Multiple Olympic medallist Rob Hayles and RaphaCondor team leader Dean Downing are the first elite riders confirmed for the Smithfield Nocturne, which takes place in London on Saturday evening, June 23rd. The pair will line up alongside guest riders from ProTour teams and other top national riders for the criterium, which will be raced over one hour plus five laps around Smithfield Market.
"I've never been to that part of London so I don't know much about the circuit," said Hayles. "I've seen the map and it looks like the rider's technical abilities and equipment are going to be tested to the max!"
"The course certainly looks a bit tight," Downing agreed. "But that's what crit racing is about - what Rob and I would call 'real' crit racing anyway!
"There are a couple of long straights. That will give the opportunity to put some power down. I think Rob will be the danger man though; he seems to go round corners like he is on rails."
Downing will be under pressure to win, as he is representing the team of one of the race's sponsors. "I love riding crits especially the nocturnes," he said. "Crit racing is really special, a real crowd pleaser and the Smithfield event is shaping up to be one of the best of the year."
Hayles was also looking forward to racing in the British capital: "It's fantastic that an event like this will be held in the centre of London. With two weeks before the Tour it will provide an interesting taster for many Londoners who know nothing about cycling."
The Smithfield Nocturne will have a London feel with commuters invited to sign up for the 'Le Mans' start folding bike race, Smiths of Smithfield providing a meat feast in the hospitality areas and London couriers fighting it out for the bragging rights of the best messengers in all of London in the messenger race.
The event is free to watch and will take place between 5pm and 10pm on Saturday June 23rd.
More information: www.smithfieldnocturne.com.