Preview: 2010 British Mountain Bike Championships
If you want to see Britain's Olympian cross country and world-beating downhill racers in 2010 then there's only one chance - the British Mountain Bike Championships this weekend. Read Luke Webber's preview now and keep it locked to British Cycling Online for all the latest news from the race throughout the week.
This weekend riders are readying for Britain's biggest domestic mountain bike race - the British Championships. At Ae Forest and Pippingford the courses are being prepped, tape set in place and riders arriving in the hope that come Sunday they will be pulling on a coveted National jersey and British Cycling will be there in force covering all the action from all the races.
This week though is all about what could happen - we've already seen the XC course, now we've got reaction from the favourites, along with all the essential organiser information.
Ae Forest is hosting the British Championships for the first time following a history as a British Downhill Series venue and for the second year in succession a reigning World Champion will grace the British Downhill Championships.
In 2009 it was Gee Atherton and in 2010 it's Steve Peat in the rainbow jersey who will be taking on the two-minute Ae course. Starting with an open and rocky top section before splitting into a tree-lined root-fest, last time Ae hosted a national-standard race in early 2009, Gee Atherton was the winner, however conditions are expected to be significantly different this weekend than on that occasion.
Atherton told us he's already prepared to defend his title against Peat, who crashed in the closing stages of the 2009 race.
"The British Championship is always a big event for me, to be able to say you are British champion amongst such a strong field of UK riders is quite an achievement. I will be giving it everything I have to defend my title up in Scotland this weekend."
Alongside World Champions Peat and Atherton, 2008 Junior World Champion, Josh Bryceland cannot be discounted, while Danny Hart is another name in contention among a start list which contains over a dozen World Cup regulars.
Both Dan and Rachel Atherton are the big names set to miss the weekends' racing; Dan sustaining a serious back injury in training last week and Rachel still recovering from a crash in Leogang.
Also missing from the lineup is Brendan Fairclough and women's defending champion Tracy Moseley, who is currently in Europe preparing for the forthcoming World Cup. This means a new women's British Champion is guaranteed - Helen Gaskell last had the title in 2003, but two young riders Katy Curd and Jess Stone will have their eyes on the win. There will be no Manon Carpenter however; she's focusing on the Junior World Cup Series and elects to sit the weekend out.
13:00 Venue open for team pits, parking and camping.
Course Inspection - On foot only
08:00 - Marshall Brief
08:00 - 11:00 Race Registration
09:00 Uplift opens
17:00 Championship Male and Championship Female practice Only.
18:15 Riders Meeting
18:30 Course inspection on foot only
19:30 - Wideopen Evening with DVD's and Beer
07:45 Marshall Brief
08:00 Uplift opens
08:30 Track Live
10:45 Course Closed
11:00 Seeding Run
14:00 One Timed Race Run
2009 - Innerleithen - Gee Atherton
2008 - Bala - Steve Peat
2007 - Rheola - Marc Beaumont
2006 - Moelfre - Mark Beaumont
2005 - Bringewood - Steve Peat
2004 - Fort William - Gee Atherton
2003 - Bringewood - Steve Peat
2002 - Ludlow - Steve Peat
2001 - Ludlow - Rob Warner
2000 - Innerleithen - Steve Peat
1999 - Eastridge - Steve Peat
1998 - Builth - Rob Warner
2009 - Innerleithen - Tracy Moseley
2008 - Bala - Tracy Moseley
2007 - Rheola - Tracy Moseley
2006 - Moelfre - Tracy Moseley
2005 - Bringewood -Rachel Atherton
2004 - Fort William - Rachel Atherton
2003 - Bringewood - Helen Gaskell
2002 - Ludlow - Tracy Moseley
2001 - Ludlow - Ffionn Griffiths
2000 - Innerleithen - Tracy Moseley
1999 - Eastridge - Helen Mortimer
1998 - Builth - Tracy Moseley
Pippingford will host the 2010 British Cross Country Championships, where Liam Killeen will return as favourite to retain his title for the third consecutive year. Killeen broke his senior duck to outrace perennial favourite and five-times winner Oli Beckingsale, first on the flat pedally course of Crow in 2008 and then in 2009 at the hilly Innerleithen.
Pippingford sits somewhere between the two extremes and following seventh at the European Championships, Killeen underlined his status as the man to beat, while Oli Beckingsale will look to match and maybe exceed every move made by the outgoing champion.
Talking to Beckingsale last week, the Bristolian confirmed to British Cycling that the Championship win is high on his agenda and his form and previous results suggest it will be a close battle against Killeen.
"Of course the motivation is high to win the National jersey - it always is - and I will give it 100%. It would mean a lot to me to wear that jersey again at this stage in my career. This season Liam and I are two-for-two in domestic races so it should be a good race.
Beckingsale in the British Champions' jersey in 2008
"Although I have never been to Pippingford I have been asking around about it and had a good chat with Steve James about it at Dalby. Sounds like a tough course which will produce a worthy winner.
"Overall, my preparation is going good for this race. My form is coming on well and I am riding a lot better than in April and May so that is positive. July is an important month with the British Championships and two World Cup races so I hope that I am on the pace."
Battling for third position in the overall will be a combination of riders including Lee Williams, Jody Crawforth and Adrian Lansley - all capable of hitting the podium.
In the women's race a recurring back injury places doubt over Sue Clarke's title defence (read about it in detail in her rider diary), something she's still coming to terms with now.
"I have been struggling with a back injury for several months now which has obviously affected both my race schedule and performances. I am currently receiving medical treatment from several sources and it is these practitioners which are working desperately hard to help me take the start line at this weekends British Championships."
Challenging Clarke for her title will be under-23 rider Annie Last who has received dispensation to ride up a category - and following her top result at the European Championships there's no reason to count Last out as a favourite.
Also taking to the start line are cyclocross specialist Nikki Harris and marathon specialist Sally Bigham. For Bigham it will be her first ever cross country mountain bike race - despite scoring top ten results in European and World Marathon Championships.
One surprise entrant is five-time champion Jenny Copnall, although she assures us it's not a return from retirement or a realistic bid for a sixth title:
"The reality of my entry into the race comes from the fact I am getting married in 2.5 weeks, I am feeling the pressure about that and thus a couple of races seems the ideal way to relieve that pressure! I know, who would ever think that a previous cause of pressure would become the catharsis?!
"I am in no way launching a comeback, and expect to be a fair way back in the field. The sole intention (assuming a good weather forecast and that I indeed decide to do the race... I'll decide on Friday for sure) is to soak up the atmosphere, have a bit of fun and marvel at the ability of those at the front end of the race. In that sense, it has a novelty value for me, since every other Nationals has been very pressured and with lots of expectation. Please.... expect nothing this time!!
"Of course, I will also enjoy to witness the moment that the winner pulls on that jersey, particularly if it is their first time winning it! Remembering that feeling will always send a tingle down my spine and I wish everyone racing the best of luck in achieving their goals."
The final word goes to Steve Jones who has been at the forefront of organising the event, and gives us the latest logistical details:
Right now the trails are very dry, we have also diverted the course from the test event making it a totally hard-packed course - except for both stream crossings. We are expecting it to be very fast with sub 20 minute laps for fastest riders.
We have also looked at the timetable and believe we can get a second practice session at midday for the Seniors and Espoirs. This is a one chance practice, as soon as the winning Master and Junior women cross the line we will close the course so any lapped women are pulled.
This will allow a short window for a brisk practice lap before the race at 12:30. Riders wishing to practice in this session need to be waiting at the start from 11:50 and will be allowed on the course at the discretion of the Commissaries. Riders will be instructed when the course is open for practice; they cannot just join the course anywhere. It is one start and one chance only. If anyone is taking too long and is still on the course at the Quarry at 12:30 we will take them off. The lead motorbike will also pick up any stragglers that may be delayed further round the course and ask them to leave or be disqualified.
There are 347 riders entered and all categories have sufficient entries. There are also sufficient numbers for the Master, Vet and Grand Vet Men to have medals for the five year age bands.
Cross Country Schedule
|Saturday Timetable for XC National Championships 17th July|
|Category & Age||Race Titles||Gender||Laps||Registration||Practice||Start Gridding||Start time||Presentations||Feed Zone Passes|
|Under 12's 10 - 12||Under 12 races||Male||half||09:00-13:00||12:00-13:00||N/A||13:45||14:15||N/A|
|Under 12's 10 - 12||Under 12 races||Female||half||09:00-13:00||12:00-13:00||N/A||13:45||14:15||N/A|
|Under 10's||Under 12 races||Male||mini||09:00-13:00||12:00-13:00||N/A||13:46||14:15||N/A|
|Under 10's||Under 12 races||Female||mini||09:00-13:00||12:00-13:00||N/A||13:46||14:15||N/A|
|Under 8's||Under 12 races||Male||mini||09:00-13:00||12:00-13:00||N/A||13:47||14:15||N/A|
|Under 8's||Under 12 races||Female||mini||09:00-13:00||12:00-13:00||N/A||13:47||14:15||N/A|
|Sport (Ranking race) 19-29||Support Races||Male||3||09:00-13:00||10:00-13:00||13:45||14:00||16:30||N/A|
|Sport (Ranking race) 19-29||Support Races||Female||2||09:00-13:00||10:00-13:00||13:45||14:02||16:30||N/A|
|Open (Non Champs) 19+||Support Races||Male||3||09:00-13:00||10:00-13:00||N/A||14:04||16:30||N/A|
|Open (Non Champs) 19+||Support Races||Female||2||09:00-13:00||10:00-13:00||N/A||14:08||16:30||N/A|
|Fun (Non Champs) 12+||Support Races||Male||2||09:00-13:00||10:00-13:00||N/A||14:06||16:30||N/A|
|Fun (Non Champs) 12+||Support Races||Female||1||09:00-13:00||10:00-13:00||N/A||14:08||16:30||N/A|
|Saturday Practice for Championship riders 10:00-13:00 & Resumes after non-Champs races at 16:00-19:00|
|Sunday Timetable for XC National Championships 18th July|
|Category & Age||Race Titles||Gender||Laps||Registration||Practice||Start Gridding||Start time||Presentations||Feed Zone Passes|
|Youth 15 - 16||Race 1||Male||2||08:00-09:00||08:00-09:00||09:15||09:30||11:00||Red|
|Juvenile 12 - 14||Race 1||Male||1||08:00-09:00||08:00-09:00||09:15||09:33||11:00||N/A|
|Youth 15 - 16||Race 1||Female||2||08:00-09:00||08:00-09:00||09:20||09:35||11:00||Red|
|Juvenile 12 - 14||Race 1||Female||1||08:00-09:00||08:00-09:00||09:20||09:36||11:00||N/A|
|Junior 17 - 18||Race 2||Female||3||08:00-09:30||08:00-09:00||10:20||10:35||13:00||Red|
|Masters 30 - 39||Race 2||Female||3||08:00-09:30||08:00-09:00||10:20||10:37||13:00||Red|
|Veteran 40 - 49||Race 2||Female||2||08:00-09:30||08:00-09:00||10:20||10:39||13:00||Red|
|Grand Veteran 50+||Race 2||Female||2||08:00-09:30||08:00-09:00||10:20||10:41||13:00||Red|
|Junior 17 - 18||Race 3||Male||3||08:00-11:30||08:00-09:00||12:15||12:30||17:00||Blue|
|Masters 30 - 39||Race 3||Male||4||08:00-11:30||08:00-09:00||12:15||12:32||17:00||Blue|
|Veteran 40 - 49||Race 3||Male||3||08:00-11:30||08:00-09:00||12:15||12:34||17:00||Blue|
|Grand Veteran 50-59||Race 3||Male||3||08:00-11:30||08:00-09:00||12:20||12:36||17:00||Blue|
|Super Veteran 60+||Race 3||Male||2||08:00-11:30||08:00-09:00||12:20||12:38||17:00||Blue|
|Senior 23+||Race 4||Male||5||08:00-13:30||08:00-09:00 & 12:00||14:15||14:30||17:00||Yellow|
|Senior 23+||Race 4||Female||4||08:00-13:30||08:00-09:00 & 12:00||14:15||14:35||17:00||Yellow|
|Espoir 19-23||Race 4||Male||5||08:00-13:30||08:00-09:00 & 12:00||14:15||14:32||17:00||Yellow|
|Espoir 19-23||Race 4||Female||4||08:00-13:30||08:00-09:00 & 12:00||14:15||14:37||17:00||Yellow|
2009 - Innerleithen - Liam Killeen
2008 - Crow Hill - Liam Killeen
2007 - Newnham Park - Oli Beckingsale
2006 - Moelfre - Oli Beckingsale
2005 - Ludlow - Oli Beckingsale
2004 - Fort William - Jody Crawforth
2003 - Bringewood - Nick Craig
2002 - Ludlow - Oli Beckingsale
2001 - Ludlow - Oli Beckingsale
2000 - Innerleithen - Nick Craig
1999 - Eastridge - Paul Lasenby
1998 - Builth - Barrie Clarke
1997 - Nick Craig
1996 - Barrie Clarke
1995 - Eastridge - Barrie Clarke
1994 - David Baker
1993 - Eastnor - David Baker
1992 - David Baker
1991 - Tim Gould
1989 - Aviemore - Chris Young (race won by Mike Kloser - USA)
2009 - Innerleithen - Sue Clarke
2008 - Crow Hill - Jenny Copnall
2007 - Newnham Park - Jenny Copnall
2006 - Moelfre - Jenny Copnall
2005 - Ludlow - Jenny Copnall
2004 - Fort William - Sue Thomas
2003 - Bringewood - Jenny Copnall
2002 - Ludlow - Caroline Alexander
2001 - Ludlow - Caroline Alexander
2000 - Innerleithen - Caroline Alexander
1999 - Eastridge - Caroline Alexander
1998 - Builth - Tracy Brunger
1997 - Caroline Alexander
1996 - Tracy Brunger
1993 - Eastnor - Caroline Alexander
1992 - Caroline Alexander
1989 - Aviemore - Sally Hibberd