Dan Monaghan, star photographer and provider of the cover image for Conquista issue 11, was in Stockton-on-Tees yesterday to see Alex Dowsett of Movistar became British National Time Trial Champion for the fifth time in six years (it took no less a rider than Sir Bradley Wiggins to beat him in 2014). You can see Dan's pictures by clicking the link above.
It was a dominant performance from Dowsett, who finished 1'15" ahead of second-placed James Gullen of Pedal Heaven. Ryan Perry of Langdale Leightweights was third, just under a minute further back.
This represents a major boost to Dowsett's chances of appearing in the British champion's jersey in the ITTs at this year's Tour de France, which starts on Saturday 2nd July.
However, this week's UK nationals are perhaps most noteworthy for the large number of withdrawals. Ed Bradbury, Owain Doull, Steven Burke, George Atkins, Mark Christian and Dan McLay were listed as non-starters in the men's TT, and Dani King and Amy Roberts both failed to make the start line for the women's race. What's more, Team Sky have withdrawn Ben Swift, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard from Sunday's road race too.
It might fairly be asked why this is. Of course, it is possible that the male TT riders were simply dispirited by the prospect of being beaten hollow by Dowsett - again. And after the events of the last few days, it may be that Dani King is finding it hard to concentrate.
Or . . . perhaps everyone just took a look at the prize money on offer and realised it wasn't worth bothering. Here are the amounts paid for the top ten places in each of the three TT races (men's & women's elite and men's U23 categories), according to British Cycling's Technical Manual.
Your eyes do not deceive you. The total prize fund for each race is a pathetic £1020. And the country's tenth best time triallist in each class will take home exactly thirty pounds. Thirty quid.
The sponsors of the UK's national TT races are a local firm of solicitors, two Stockton-on-Tees car dealerships and a housing association group. With the greatest of respect to these doubtless estimable partners, one cannot help but feel that British Cycling, with all its commercial relationships inside and outside cycling, could have been a bit more ambitious. Maybe then some of the better known riders would attend the event . . . raising its profile . . . making it more attractive to sponsors and broadcasters . . . improving the prize money . . . meaning better known riders would attend the event . . . and so on. But there's probably a rule against that sort of thing.
Conquista will be attending Sunday's road races: look out for another report in a few days' time.
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