Bush Healthcare) down the course with Wendy Hall (Port Talbot Whs) and Brenda Pennell (Raleigh-ERV) both trying to upset the seeding and get on the podium. But even beyond these five there are some top quality riders in with a chance of a podium place with talented roadies, BAR champions and record-breaking End-to-End riders all trying to make their mark on the race.

In the Juniors Alex Dowsett looks firm favourite. He is incredibly strong for a 16 year old and looks set for a career on the continent. Recording a 22-08 around Eastway at Easter (only 23 seconds off Ray Eden’s course record) he’s flying for the Glendene Junior uber-squad.

• Organising clube website here

• Race details here

• Cycling Time Trials website here


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