The Halfords Tour Series kicks off tomorrow at Canary Wharf, London, with the first in a series of 10 urban road races featuring 50 of the UK's top pro cyclists.
Ten teams will race around a 1km circuit centred on Cabot Square and Canada Place, and organisers are promising "one hour of fast-paced and attacking racing, with plenty of thrills and spills".
Home team Rapha – Condor – Sharp have to be among the favourites, with a strong line-up of British champion Kristian House, Graham Briggs, Zak Dempster, and top sprinters Dean Windsor and Dean Downing, with 2009 Chester round winner Darren Lapthorne named as reserve.
Lining up against the ‘Men in Black’ will be world champion Ed Clancy’s Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta team, including fellow Beijing Olympic medallist Steven Burke, and the Endura Racing squad, headed by former world champion and Olympic medallist Rob Hayles and New Zealand national champion Jack Bauer.
Former British champion Matt Stephens leads the Sigma Sport – Specialized team, who include top sprinter Stephen Adams, while Kuota – Road.cc have the double Dutch attack of Jeroen Janssen and former international speed skater Jefte de Bruin.
The riders of CyclePremier.com – Metaltek have proved to be in excellent form in recent weeks, making the team led by former Commonwealth Games and World Track Championship medallist Tony Gibb potential winners of the first round.
Team Corley Cycles and Pendragon – Le Col – Colnago have fast men Simon Gaywood and Chris Opie in their respective squads, with Team Raleigh and Team Ireland rounding out the line-up.
“Canary Wharf is a fantastic venue for our showpiece curtain raiser of the 2010 Halfords Tour Series ... [and] the beginning of five action-packed weeks of top-class professional town and city centre racing,” said Tour Series technical director Mick Bennett.
“We have a fantastic variety of circuits to challenge the riders over the coming 10 events, so whoever are crowned the champions after round 10 in Woking will definitely have earned their places on the podium.”
The Canary Wharf round starts at 7pm tomorrow. It'll be preceded by entertainment from the London Community Gospel Choir, Solid Steel Ambassadors steel drum band and cheerleaders from Pineapple Studios, from 4pm, and the Canary Wharf Corporate Grand Prix featuring some of London's leading companies, from 6pm. Highlights of every Tour Series round will be shown the following evening on ITV4.
- Round 1: 25 May, Canary Wharf
- Round 2: 27 May, Durham
- Round 3: 1 June, Portsmouth
- Round 4: 3 June, Exeter
- Round 5: 8June, Southport
- Round 6: 10 June, Kettering
- Round 7: 15 June, Stoke-on-Trent
- Round 8: 17 June, Peterborough
- Round 9: 21 June, Chester
- Round 10: 24 June, Woking