For one night only in July the city centre of Sheffield closes to cars but opens up a to an evening of professional criterium cycle racing. The event consists of both a women’s race followed by a men’s. The women’s race was the penultimate round of the British Cycling Womens National Road Race Series. For the men it was the climax of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Race Series. Before the action started I had walk round the course and spotted a number of the teams preparing for the night’s action. After a thorough inspection it was easy to tell who had the biggest bus – Madison Genesis. Would they provide the winning rider on the night too?
After securing our spot early we waited for the start of the Women’s Browns Sheffield Grand Prix. This pitched the newly crowned National Circuit Race Champion, Hannah Barnes, against the vastly experienced seven times National Cyclo-cross Champion, Helen Wyman. As well as having an excellent year as an individual Barnes was able to rely on her team MG Maxifuel for assistance. Wyman, riding for Kona Factory Team was going to have to look after herself.
After the presentations and the Cava fight it was on to the Men’s Claremont Sheffield Grand Prix. Doncaster’s Graham Briggs of Team Raleigh was hoping to regain his 2012 Sheffield Grand Prix title after a season beset by illness. In his way were a pair of local brothers in the form of Madison Genesis’ Dean Downing and the new National Circuit Race Champion Russell Downing of NetApp-Endura. Added to this was the Elite Circuit Race Series title was up for grabs. GB Academy’s George Atkins was leading going into the final race from Olympic gold medalist Ed Clancy. The Rapha Condor JTL team would be out in strength to get their man Clancy enough points to win.
So the team with the biggest bus did win! The podium became a local affair as the first three were all from South Yorkshire as Graham Briggs came in second and Russ Downing third. A ninth place for George Atkins ensured him enough points to be crowned the Series winner for 2013.