World-class city-centre cycling comes to the City of London on June 7 when the Smithfield Nocturne hosts a cycling showdown between the UK’s leading pro teams.

Now part of the British Cycling National Circuit Series, the Smithfield Nocturne elite criterium will be the second race in this year?s competition, featuring the leading UK teams and individuals racing on a closed 1 km circuit for one hour plus five laps.

Revenge will be in the minds of the Rapha-Condor-Recycling team following victory in last years? inaugural race by Plowman Craven?s James McCallum, the current National Criterium Champion. The scene is set for a head to head clash between these two British super teams, with both the men in black and the men in pink entering their top names.

Lining up for Rapha-Condor-Recycling will be Olympic silver medallist Chris Newton, only recently returned to racing after injury. Newton will be joined by team mates Kristian House and last year?s runner up Dean Downing, keen to go one better this time in an event supported by his Team?s sponsor.

?The Nocturne is a great race and effectively our Team?s home race since it?s presented by Rapha Condor,? said Downing. ?I?m keen to win, and I definitely think we?re the in-form team this year. We?ve already beaten Plowman Craven in the opening race of the series and I also won the opening road race of the season so they?ll have their work cut out!?

Among the Rapha-Condor-Recycling line up will be Graham Briggs who took the first scalp of the season in the contest between the teams when he won the Hillingdon GP circuit race last week. Briggs?s early form will be crucial against the strength of the Plowman Craven squad, but Rapha are unlikely to win without a fight.

Despite recent surgery to his shoulder, Commonwealth Games medalist and current National Criterium Champion McCallum is planning to defend his title and he?ll be bringing some quality team mates to help him. Plowman Craven dominated circuit racing last season, winning both the individual and team honours in the National Series: Simon Gaywood, a former National Series winner who took three races in last years? competition will be joined at the Nocturne by Tony Gibb who only lost to Briggs by a matter of inches in the opening round.

?We?re going to repeat our win of last year,? exclaimed a typically forthright McCallum. ?Things may be going Rapha?s way on the road at the moment, but closed circuits are our territory and we mean it to stay that way.?

While the big teams posture and debate which of them will win, the nature of circuit racing means that good individual riders can always steal victory from the bigger squads. Look out for Rob Hayles of Team Halfords Bikehut, a former National, World?s and Olympic medallist, and a potential Great Britain team member in Beijing later this year. As Voltaire said, battles aren?t won by the big battalions but by the best shots…

The Elite Criterium will be part of a packed programme including races such as the Halfords Cycle 2 Work Folding Bike Race, Cycling Weekly Support Race, City of London Team Challenge and the Inter Schools Roller Race Competition.

Full details of the Smithfield Nocturne can be found at www.smithfieldncoturne.com.

Photo by Mike King

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