PREVIEW: HSBC UK | Cycle Speedway Elite GP Series round one

Starting this Saturday, a brand new cycle speedway competition, the HSBC UK | Cycle Speedway Elite Grand Prix Series, will join The British Cycling Cycle Speedway Supertrax Series, in signalling the beginning of a new era for elite cycle speedway racing in the UK.

The four-round series is a welcome addition to the new competitions programme introduced by the British Cycling Cycle Speedway commission over the winter. Prize money is up for grabs as well as the overall Grand Prix crown, which will be awarded to the rider with the best three scores from the four rounds.

Round one takes place on Saturday 6 May at East Park, Wolverhampton, on the longest track in the country. The event has attracted the country’s best riders, with nine of the provisional Great Britain squad for the 2017 World Championships in Adelaide, Australia, in the elite men’s line up. Those riders will be hoping to use the opportunity to impress the selectors and cement their place in the squad.

In the elite men’s category, British champion Ben Mould will be among the favourites, along with British team captain Paul Heard and big scorers from the opening round of the recent Supertrax Battle of Britain, Myke Grimes, Josh Brooke and Lewis Osborne.

Charlie Rumbold, Matt Smith, Ashley Hill and Dean Hook complete the provisional Great Britain squad line-up, while former world champion Steve Harris will be expected to hold his own as he leads the veteran contenders in the elite competition. Birmingham racer Scott Millward is no stranger to East Park’s track and will also be more than capable of getting in the mix.

Absentees from this first meeting include Polish riders Damian Zareba and Lukas Nowacki, with Zareba racing in Poland this weekend and Nowacki having broken his collarbone in a mountain bike accident last month. Both are hoping to appear in the later rounds, along with former British champion, Zac Payne, who is also absent from round one.

The elite junior category has attracted many of the best juniors in the sport. European junior champion, Brandon Whetton will be certain to trouble the podium positions on Saturday, as will British women’s number two, Macie Schmidt in what is shaping up to be an open and thrilling competition.

The elite junior category kick things off at 12pm, with the elite men’s competition later that afternoon.