"It's the strongest start to the season they've ever had" - coach Dixon on U23s at Albstadt

"It's the strongest start to the season they've ever had" - coach Dixon on U23s at Albstadt


UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Round 1 - Albstadt, Germany
Day 2 - XCO (Cross Country) U23 Men, U23 Women, Junior Women
18 May 2013
Report: Eddie Allen

Day two of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup from Albstadt, Germany saw the first of the XCO events of the 2013 World Cup season, with the junior women, U23 women and U23 men taking centre stage.

Above: Grant Ferguson, who finished an impressive 14th in the U23 Men's race.

For the British Cycling Development and Academy Programme riders, the World Cup represented a significant step-up in terms of severity and technical challenge which, combined with the quality of the field, made the opening round a great yardstick for the team, led by coaches Phil Dixon and Simon Watts. Persistent rain for much of the week also made conditions challenging for all riders, however the British contingent naturally thrived.

The Under 23 Men’s event saw two top 15 placings for British Cycling Programme Riders with Grant Ferguson and Kenta Gallagher finishing 14th and 16th respectively. Ferguson’s result was particularly impressive as, at only 19 years old, the Academy Programme rider from Peebles in Scotland was competing against riders four years his elder.

Above: Kenta Gallagher, 16th in the U23 Men's event.

Both British riders came through the field from 29th and 30th on the grid and held top ten positions for much of the race, before the legs began to give way in the final stages. Coach Phil Dixon summarised the race and his reaction to the duo’s impressive start to the 2013 World Cup campaign:

“They had an OK start and they worked themselves up to top ten, and then ran seventh, eighth, ninth for the whole bike race really. With a lap to go a group came across to that top ten group and they just couldn’t hold that top ten position.

“It’s the strongest start to the season they’ve ever had. The level of the racing is really high, they coped with the course technically. It’s a different level. To ride top ten... with a lap to go the legs buckled but they brought it home. The time gaps are small and it’s quite exciting for those two.”

Above: Bethany Crumpton, who scored an excellent 12th in the U23 Women's event.

Earlier in the day British Cycling Academy Programme athlete Bethany Crumpton finished in an extremely promising 12th position in the Under 23 event, won by Australian Rebecca Henderson of Trek Factory Racing. In her first ever world cup event at under-23 level, 18 year old Crumpton started the race 27th on the grid and problems at the start meaning she dropped into the 40s on the start loop. Crumpton however scythed through the pack to finish 12th; in a field that contained numerous riders who had four years’ head-start on her in terms of experience.

Commenting on the ride, coach Phil Dixon said: “It’s a really strong start to her international World Cup campaign. To me it’s a yardstick in the ground for her – now she knows where she’s at – she can look to move on – there’s plenty of headroom in that performance.”

"It’s the strongest start to the season they’ve ever had. The level of the racing is really high, they coped with the course technically. It’s a different level."

Coach Phil Dixon

Dixon went onto praise Crumpton for battling through the field so strongly, explaining the difficulties of recovering from a less than ideal start. “It was a really steep 1 in 4 first climb so she had to run the first climb and the first descent so she probably lost two minutes in the first half lap.

“For 12th place, to come through like that at 18 years of age – I’m pleased with that performance and it shows that she’s moved on. It’s one of the best performances of her career so far, building on a 5th place in the world champs as a junior last year. We’re only in May and the worlds aren’t until September.

“She’s up against some women who’ve been full time athletes for a few years so when you step back and consider what she’s done she’s shown she can perform under pressure.”

Meanwhile British Cycling Olympic Development Programme athlete Alice Barnes finished in 25th place in the Junior Women’s event, won by Greta Weithaler of Italy. Barnes, like all Development riders, was there to gain racing experience at the highest level and coach Simon Watts was keen to point out the positives and learning points that her performance highlighted:

“There are some real positives to take from it and some real areas to learn from. I think she’s in a good place. We knew that the course, in terms of its steepness and altitude gain per lap, wasn’t going to suit Alice however she coped with it, along with testing conditions in course practice. It puts her in a really good place to move forward in her second year as a junior.”

Barnes had an excellent start position, gridded first on the second row, but missed her cleat at the start leaving her in the latter third of the field on the start loop. Barnes responded by hitting the first climb hard and progressed through the field, knocking on the door of a top twenty finish, before her early efforts began to take their toll and she fell back to finish 25th.

“She rode really well technically”, said coach Watts, “she was one of the best juniors technically, particularly on the descents – it’s those steep climbs that we know all about and we’ve got work to do there, but we’ll move forward.”

The action continues tomorrow with the Elite Women with British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider Annie Last competing, while Olympic Development Programme riders Billy Harding, Dylan Kerfoot-Robson, Iain Paton, Michael Thompson and Samuel Stean will all contest the Junior Men’s event.


Junior Women
U23 Women
U23 Men