The starter has been devoured. It’s now time for the main course.
And Max Stedman is relishing the opportunity to get his teeth into Sunday’s national championship road race on the Isle of Man.
The 21-year-old climber finished 19th in the under-23 time trial on Thursday, clocking 31min 7sec for the 22.2km appetiser.
Sunday’s 193.7km road race has always been his main target, though. And he reckons it could be a contest to savour, particularly as it is suited to his style.
Adam Blythe outsprinted Mark Cavendish to clinch the British jersey in Stockton-on-Tees last season, with Stedman 21st overall and seventh in the under-23 standings.
The University of Exeter student, who hails from Crowthorne in Berkshire, is hoping to go even better on a more challenging parcours this time. He said:
“The road race is quite a target really. With the time trial, it was always a case of giving it a go and making a week of it!
“Sunday will be the big one. The course goes up the Isle of Man TT hill twice and then on to a finishing circuit.
“I think it will be rock hard up the climb, which is good for me because it is a 10-minute climb, and then whatever’s left goes into the finishing circuit and fights it out from there.
“If I can improve on last year I will be very happy. Stockton was classed as a sprinter’s course, so this should suit me better. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Stedman will be joined by five BIKE Channel Canyon team-mates on the start line. Among them will be Dexter Gardias, who finished 11th last season.
Rob Partridge will make his return from injury to contest his 14th national championship. He was seventh in 2014 after winning the under-23 title in 2007.
Harry Tanfield, who was a superb fifth in the men’s time trial on Thursday, Alex Richardson and Jake Womersley will also aim to make their mark.
Stedman, who was ninth in the UCI 1.2 Beaumont Trophy last weekend, is excited by the prospect, especially after bouncing back from illness at the An Post Rás. He added:
“After a bit of disappointment at the Rás, I’m coming into this with a good few weeks of training behind me.
“I picked up a virus in Ireland. It was horrid. During stage four my heart-rate was through the roof at points when the race was really easy.
“For the condition I was in and a day after crashing, I did all right. But then all of a sudden I got the shivers and then proper heat.
“Maybe it was a product of the crash. Quite a few people when down with stomach bugs and stuff like that. It was a double blow really.
“I took a week off and just chilled with mates, which was nice. But I have been able to link a few good weeks of training together since then and the legs feel good.”
Click here to follow live updates from the road race on the British Cycling website. Coverage begins with the women’s contest at 9am.