In her second guest blog, Canyon Eisberg fan Marina Stedman explores the OVO Energy Tour Series.
Now we know a bit more about stage racing after the excitement of the Tour de Yorkshire, Tim Elverson’s squad move on to the Tour Series.
You can find lots of information about the unique criterium championship on the official website but, as it is a completely different concept, here are a few pointers to explain what it’s all about.
WHAT IS IT?
The Tour Series consists of eight, hour-long races around different city centre circuits of between 1km and 1.8km.
Teams register a squad of 12 riders for the entire series and the team manager then has the challenge of picking five for each round.
The sports director has to think strategically and choose which of his or her riders are best suited to each circuit, which may be flat, hilly or more technical (lots of corners!) in nature.
The men’s races start at 7.30pm and each is approximately 60 minutes in duration, plus five laps.
What this means is that as close as possible to one hour after the start of the race, a “five laps to go” sign will be put out and the countdown to the finish begins.
WHO IS IN IT?
The seven British UCI Continental teams (although, technically Holdsworth are an Irish team) will race in all 10 rounds of the series, along with leading amateur team Morvélo Basso.
They are Canyon Eisberg, Holdsworth Pro Racing, JLT Condor, Madison Genesis, ONE Pro Cycling, Team WIGGINS and Vitus Pro Cycling.
In addition those eight men’s teams, 11 amateur men’s guest teams will compete in the same physical races but as part of their own series of three mini-Championships.
Four guest teams will ride in the Midlands rounds, three in the Northern rounds and three in the southern rounds.
HOW DOES THE SCORING WORK?
In the Tour Series, it’s not just about the winner or even the first member of a team to cross the line.
The first four riders in each team count, with victory going to the squad with the lowest cumulative time for their quartet.
Teams receive points at every round according to their total time-based finishing positions, with 10 points going to the winning team, nine for second, eight for third down to one point for the 10th team.
The team leading the overall standings after each race will wear the Tour Series leader’s jerseys in the following round, so spectators know who is in the lead.
And the team with the highest points tally after the entire 10 races will win the Tour Series title.
There are also intermediate sprints during each race. They take place roughly every 15 minutes and riders are notified by a bell at the start of each designated sprint lap.
The first five riders across the line in the sprint will receive five, four, three, two and one points and the rider with the most points following every round will wear the Eisberg points jersey in the next race.
The rider who collects the most points across the whole Tour Series wins the Eisberg points competition.
While the Tour Series is primarily a team competition, there remains a prize for each individual winner and also a Brother fastest lap award at each round.
WHERE ARE THE RACES?
The first round takes place in Redditch on Thursday, May 10. The series then heads up to Scotland for races in Motherwell on Tuesday, May 15 and Aberdeen on Thursday, May 17.
It then moves on to Durham on Tuesday, May 22, where the format changes slightly to include two races.
Riders from the men’s teams will face a 500m individual hill-climb up the city’s famous cobbled South Street in the afternoon followed by the standard circuit race in the evening.
Round five in Aberystwyth on Saturday, May 26 follows the standard format before the series moves on to Stevenage on Bank Holiday Monday, May 28 for rounds 6a and 6b.
The former is an afternoon team time trial where each five-man squad completes two laps of the 1km course, with the fastest team declared the winner. The standard circuit race follows in the evening.
The penultimate race is in Wembley on Tuesday, May 29 with the Grand Final in Salisbury on Thursday, May 31.
The Tour Series also includes women’s races, you can find out more about those on the official website.
Seeing 50 riders racing around a short circuit for just over an hour is an exciting spectacle and not to be missed, especially if you live nearby.
So what are you waiting for? Go along and cheer for the Canyon Eisberg boys in blue!
For short race reports after each round, visit canyoneisberg.co.uk/news or join us on Facebook and Twitter.
If you want to keep up to date with what’s happening you can follow the OVO Energy Tour Series on Twitter @TourSeries or #OVOTourSeries