If you were lost in Northumberland on Sunday and passed within 20 miles of the village of Stamfordham you might have wondered what the hell was going on. The roads were lined with hundreds of abandoned cars and crowds in the thousands stood screaming on the verges, as the best road racers in Britain tore round the country roads of this northern outpost.
Over 150 male riders were competing in the National Elite Road Racing Championships, flying around the main 22.3 mile circuit in not much over 45 minutes a lap and notching up a total distance of 122.5 miles in just 4 hours and 41 minutes for Britain’s new National Champion, Bradley Wiggins.
Team Sky Pro cycling dominated from the start, an early break of 12 riders, included 6 from team Sky Pro Cycling. By the half way mark the lead break was just three riders, Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh, all three sky riders. The Sky trio quickly established a lead of almost 3 minutes on the next bunch, whilst the main peloton, which included HTC Highroad’s Mark Cavendish, were left languishing 7 or 8 minutes off the pace.
And the weather brought the crowds in the thousands, scenes more like that of the Tour De France than cycling in Britain. The village green in Stamfordham, was packed, if you arrived late, you struggled to find room. The ride over the infamous Ryals climb was manic, crowds flooded up the road to watch as the riders tore into view and then up and over the steep climb, the crowd only parting at the last minute to allow the riders through, and then only just wide enough. The screaming fans urging each and every rider on faster.
Bradley Wiggins will now wear the National Champions jersey during the Tour De France, which starts next week.