The British national road title in Abergavenny, Wales, on Sunday will see one of the strongest fields assembled in recent years. Cyclingnews examined the start list and, of the almost two hundred riders who will take the start line, we have selected twelve riders most likely to claim the champion's jersey.
Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad)
It seems only a matter of time before Cavendish will be wearing the British champion's jersey. The absence of his loyal Columbia teammates within the peloton on Sunday may be a chink in his armour. However, if the race comes down to a bunch sprint and the Manxman is there, he'll be a good chance of taking his maiden title.
Steve Cummings (Barloworld)
Cummings was second to Russell Downing in the 2005 British championship. He grew in stature as a road rider last year in his debut season for Barloworld taking several stage wins and high overall finishes at several European stage races. Cummings won a stage of the Giro del Capo in South Africa in early March and is a world class team pursuit rider on the track.
Russell Downing (CandiTV/Marshalls Pasta)
Winner of the 2005 road championship, Downing has been one of British cycling's most successful riders, winning consistently on the road since turning pro with IteamNova.com in 2002. Four race wins in 2009 mean Downing will be a dark horse to win his second national title.
Chris Froome (Barloworld)
Racing on a British professional licence since 2008, Kenya-born Froome completed his second Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, where he finished 36th overall. He will ride the championships on Sunday alongside Barloworld teammates Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas, the latter of whom is coming back after injury. If the three can work well together they have the pedigree to come away with a result.
Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam)
Alongside Jeremy Hunt, Hammond is one of two Cervélo TestTeam riders to have won the British road title twice before. Successive triumphs in 2003 and 2004 sit well alongside his seven national cyclo-cross titles. A stage win at the Tour of Qatar in February should be enough for his opponents to keep Hammond marked down as a threat.
Rob Hayles (Halfords)
Hayles is the reigning British champion thanks to his win last year in Yorkshire. His win last year came 15 years after his first national title, in the men's kilo, in 1993. Hayles will have the support of three of his Halfords teammates on Sunday.
Jeremy Hunt (Cervélo TestTeam)
Hunt may not win often, but when he does he wins well. He claimed the British national title twice in his career, in 1997 and 2001 respectively. He is one of four riders from the Cervélo TestTeam competing and if they can capitalise on their strength in numbers Hunt could claim a third national title.
Peter Kennaugh (100% ME)
Kennaugh was only 19 years old when this prodigious talent took the silver medal in last year's title. It will be two more years before Kennaugh will move out of the Under 23 division, but like last year he could be the surprise rider. He this month he placed third place overall and won a stage in the Baby Giro.
Lloyd finished second when David Millar claimed the British title in 2007. Fast forward to 2009, Lloyd is racing for super strong Professional Continental squad, Cervélo TestTeam. Being part of a strong team loaded with experience – including his own – could be the key to Lloyd claiming his first title.
David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream)
The 2007 champion showed earlier this month at the Dauphiné Libéré that he is in good form. A forced change in his training programme will see a rested Millar take to the start line on Sunday. Between Millar and Brad Wiggins, there's a good chance of seeing a red, white and blue iteration of the Garmin-Slipstream jersey on the Tour de France start line in early July.
Ben Swift (Katusha)
Swift's has been ascending rapidly towards the top step of the podium this year for team Katusha. He had a strong Grand Tour debut in May's Giro d'Italia where he finished third on stage two behind Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish. If he recovered well from the Giro Swift could find himself on the top step on Sunday.
Brad Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream)
Like his Garmin-Slipstream teammate David Millar, Wiggins showed strong form in the lead up to the championships. He recently closed his Giro d'Italia campaign with a second place in the individual time trial in Rome, showing that he had come through the three weeks in good shape. Most of his wins may come against the clock, but Wiggins is more than capable of pulling off a road race victory.
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