The national road race championships provided a further indication of the depth of talent in British cycle sport.
Six Team Sky riders lined up alongside British luminaries from professional cycling’s elite UCI WorldTour in the men’s road race, while a similar scenario unfolded in the women’s event, where UCI World Cup riders decided the outcome.
At the end of four days of racing, Britain has four senior champions to be proud of: riders capable of holding their own on the world stage.
Here are five observations from the 2013 British road race championships.
Cavendish hungry for red, white, and blue
With the maillot vert, the maglia rosso, and the rainbow stripes already occupying space in his wardrobe, it was possible to wonder how motivated Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) would be to add the red, white, and blue bands of national champion to his collection. The answer was very. All of British cycling shares in Cavendish’s victory. Having the national champion’s jersey on the back of the world’s fastest rider is a fantastic endorsement for British cycle sport.
No abdication for Queen Elizabeth
Lizzie Armitstead remained head of state in what is increasingly regarded as a golden era for women’s cycle sport in this country. A world class competitor, one whose performance in winning the home nation’s first medal of last year’s Olympic Games changed the perception of her sport in the eyes of millions, Armitstead is, like Cavendish, a champion to be proud of. She was forced to defend her realm by repelling assaults from the queens of a separate empire (more of whom below) but emerged victorious. The Queen is not dead.
Three-in-a-row for Dowsett
Alex Dowsett’s career-best season continued with a third consecutive victory in the national time trial championships, offering an impressive constant in a year that has brought two significant changes. His closed-season move from Team Sky to the Spanish Movistar squad has proven to be the right decision, and he has gained membership of an exclusive club of British winners of a Grand Tour stage. The latter would have placed a weight of expectation upon his shoulders as he rolled out in East Ayrshire, but a modus operandi of approaching every time trial with the same commitment, from the Maldon ‘club 10’ to a Grand Tour, continued to pay dividends.
‘Trackies’ hit the road
Great Britain’s golden team pursuit trio of Dani King, Joanna Rowsell, and Laura Trott (Wiggle-Honda) took a further significant step in the transformation to road riders at the national championships.
Rowsell won the elite women’s time trial, and fellow gold medalists, Laura Trott and Dani King, were the last of the Wiggle-Hondas to carry the fight to Armitstead, with Trott collecting the national under-23 title in the process.
These are still very early days in the road careers of the world’s best team pursuit squad, but the signs are very encouraging.
Britain’s got talent – so why wasn’t it on television?
Twitter and the British Cycling website proved to be the most effective source of information on Sunday afternoon, and while credit is due to those who relayed events from Glasgow (Brian Smith, especially), it was unsatisfactory not to broadcast a national championship on live TV. Britain does have talent, and it would be nice to see it showcased in a live television broadcast. The highlights can be found on ITV4.