On mornings during the week, the area is buzzing with porters from the historic meat market finishing their working shifts, while employees in the neighbouring media and design studios arrive to start theirs, but today the buzz around London’s Smithfield market is very much focused on two wheels as it plays host to the fourth edition of the HTC Smithfield Nocturne.
The field for tonight’s main event, for which mobile handset manufacturer HTC is acting as title sponsor for the first time this year, is headed by HTC-Columbia’s Matt Goss, and the intriguing news to come out of Smithfield this morning is that he won’t be the only rider from the ProTour outfit making an appearance.
We’re choosing our words carefully here – this morning’s post on Twitter from organisers Face Partnership says simply “Matt Goss won't be the only be the only HTC Columbia rider at the Nocturne tonight,” which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re riding it – but with Mark Cavendish having abandoned the Tour of Switzerland earlier this week due to the road rash he received during Tuesday’s stage, an hour-long criterium might be just the ticket to keep his legs spinning ahead of next weekend’s National Road Race Championships.
Whoever the other HTC-Columbia rider is, he and Goss will be joining some of the top British teams that have been honing their city-centre racing skills in recent weeks during the Halfords Tour Series, and one team that will be looking to make its mark is Rapha-Condor-Sharp, whose sponsors are closely involved with the event, without yet seeing one of their riders cross the line ahead of the field.
As in previous years, there will be a host of support events – full details are available on the Smithfield Nocturne website – including a London Festival of Architecture Skyride, aimed at families, from 3pm to 4.30pm, a Danish Children’s Bike Workshop, and extracts from Roland Smith’s play Pedal Pushers, which follows Lance Armstrong, Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich’s exploits in the Tour de France and was reviewed here on road.cc last year.
Old favourites such as the folding bike race are back, but one new event is the Laverstoke Park Ice Cream Race. The race is named after the organic farm in Hampshire owned by 1979 Formula 1 World Champion Jody Scheckter, and will see riders, including the South African-born racing car driver himself, race on ice-cream bikes specially adapted by the Mercedes F1 team, with competitors having to stop and sell ice-creams on their way round the circuit.
Scheckter said: “I am looking forward to seeing and riding the bikes The Mercedes F1 team adapted especially for Laverstoke’s ice-creams being raced on the Smithfield’s Nocturne circuit by Olympic Medalists, Ben Saunders Polar Explorer, as well as myself – The added twist of the competitors having to sell ice creams en-route will make it all the more entertaining!”
Racing takes place between 5.30pm and 10pm, with the main Elite race scheduled to get under way at 9pm.
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.