Ryedale gears up for Cycling Grand Prix

Action from the 2015 Ryedale Grand Prix women's race
Action from the 2015 Ryedale Grand Prix women's race

Top-class cycling action returns to the area this weekend in the 12th Ryedale Grand Prix.

Once again the splendid grounds of Ampleforth Abbey play host to a day of racing that starts at 9.30am with the Ryedale Women's Grand Prix.

Here the defending champion Nicola Juniper of Team Ford Ecoboost will face a longer race than in previous years with the distance now upped to 58.5 miles.

She's certain to feel it's a worthwhile challenge however as the prize money now matches that for the later men's race.

That challenge comes in the form of two circuits that use the abbey as their hub.

The first circuit, covered twice is an 11.7-mile loop through Ampleforth, Yearsley Moor, Oulston and Gilling East, part two is a shortened 8.3-mile version of the same circuit that makes the climb to the abbey more frequent for tired legs.

The field of 87 riders will no doubt be whittled down on these grippy roads and could well see the punchy riding style of Juniper taking the honours again.

The Ryedale Men's Grand Prix begins at 1.30pm and here a field of 120 riders use the same circuit configuration but with a total distance of 93.3 miles.

Eleven previous editions of this race have each seen the winner come from a breakaway group of riders with action that often starts early in the race.

The route lends itself to a process of wearing down the field and it always produces a worthy winner.

Last year Ian Bibby of Team NFTO dug deep to take the spoils and he is returning once again to hopefully repeat the victory.

Interest in the race will also no doubt focus on Team Rwanda-Dassi Bikes who have entered four riders as part of a debut UK tour, throw in a mix of other overseas entrants from France, USA and Australia and there's enough competition to keep Britain's top home based riders on their toes.

Both races form part of British Cycling's National Series; for the men it's the Grand Prix Series with title sponsorship coming from the Motorpoint Group.

Once again Grass Concrete Limited sponsors the events on the day with backing from Ryedale District Council.

Cllr Linda Cowling, Leader of Ryedale District Council, said: “ Ryedale has so much to offer cyclists of all abilities.

“Not only will it be an exciting spectacle for residents and visitors but it also helps to promote cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“I hope we can encourage many people to come out and cheer the riders along the course which includes some of the most beautiful parts of our district.”