There's just five days to go till this year’s HTC Smithfield Nocturne, with some of the UK’s top riders taking a break from the Halfords Tour Series to race around the historic London meat market in the fourth edition of an annual event that has captured the imagination of London cycling fans.
Last year’s winner, Russ Downing, then riding for Candy.tv-Marshalls Pasta and now of course with Team Sky, won’t be there to defend his title, but with phone manufacturer HTC recently announced as headline sponsor, one of the HTC-Columbia team, Matt Goss, will be making an appearance.
What’s more, the 23-year-old Australian will be the man to beat due to a rich vein of form that has brought him two notable wins in the past month – the weekend before last, he won the biggest one-day race in the United States, the Philadelphia International Championships, finishing ahead of the rising star from Liquigas, Peter Sagan, and last month he won the bunch sprint to take Stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia from Frosinone to Cava de' Tirreni.
The young ProTour rider will, however, be riding without team-mates, which could make life difficult for him when faced with the likes of Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta, Endura Racing and Rapha-Condor-Sharp who have shown themselves over the past few weeks to be well-drilled squads when it comes to city centre crits.
There will also be a full team from Kuota-road.cc, including two riders who placed in the top ten last year, Flying Dutchman Jeroen Janssen and Jon Mozley, who respectively finished 7th and 9th 12 months ago.
The support programme, meanwhile, continues to grow, and as well as old favourites such as the folding bike race, this year there is the added feature of the course being thrown open during the afternoon for the London Festival of Architecture Family Ride, which takes place between 3pm and 4.30pm.
Hosted in association with the London Festival of Architecture Sky Rides, everyone taking part will get an exclusive high visibility pink bib, specially designed by the London Festival of Architecture.
There will also be a host of other cycling-themed attractions including Rollapaluza racing, a trackstand competition sponsored by Red Bull, and the Danish Cycling Federation's Children's Bicycle Workshops.
Full information on those activities, plus of course the racing programme including the main event, which starts at 9pm, can be found on the Smithfield Nocturne website.
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.