Feature: Beaumont Trophy 2019

One of the oldest races on the racing calendar, the Beaumont Trophy returns to the premier calendar in 2019 (July 7th) after some exciting racing at the British Road Race Championships in 2018 – we talk to organiser Peter Harrison

Feature: Beaumont Trophy 2019

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The Beaumont Trophy, part of the Cyclone festival of cycling, is one of the longest running national road events on the calendar.

It was first run in 1952, the year after the organising club, Gosforth Road Club, was formed. The trophy was presented by Rex Beaumont, a cycle and motorcycle wholesaler based in Newcastle. The first edition of the race was won by Stan Blair riding for Viking Cycles and started and finished in Gosforth Park where the club had its headquarters.

Video of the 1958 Edition

Since then, the race has been won by many famous riders including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Newton, Russell and Dean Downing, Malcolm Elliott, and Don Sanderson to name but a few. The most prolific winner of the Trophy is Ray Wetherell who has won it five times.

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Sir Bradley Wiggins won it twice, including 2011 when the event was the National Road Race Championship. Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) won the race in 2018 when, again, it was the National Championships. The race has been run continuously since 1952 and 2019 will be the 67th Edition. In 2011 and 2018, it was the National Championships and organiser Peter Harrison says of the race, “as far as I am aware it is the longest continuously run road race in the UK”.

When asked when he started his tenure as race organiser, Peter says “I was involved as a marshal from the age of 14 when I first joined in 1961. I then took over the full running of the event in 1978”.

The course for the race is known for the climbs of the Ryals and the start and finish in the pretty village of Stamfordham but it wasn’t always on this course. “Stamfordham was used as a start/finish many times during the period when the race route changed many times until it settled in Stamfordham about 1988” says Peter.

The current course involves two circuits. The larger one has the Ryals on it while the shorter one takes a ‘shortcut’ and misses out the famous climbs. Both courses however take the riders through Stamdfordham. The first time the current circuit configuration was used says Peter, was in 2007 when the Beaumont Trophy became part of the Premier Calendar Series. “The reason for the two circuits is to mix the terrain and also to allow spectators to get back into Stamfordham for the finish” says Peter.

Richard Handley (now with Madison Genesis) on the attack up the Ryals

“Previous to 2007, one larger circuit was used that was 25 miles long and went up the Ryals four times. This limited the number of times spectators who could view the race prior to this date. Pre 1998, the race was usually organised on a large out and back circuit which many times finished in Ponteland. However as it became increasingly difficult to run the race on the larger A & B roads, it was switched to smaller roads” Peter explain.

When asked how organising races on the roads for the event has got more difficult over the years, Peter says “many factors have contributed to make it more difficult over the years, namely, increased traffic flow, organisational costs, marshal provision, acceptance of the race by some in the local community to name but a few”.

On the subject of highlights for Peter, he says, the 1984 win by four time Lincoln GP winner Paul Curran was one of many. The former Commonwealth champion Curran coasted in nine minutes clear at the end of the Gosforth RC event over a tough Northumberland course. His winning margin, says the report, would have been less had not lone chaser Norman Dunn (Middridge CRT) gone off course just half a mile from the finish. Former national road champion David Cook (Middridge) claimed second place ahead of Damian Smith (North East RT) and Russell Thompson (GS Metro), with the 17 survivors from a field of 52 spread over 15 minutes.

Peter goes on to say “The 2011 races (British RR Championships) were a particular highlight for me for a strange reason. On the 4th April of that year, I had a major life threatening crash in Spain near Bilbao and was in intensive care over there for a week and then flown back to the UK and was in hospital in Newcastle for two months. I managed to organise the championships from my hospital bed and on the day of the Champs it was my first day off crutches.”

“Also, I was intensely proud of the 2018 RR Championships as I agreed to take it on at such a late date. Another highlight that gave me great satisfaction was when Wiggins won it in 2009 when riding for Garmin Sharp. I am also proud of the fact that I was the first, as far as I know, to run National Series and National Championship event for both men and women and this is a format that has been continued by others”.

The good news for riders who like to know what is in store for them at a regular event, is that Peter says there are no changes for the 2019 Edition as it is a successful format and doesn’t need changing. On what are the toughest parts of the course, aside from the Ryals one in six ramps, Peter says “on the large circuit, the drag up from West Belsay to Kirkheaton can be a killer if it is a westerly.”

“On the small circuit, the drag up from the junction about a mile past Black Heddon to the top of the Quarry going through Wallridge is tough as this also normally has a headwind. The narrow lane down through Hallington can also be tough for riders in the middle or at the back because of the width of the road, poor road surface and fast decent just before the Ryals looms into view.”

Race organisers don’t tend to see a lot of the racing as there is a lot on the agendas for the day but when asked how the racing has changed in the event over the years, he says “the big teams do control the races more now in the early stages but because of the wearing down nature of the course it is often a case of fortune favours the brave”.

Finally, for those entering the race on July 7th, the maximum sized fields allowed for the race are larger than for most events. “Because both races are run under a 16a TTRO (Temporary Traffic Regulation Order), the main limiting factor for field size is rider safety. In line with 2018, maximum will be 160 for the Beaumont Trophy (Men) & 120 for the Curlew Cup (Women).

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The Women’s event is now part of the classic history of the Beaumont under the name the Curlew Cup – pictured is Jess Roberts winning both the Under 23 and Elite Women’s title in 2018 



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