Many of Britain’s top male and female road cyclists will descend on South Wales later this month when Abergavenny hosts the 2014 National Road Championships. Stars appearing include defending champions Mark Cavendish and Lizzie Armitstead in the road races, and Alex Dowsett and Joanna Rowsell in the time trial.
Last year in Glasgow and Ayrshire, the championships combined the time trials and road races for the first time, a format that will be repeated in Monmouthshire this year.
Wiggins & Sky in action
The time trial takes place on Thursday 26 June, starting and finishing at Celtic Manor, and the road race, on a circuit that begins and ends in Abergavenny town centre, on Sunday 29 June – the weekend before the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.
Sir Bradley Wiggins, national road champion in 2011, looks unlikely to make Team Sky’s line-up for the Tour, but will be among riders racing in Monmouthshire, together with team-mates Geraint Thomas, another past winner, and Peter Kennaugh.
Abergavenny hosted the championships in 2009, the last time the men’s road race was won by a rider from outside a WorldTour team. Rapha Condor’s Kristian House won a four-man sprint against Chris Froome, Daniel Lloyd and Kennaugh.
Afterwards Cavendish, who finished sixth, accused House of not having done his share of work in the break, something the winner disputed.
Five years on, House returns to the scene of his triumph as one of the leading domestic riders looking to beat the odds, with other hopefuls including Welshman Yanto Barker of Team Raleigh, currently leading the British Cycling Elite Road Series.
Armistead looks for third title
In the women’s road race, Boels-Dolmans rider Armitstead is seeking her third national title, with rivals including Giant-Shimano’s Lucy Garner, Laura Trott of Wiggle Honda, and UnitedHealthcare’s Hannah Barnes.
Movistar’s Alex Dowsett is aiming for his fourth successive national time trial championship – he wore the red, white and blue jersey while claiming a stage win against the clock in last year’s Giro d’Italia.
Millar's last chance
Olympic champion Wiggins will be looking to regain the title, while others in the mix are likely to include his Sky team mate Thomas and Garmin-Sharp’s David Millar, riding his final season and hoping to fine-tune his time trialling form before defending his Commonwealth crown in Glasgow a little over a month later.
Rowsell, meanwhile, faces a challenge in retaining her title from riders such as Armitstead, as well as the Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International pair of Katie Archibald and Dame Sarah Storey.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.