It is the 60th edition of the race, which takes place around the Aintree motor racing circuit in Liverpool.
The race is also the UK’s second oldest bike race.
An historic and unique event, there was public outcry when, in 2020, it was nearly lost as the organiser pulled out.
However, the organisation was taken on by the Harry Middleton Cycling Club.
Merseysportlive spoke to organiser Brian Rigby about returning after a year off, and about what makes the race so special.
“It’s been a learning curve all over again [returning to organising], a shock to the system,” Rigby says.
A regular race organiser, he says the history differentiates it from any other race.
“The past winners, the big names, it’s the race that a lot of the British domestic teams target as a season opener.
“It’s a race that makes me proud to organise it.”
Previous winners include multiple Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy, who has won the race three times, and Tour de France stage winner and Wirral local Steve Cummings, who won the race as a junior.
The handicap format is unique, as the strongest riders start two and a half minutes after the first riders roll out.
“The format attracts the riders. For the lower end riders, they have a chance, there aren’t many chances for them to beat elites!” Rigby adds.
This makes the racing exciting from the off.
The scratch group of riders need to work hard to ensure they aren’t lapped, before they start to work to bring back the earlier starters.
“It’s unpredictable. You don’t know if the 3rd and 4th category riders will be organised, or if they will sit back and wait to be caught.
“So the elites have no option but to ride full gas until they catch.
“There’s only about 30 seconds between the front and the back of the race, so the elites have to ride to not get lapped in the early stages!”
The startlist for this season’s edition features some big names.
Ribble Weldtite have a strong team, with defending champion Jacob Tipper.
Rigby also highlights Cycling Sheffield and Dolan Ellesse as teams to watch out for.
Saint Piran, the Cornish Continental team, are also sending a strong squad, with 15 riders travelling to compete, so they will present a tough challenge.
Alongside the strong field of men’s riders, there is also an increased women’s turn out, compared to previous years. Team LDN-Brother UK are sending a strong squad.
Other notable riders include Tekkerz CC’s Jenny Holl, and EF Education-TIBCO-SVB’s Leah Dixon.
Conditions, too, can add an extra dimension to the race. Rigby describes it as like a Belgian race, with the exposed, flat course, battling in the wind.
For riders, the race presents an early opportunity to test their legs against some of the strongest domestic riders.
The rider’s perspective
Ribble Weldtite’s Cameron Jeffers, a local professional from Lancashire, says the race holds huge importance for the area and for the start of the domestic season.
“It’s the first real hit-out to see how everyone is going over the winter,” Jeffers says.
The unique nature of the race, for Jeffers, adds to its importance.
“You have 150 riders, there aren’t many races where you can have that many riders on the start line.
“The Handicap format, with staggered starts based on ability.
“Before you can go on and win the race, you have to catch the riders in front of you – it’s a completely different dynamic to a standard road race.
“It forces you to work before racing to win!”
He also says it isn’t necessarily a given that the elite riders will take the win, saying that in the past juniors have been able to stay away and get good results.
Most notably, Steve Cummings won the race as a junior in 1999.
The tactics play a vital part in performing well at the race.
“Instead of attacking at the gun, it forces your hand that you have to work with your group, and the other teams.”
Looking at this year’s race, he highlights the strength of Saint Piran, and suggests that they may lean more on them to bring back the groups up the road.
“We’ve got Jacob Tipper; he’s really motivated to go back and defend his title.
“We also have Matt King and me, who can both sprint, both from a bunch and a break-away.
“We have lots of different options, but it will be hard to beat Saint Piran.
“We’re up to the task, and we are going there wanting to win the race.”
Conditions, too, can add an extra dimension to the race.
Organiser Rigby describes it as like a Belgian race, with the exposed, flat course, battling in the wind.
Jeffers agrees, saying it adds a further dimension to the race.
“It will hopefully split the race up a bit more and make the race more interesting!”
The 60th edition of the historic Eddie Soens Memorial trophy promises to be exciting, with a stacked field returning from the year away.
Starting at 10am, it promises to be a great race for spectators, too.
With the race format, high quality riders and tricky conditions, Jeffers sums up the race nicely:
“It’s unlike any other race on the calendar, and from a spectacle that makes it very exciting to watch.”
(Featured image permission from and credit to Ellen Isherwood on Flickr)