British national time-trial champion Alex Dowsett takes on Michael Hutchinson in a hotly-anticipated clash at the RTTC National 25 Mile Championship on Saturday.
It promises to be a close-run battle on the drag strip course around Yarm: Team Sky professional Dowsett is still getting back to full fitness from a broken elbow, while long-time domestic time trial dominator Hutchinson is showing no signs of slowing down.
Then there’s the third man, Matt Bottrill. In the best form of his career, he could run the pair close.
“I put in some good time-trials before racing the Tour of Luxembourg: it relies less on top-end fitness, whch I’m lacking a bit of,” Dowsett told CW. “Hopefully I can put out a strong ride.”
Racing 250 miles away to the north tomorrow, Dowsett is missing the chance to defend his IG London Nocturne title in pursuit of a first National 25 title.
“This was something I’ve wanted to do for a while now,” he said.
In the women’s competition, Julia Shaw (www.drag2zero.co.uk) is the firm favourite, while Ryan Mullen (Planet X) and Elinor Barker (Scott Contessa Epic RT) are leading contenders for junior success.
National 25 Mile Championships: Where and when
Date: Saturday June 9
Race HQ: Conyers School, Green Lane, Yarm, TS15 9ET
Race start: Juniors 12.45, Ladies 1pm, Men 3pm
National 25: Ones to watch
Alex Dowsett (Team Sky)
Start time: 5.35pm
Dowsett starts as favourite: he put 1-42 into Hutchinson over a slightly further distance on the way to taking a maiden British time-trial title last September. However, the long lay-off from a broken elbow, sustained in March, may leave him short of top form.
Michael Hutchinson (In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp RT)
Start time: 5.37pm
Unbeaten this year and coming off an impressive victory at the Hitchin Nomads CC 25 at the weekend, defending champion Hutchinson looks very sharp. He will have to be at his very best to beat Dowsett.
Matt Bottrill (www.drag2zero.co.uk)
Start time: 5.33pm
The eternal second of domestic testing may well be pushed down to the third rostrum of the podium by Dowsett. But recent form and performances suggest that the popular postman is closer to beating Hutchinson than ever before.
Richard Handley (Rapha-Condor-Sharp)
Start time: 5.21pm
A big British road racing talent and a recent winner of the prestigious Anfield 100, punchy, in-form Handley is a good outside bet for the podium.
Julia Shaw (Drag2Zero)
Start time: 2.00pm
A fortnight after she comfortably won the National 10, it’s hard to see past 46 year old Shaw adding a fifth title tomorrow.
National 25: Last year’s top ten
1. Michael Hutchinson (In Gear-Quickvit-Trainsharp RT) 53-36
2. Matthew Bottrill (I-Ride.co.uk) at 36secs
3. Andrew Griffiths (Twenty 3C-Orbea) at 48secs
4. Nicolas Hutchings (CS Grupetto) at 1-07
5. Wouter Sybrandy (Sigma Sport) at 1-26
6. Peter Tadros (In Gear-Quickvit-Trainsharp RT) at 1-37
7. Adam Duggleby (Science in Sport.com) at 1-45
8. Jeff Jones (Chippenham & District Wheelers) at 2-18
9. Richard Simmonds (The Altitude Centre) at 2-49
10. Pete Vincent (Mid Devon CC) at 2-58
1. Julia Shaw (www.Drag2Zero.com) 59-20
2. Chrissy Radon (Zappi’s Cycling Club) at 3-15
3. Jane Kilmartin (Cult Racing) at 4-49
4. Lynn Hamel (Herbalife-Wheelbase) at 5-04
5. Michelle King (Team Jewson MI Racing) at 5-09
6. Ciara Horne (Cult Racing) at 5-45
Ryan Mullen (Planet X) and Hannah Barnes (Motorpoint)
National 25: past winners
2011 Michael Hutchinson
2010 Michael Hutchinson
2009 Michael Hutchinson
2008 Michael Hutchinson
2007 Jason MacIntyre
2006 Jason MacIntyre
2005 Michael Hutchinson
2004 Stuart Dangerfield
2003 Stuart Dangerfield
2002 Stuart Dangerfield
2011 Julia Shaw
2010 Julia Shaw
2009 Julia Shaw
2008 Sharon Laws
2007 Julia Shaw
2006 Wendy Houvenaghel
2005 Wendy Houvenaghel
2004 Vicky Pincombe
2003 Frances Newstead
2002 Claire Cook