Smithfield Nocturne: Top Brits take on Swift hot from the Giro

Elite racing, folding action and courier skids promised for Saturday night

by Tony Farrelly   June 4, 2009  

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This Saturday's Smithfield Nocturne promises a night of top class racing and cycling excitement with a top class field of British riders, taking on Ben Swift, Team Katusha's young star just back from the Giro. And there will be an appearance by cycling legend, Johan Museeuw.

All the big domestic squads will be there for the central London event, including an on-form National Criterium Champion Dean Downing and his Rapha Condor team, as well as Ed Clancy and Rob Hayles from Halfords and teams from Madison.co.uk and CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta.

Hot on the heels of last weeks emphatic victory in the Edinburgh Nocturne by Garmin’s David Millar, Ben Swift is the latest rider to put his post-Giro fitness to good use on home soil at a Nocturne.

The Katusha rider, who is still only 21, had seven top-ten finishes in the Giro, coming third behind Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish in stage two, and hopes to have a similar effect on this Saturday’s field as Millar and team mate Cameron Meyer did last week.

While Swift is just starting to make a name for himself a man who has done just that, cycling legend Johan Museeuw, The Lion of Flanders, will also be there on Saturday night. Museeuw will be Rapha’s guest of honour.

The Lion of Flanders retired in 2003 and last raced in the UK in 1996 when he came third in the Leeds Classic, will be joined by Geraint Thomas, winner of last year’s Nocturne, at the event which begins at 6 pm.

Smithfield Saturday night specials

The Smithfield Nocturne also features two aspects of cycling competition unique to the Capital.
The Smithfield Nocturne Folding Bike Race is now in its third year, and has spawned a raft of imitators both at home and abroad although the Nocturne organisers reckon that Smithfield remains the original and best. It’s also the most hotly contested with teams travelling from as far away as Spain to take on the Capital’s commuters.

In a Le Mans-style start, competitors, dressed in business suits, will start 30m away from their folded bikes and at the drop of the chequered flag run to their steeds building them as fast as they can before setting off on a 5 lap dash. In true commuter spirit, winner takes all - there’s no second chance when it comes to catching your train! Expect fierce competition, barging and even a little cheating as commuters race to prove their skills.

The Smithfield Nocturne Fixie Skid Competition pays homage to that other great London cycling institution – cycle couriers riding fixed wheeled bikes. Regarded as the Spitfire pilots of the London cycling scene, couriers are loved and loathed in equal measure but no one denies their bike handling skills as they weave their customised bikes through the Capital’s traffic.

A race like no other with strictly no brakes allowed, the Fixie Skid will feature city couriers attempting to perform the longest back-wheel lock to skid their wheel for as long as possible, giving the crowd erm, all-stop fixie action.

The Smithfield Nocturne is free to watch and takes place around Smithfield Market between 6pm and 10pm on Saturday 6th June – www.smithfieldnocturne.com