By Gerry McManus
The British Cycling Premier Calendar moves down to Buckinghamshire for the Archer Grand Prix on Sunday 15th April. 100 Elite riders will line up for the 115-mile race which is the fourth counting event in the series currently being led by Chris Newton (Recycling.co.uk).
This years Archer race is on two circuits with the first taking the riders on the scenic route in the Chiltern Hills to ascend Longdown and Whiteleaf five times. Whiteleaf has proved to be the killer climb and you can be sure that a group will be clear by the time the peloton travels back past the HQ at Hazelmere to move onto the Penn Street finishing circuit. The route severity, combined with the race distance, will ensure the crowds at the finish in Winchmore Hill will see a worthy winner cross the finishing line first after around five hours of racing.
Three previous Archer winners are on the start sheet. John Tanner (Planet X) 1997 & 2005, Chris Newton (Recycling) 1995 and Gordon McCauley (Plowman Craven) 2001 & 2002. Newton leads the Premier Series after three events having secured victory in the Bikeline 2-day in March and finished second Girvan 3-day over the Easter weekend. Newton has been battling with Ian Wilkinson (SIS), Dean Downing (Rapha), Rob Sharman (KFS Special Vehicles) and McCauley and the five guys will know each others strengths and weaknesses well by now.
Wilkinson has come to the fore this year and overall victory in the Girvan will have given him even more confidence. McCauleys reputation as the tough guy for tough races will see him as one of the favourites for Sundays gruelling race and whilst team mate Tony Gibb is expected to be there or thereabouts at the finish it remains to be seen if the remainder of his team can help to shape the result for the New Zealander.
For the full feature of the Archer GP and the start list, click here.