Tomorrow, the streets around London’s historic Smithfield meat market will be thronged with cycling fans enjoying what has now become an annual festival of bike racing through city streets usually deserted at the weekend, with the IG Markets London Nocturne. While most of those fans will have made a short trip across the capital, competitors in the Penny Farthing race have come from further afield – they’ve spent the last week riding their bikes more than 400 miles from Paris.
It’s more than a century since a Penny Farthing road race last took place in the British capital, and tomorrow’s race for the Brooks Ordinary Trophy has a truly international flavour, attracting entrants from Canada, the United States and Ireland. Yesterday, they hit the British capital, marking their arrival with a procession over Tower Bridge.
Now in its fifth year, the event formerly known as the Smithfield Nocturne may have changed its name and gained new sponsorship, but again it will see some top talent from Britain and elsewhere fight it out in the hour-long elite criterium that brings it to a close.
This year, the field for that race is stronger than ever, with teams familiar from the Halfords Tour Series joined by six riders from the top level of the sport – Garmin-Cervelo’s Cameron Meyer and Matt Wilson, HTC-Highroad’s Leigh Howard and Matt Brammeier, and Team Sky’s Alex Dowsett and Russ Downing, the latter a past winner of the event in 2009 when riding for CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta.
A full supporting schedule includes the Kansi Folding Bike Race, the Schwalbe Longest Skid Competition, the IG Markets Team Challenge and an Elite Women’s Criterium – full details can be found on the event website – and for the first time it will also be shown on TV, with Sky Sports providing a highlights package next Friday evening at 7pm.
Event founder James Pope said: “It was amazing to see the Penny’s ride across the bridge today; we are thrilled that riders from all over the world have made the journey to be a part of the IG Markets London Nocturne.
“The event has gone from strength to strength since its inception and we expect 2011 to be our biggest and best year yet. The event has a reputation for being the most exciting and diverse urban cycling experience on the planet so make sure you come down to Smithfield on Saturday. We’re aiming to offer London the ultimate in two-wheeled entertainment as riders from the World Tour take part alongside commuters and recreational cyclists.”
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.