Slippery conditions made for exciting racing on day one of the HSBC National Cyclo-Cross Championships as seven national champions were crowned.
Competitors’ bike handling was tested on the fast descents around Sunderland’s Hetton Lyons Country Park, which led for a day of exciting racing and close finishes.
Maddi Smith won the women’s veterans title, while Pete Middleton took the men’s 50+ race and Paul Oldham claimed victory in the 40-49 category.
While in the youth races there were victories for Millie Couzens and Simon Wyllie in the under-16 categories and Zoe Backstedt and Joshua Tarlin took the under-14 national stripes.
Smith makes it a hat-trick
Maddi Smith retained her veteran women’s title in style with a fine solo victory in a race she led from start to finish, eventually winning by 53 seconds and allowing herself time to celebrate.
The 46-year-old made it three national titles in a row using her strength to power through the mud and beat her rivals.
HSBC UK | Cyclo-Cross National Trophy and age group world champion Kate Eedy had to settle for second on the occasion after a battle with Helen Pattinson (Hargroves-Ridley-Montezuma’s).
Pattinson had led the Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.com rider after a faster start on the opening laps, until her younger rival drew back and, despite a trip at the hurdles, Eedy rode clear to clinch second.
Battle of the teammates
Pete Middleton raced to his limit and showed his technical ability to ride clear of fellow www.Zepnat.com RT-Lazer Helmets man Tim Gould, to clinch his maiden veterans 50+ national jersey.
The duo were joined early in the race by Welsh champion Tim Davies (CC Abergavenny/JP Signs & Print) as the trio surged away on the opening climb.
However, a bike change for Davies allowed his rivals to edge out a slender gap and the first two eventually surged away.
HSBC UK | Cyclo-Cross National Trophy winner Middleton, who finished second in this event last year, then took advantage of a Gould crash to establish a small advantage.
Both riders crashed on the slippery descents but it was Middleton who clinched victory by 27 seconds, while Davies took third.
Oldham adds vets stripes to collection
In the final race of the day Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing) road to his maiden National Veteran 40-49 champion’s jersey.
The multiple Three Peaks race winner, who won the elite national title earlier in his career, was joined on the opening lap by Ian Taylor (C and N Cycles) and the pairing had a small gap after the opening section.
Fearing a long chase, Nick Craig (SCOTT Racing) attacked to close the gap but that prompted a surge from Oldham and he powered clear, increasing his lead to over a minute by the finish.
After a slower start Craig made his way back to Taylor before forcing a comfortable gap for silver.
Couzens and Backstedt take girls youth titles
Millie Couzens (PH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield ERT) sprinted to victory in an exciting under-16 girls finish which saw four riders enter the final lap together.
Couzens had gapped her rivals earlier in the race until a crash allowed Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC), Eluned King (Towy Riders) and Maddie Wadsworth (Beeline Bicycles RT) back into the race and the quartet battle it out on the final lap.
And it was Couzens who led into the finish, holding off Flynn for victory while King outsprinted Wadsworth for bronze.
In the under-14 age category National Trophy winner Zoe Backstedt (Maindy Flyers Youth CC) added the national stripes to her collection with a dominant ride.
She led from start to finish while behind Ella Maclean-Howell (Cardiff JIF) held off Grace Lister (Wolverhampton Wheelers) for second.
Wyllie and Tarling prevail in boys’ youth sections
Simon Wyllie (Halesowen A&CC) came from behind on the final lap to clinch a sprint victory in the under-16 boys event.
National Trophy winner Oliver Stockwell (Welwyn Wheelers CC) had looked the likely winner after attacking on the second lap and building a comfortable lead of 13 seconds going into the final circuit.
However, he crashed with a lapped rider allowing Wyllie to claw his way back before sprinting to victory, with Alec Gregory (Pedal Power Loughborough) gapping the chasers to clinch bronze behind.
The under-14 event saw Joshua Tarling (West Wales Cycle Racing Team) ride away from his rivals for victory.
Euan Woodliffe (Welwyn Wheelers CC) and Alex Barker (Halesowen A&CC) were locked together for silver before the former gained a gap late in the race to stand on the second step of the podium.