Feature – Matt Bottrill Recces TT Champ Course


VeloUK joins organiser Bill Owen and contender Matt Bottrill for a look at the British Time Trial Championship course

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Feature – Matt Bottrill Recces TT Champ Course

NEW! Link to the start list for the time trial

It is the most exciting week of racing in the British calendar, the British Road Championships and this year they are being organised by Bill Owen for the eighth time in Wales.

Whilst the governing body may try and take credit for such events, it is the individual organisers who put their life into such events and with the help of Monmouthshire council, that is just what Bill Owen and wife Brenda are doing right now.

Five Minutes with Matt Bottrill
(excuse the wind noise weather wasn’t kind!)

VeloUK travelled down to see Bill near Abergavenny with silver medallist in 2013, Matt Bottrill, to talk about the championships and look at the time trial course. I’ve been going to events organised by Bill for over a decade now and as soon as you stepped into the barn conversion kitchen, Bill’s connection with cycling is clear.

Awards on the window sill including Organiser of the Year from BC and a 1962 Cycle Mag cover with Bill on it after winning a Welsh event. Bill was the first, or one of the few if I have that wrong, to bring the Women’s and Men’s Championships together and has in the past also had the Junior championship in the mix as well, something that should be encouraged in the future.


The heavens open as Matt puts the bike together with help from friend Peter as organiser Bill Owen looks on getting soaked!

The Championships have been in the making for a few years now and with the help of Monmouthshire council and yet to be announced major sponsors, are Bill’s biggest yet. They will be kicked off by the Women’s and then Men’s TT Championships on the Thursday on a 12.5 mile course starting and finishing at Celtic Manor.

Anyone who has been to this five star hotel will know it’s on the top of a bloody big hill and it was here that our recce of the course, with Bill’s help, started. The weather wasn’t kind and the heavens opened as we got out of the cars. Matt put some wheels in the Giant TT bike, some warm Endura kit on and we were soon weaving our way through the Celtic Manor resort to the first of the gates.


Matt races over the Celtic Manor course with the bridge in the background – warning – it has a load rating of one team car at a time for the road race!

My abiding memory is that while the course outside of the complex is quite straight forward with rolling roads from the width of a car to normal ‘B’ roads, the course inside the Celtic Manor resort is ‘mental’ and the crowds will love it.

You come into the resort on very narrow roads, the same roads that a field of 200 will race over (once) in the road race. If ever there’s going to be a bun fight before they hit those roads, this race will have the bun fights of all bun fights! Then twisting and turning, the course rears up past a new Golf club house where we enjoyed a lovely latte later.


Cruel, but had to be done, we pull alongside Matt on a 21 (way over geared) on his first look at the ‘Celticberg’

The climb is horrific. Matt had a 21 on his warm up wheel and was putting out 550 watts just trying to get up the beast. It, the climb, is as bad as the reports have been and Matt was pleased he’d seen it and put some ‘numbers’ down well ahead of the championship. No Easter Eggs for Matt then! The men have to do the hill twice, the women once, both at the back end of the lap.

After the climb, a little, descending to the resort hotel and more up and down, left and rights towards the exit. After that we were on roads that anyone who rode the road champs at Celtic Manor will remember well. Some of these roads again are just a car width but the difference between Matt’s recce and the championship is riders will be on closed roads and have an outrider.

A time trial on close roads – who isn’t going to want to be part of that!


Matt’s Giant bike ready to go with the Championships Jaguar … 

In all, we did three laps and Matt was on it full gas for the last of these and how. We overtook him at one point six or so miles from a point on the circuit and even though we sped there, Matt arrived only three minutes later doing 40mph plus with the tailwind. He was so good, some shots I was aiming for I never had time to do as we couldn’t get ahead enough!

It is certainly no drag strip course and you can hear Matt’s comments on the course in the video interview here. Who Matt will face there we are yet to know outside of three time champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and the irony there is that Matt is helping Alex’s team Movistar and their clothing supplier, Endura, to develop go faster kit! Talking about giving your rival a helping hand!


Some of the roads outside the resort are narrow such as this one used before for the road race champs and the ones inside the resort are even narrower!

It will be a sensational championship. The climb lends itself to having a big crowd as does the whole of the resort and we can only hope that the riders, both domestic and the European pros, support the race.

How great it would be to see Bradley Wiggins ride the race which comes a week before the Tour. Brad is old school, like Dowsett, when it comes to the TT and to see him and Stephen Cummings, Ian Stannard and so on there would be awesome. Same goes for the Women’s race.

Fingers crossed the riders make as much an effort to be there as the organiser has to put the event on. It will be an extraordinary event – Bring it on I say!


On the road heading back towards Celtic Manor, a road also used for the road champs before.


Lots of up and downs but a lot of descending it seemed in the car … again, part of the course used in the past for the road champs. Nice pub on the other side!


The race Jaguar growling across the Celtic Manor bridge.


Most of the roads are quite good, some very fast and then some patchwork from time to time. Even in pouring rain, Matt never had any punctures with his Conti tubs.


In and out of some wooded roads.


Some sharp bends, especially the hairpin as you come off the main road and into the Celtic Manor resort


Matt focused on getting some numbers to work on in the two months between now and the championships


Matt adjusts his brakes after wearing down the brake blocks – its no dragstrip course!


Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK

Tags: , ,