This weekend, the third round of the HSBC UK | National Cross-Country Series took place at Gaddens Close Farm, Ringwood, New Forest. Spectators and riders alike were treated to dry and sunny conditions on Saturday, with the rain threatening to appear on Sunday.
Riders were greeted with long, open climbs exposing them to the New Forest elements. With tight rooted forest sections and dusty descents leading into jumps, allowing riders to show some steez, followed by the dreaded cliff climb into the finishing sprint.
The men's sport category opened Saturday’s racing, with riders completing five laps of the grueling course. Aled Jones took a comfortable win, with Alex Douche in second and Daniel Moore in third.
Next up, the women’s expert/sport, elite, junior, veteran and grand veterans all rode together with staggered start times. The current under-23 national champion Hattie Harnden took an early lead, adding to the distance back to second place on every lap to storm to victory in the elite women's race. She was followed by Anna Kay in second Anna Flynn in third.
The expert and sport categories combined this weekend, leading to Wadebridge Coasters CC's Libby Hardman taking the win with Emily Bridson in second and Roisin Browne rounding out the top three. In the 40-49 women's race, Ruth Miller took the victory in a close race from Karen Heppenstall in second and Kate Robson in third. Positions 4-49 were only separated by two minutes after an hour and a half of racing!
The women's 17-18 race was even tighter, with the top three positions all finishing within 45 seconds of each other. First across the line was Lotta Mansfield with Kylie Vaudin in second, and then Charlotte-Louise Mcgreevy in third. The over-50s women's field rounded out the racing with Catherine Kilburn taking the win, Clare Hoskins in second, and Kym Harvey in third.
The rain and wind made an appearance in the afternoon races, making the men's races even more challenging, particularly in the open sections with the wind blowing and scattered rain showers making those root sections slippery.
The main competition appeared in the elite men's category with a four-rider pack battling it out for nearly all of their seven laps.
However, on the last lap national champion Frazer Clacherty kicked hard on his way into the final wood section, followed by Christoper Rotherwell breaking away to battle it out for first and second between them. This battle continued with a fantastic sprint finish between Frazer and Chris, seeing Clacherty win with Christopher Rotherwell in second and Jason Bouttell in third.
Hope Factory Racing's Phillip Pearce won the men's expert race with a margin of four minutes over David Bone in second, who came in just two seconds before Kishan Bakrania who took third place. The men's 17-18 field was won by Rotor Race teams Joseph Blackmore with Nathan Smith in second and Huw Buck Jones in third.
A fantastic weekend all around; the next stop for the series is Newcastleton, Scotland, on the 5th of September.