If you’ve been watching ITV4 and seen the cycling coverage of the Tour Series and wondered what the deal is here goes.
The Pearl Izumi Tour Series is an 11 round series of town or city centre races run over five weeks in various locations in England, Scotland and Wales. The races are run on a short circuit in a town centres with laps usually just over 1km in length. Races last approx one hour so it’s fast and furious right from the start. There are also several intermediate sprints on certain laps so the riders are going for it for the whole race. All the circuits are closed to traffic and pedestrians meaning the riders have a clear road to race on so no dodging cars either.
This makes the races ideal for TV as it passes the same spots many times and is excellent for spectators at the race as they get to see the riders lots of times and can follow the action more closely.
To make sure all riders have an incentive to race until the finish, the organisers have made the team classification the real prize. As a result, all positions are fought for at the finish and not just first rider across the line. Points for each rider on the line are added up so having all your riders finish high up is better for the team than an individual win and everyone else finishing at the back of the race. The winning team on the night is presented to the crowd and the team leading the overall team rankings are also presented with red series leaders’ jerseys for the next race. Winning the team competition overall is considered so highly that many squads sign riders for the year purely for their ability to win during the five week series.
Twelve teams of five riders made up by the top 10 UK based professional squads and invited top amateur teams take part in each round. Teams can use different riders throughout the series as long as they are full team members which unfortunately rules out the likes of Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins from riding as they cannot ‘guest’ for a team no matter how much they’d like to!
There is also a women’s series called the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix series which takes place at five of the Tour Series rounds with a similar structure. The women’s races take place just before the men’s and are just as action packed with many of the UK’s top female riders taking part.
Races are often held in conjunction with other cycling related activities in towns so check out the venues and get yourself along to watch one if you can. It’s a great way to spend an evening and as they’re all in town centres, there’s always a pub, cafe or coffee shop nearby to help keep you refreshed and enjoy the action and entertainment. If you do get along to a round, keep an eye out for the ITV4 coverage the following night as you might even make it on to the telly if you’re near the barriers!
Full details of the series and venues at www.tourseries.co.uk