Former champ targets third British cycling title in Monmouthshire

VICTORY: Roger Hammond winning his second National Road Race title at the Celtic Manor in 2004

VICTORY: Roger Hammond winning his second National Road Race title at the Celtic Manor in 2004

First published in Sport

ROGER Hammond wants a third British title and believes the young members of his Madison-Genesis are just the ones to land the British Cycling National Road and Time Trial Championships under-23 crown in Monmouthshire this June.

The major sides, like Team Sky, are likely to dominate the Elite Men's Road Race, with their stars looking to wear the red, white and blue national jersey for the coming year.

But Hammond knows just what it takes to tame a tough National Championships course because he has done it twice in successive seasons, the last being a decade ago this year.

Now 40, the Oxford-born star is Directeur Sportif at British domestic team Madison-Genesis, hopes he can mould his young squad into stars of the future.

Hammond said: "It is tough when there are top pro teams in the main race. But there is a pro category and an under-23 category. So it is a realistic target for us to go for that under-23 jersey.

"Ten years ago, when it was not Team Sky and other big riders were scattered about other teams, it gave more of a chance to the domestic riders to win the national title. Now they are struggling."

Which is why young Madison-Genesis riders like Alex Peters and Peter Hawkins, who were overall first and second respectively in this month's first big domestic competition - the two-day Tour of the Reservoir, are being funnelled through teams like Hammond's to possible bigger things.

"Our aim is to get riders on teams like Sky and Omega Pharma-QuickStep," he added.

Hammond does not know who will be leading that charge for the Under-23 title within his squad yet. He said: "The race is quite a way off yet and we have a few months of racing to do before then when riders can come into form for three or four weeks at a time.

"Anything can happen but Alex has just won the Tour of the Reservoir and Peter was second and we have some other talented under-23s in the squad. Anyone of them can win it."

And Hammond says it’s fantastic for Monmouthshire to be staging the Championships again. "Wales, and that part of it, is beautiful with great riding and scenery," he said. "It always seems there are a lot of cycling fans down there.

"You get the feeling that the Welsh love having us down there and want us to race."

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