Harnden and Mein crowned national champions in Crawley

Harnden and Mein crowned national champions in Crawley

Navigation:
Home » Cyclo-cross » National Cyclo-cross Championships

Harriet Harnden and Thomas Mein showed their class in battling to senior national cyclo-cross titles on the second and final day of the HSBC UK | National Cyclo-cross Championships in Crawley.

Looking to retain her title from the 2020 championships, Harnden (Trek Factory Racing XC FU23) found herself in a close-fought battle with SCOTT Racing’s Annie Last and Anna Kay of Star Casino, but managed to hold her gap to the line in a gripping race. Victory also secured the under-23 national champion’s jersey for Harnden, with Xan Crees (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus FU23) second and Alderney Baker (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross FU23) third.

Harriet Harnden wins 2022 national cyclo-cross title in Crawley.

With the sun dipping lower in the winter sky in the weekend’s final race, Thomas Mein took a well-earned win ahead of Cameron Mason (TRINITY Racing) and Joseph Blackmore (ROTOR Race Team) in the senior men’s race.

Mein and Mason were equally matched throughout, with only four seconds separating the pair on the line – a nailbiting finish to end a scintillating weekend of racing. Mason’s second-place finish saw him take the under-23 crown, with Blackmore second and Toby Barnes (SCHAMEL P/B KLOSTER MU23) third.

Earlier in the day Ella Maclean-Howell (Tofauti Everyone Active) took a dominant win in the junior women’s race over Elizabeth McKinnon (Derwentside CC) and Emily Carrick-Anderson (T-Mo Racing). 

Joseph Smith then continued Tofauti Everyone Active’s hot streak with a victory in the junior men’s race. He beat Ben Askey (Backstedt Bike Performance) and Max Greensill (Hope Factory Racing) to the title.

Race by race

Elite Women

Harriet Harnden (Trek Factory Racing) came into the women’s race looking to retain her title from the 2020 championships, but she found a stellar field ready to challenge her for the honour.

Next to Harnden on the startline was SCOTT Racing’s Annie Last and StarCasino Team’s Anna Kay - two riders tipped to flip the race on its head. 

As the flag dropped, Anna Kay took the initiative. She led into the first corner and piled the pressure onto the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Harnden was slow off the line and chasing hard in the main bunch.

The field quickly strung out and Annie Last was proving the most capable of holding Kay’s lines. But Kay was consistently faster and before long, a resurgent Harnden came storming through to finish lap one eight seconds behind Kay with Last a further six seconds back. However, Kay’s lead was short-lived. 

Harnden was pushing through the mud with ease, and she soon found herself alongside Kay. She passed the StarCasino Team rider before a slight rise and Kay couldn’t respond.

Over the next two laps, Harnden, Kay, and Last were within sight of each other - the gap never reached more than thirty seconds - but no rider could break the elastic.

The muddy course forced pit crews to work overtime, and the slim gaps kept everyone on their toes until the final few metres when Harnden could finally relax in the knowledge that nothing would stand in the way of her victory.

Last had managed to rally herself and she finished the race in second place, 15 seconds ahead of a fading Kay.

The victory also secured the under-23 national champion’s jersey for Harnden, with Xan Crees (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus) in second and Alderney Baker (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross) in third.

2022 National Cyclo-cross Championships podium, Elite Women

Elite Men

In the men’s race, the stage was set for a showdown between TRINITY Racing’s Cameron Mason and Thomas Mein of Tormans Cyclo-Cross Team.

Both riders have had a solid season of World Cup racing that set them up to take advantage of the tough conditions and separate themselves from the rest of the field. However, that wouldn’t stop the determined duo of Toby Barnes (SCHAMEL P/B KLOSTER) and Joseph Blackmore (ROTOR Race Team) from trying to derail their plans.

As the flag dropped, the riders launched away from the start like a rocket, and an intense fight for positioning began. It would prove crucial on a course that had been turned into a swamp by two days of racing.

The first time through the finish, the four riders were inseparable. Mason led the way and it seemed that racing from the front would be the order of the day and a war of attrition set in.

First to fall back was Blackmore, who lost a few bike lengths and struggled to pull back the leading trio. Then, after two laps, Barnes was pushed to his limit. His shoulders dropped and he began rocking back and forth on the bike, slowly drifting off the pace by two or three seconds. Mason and Mein sensed their opportunity and pushed on ahead as a duo.

Over the remaining laps, Mason and Mein traded blows, each rider taking the lead and forcing the pace, only to be reeled in by the other. If either rider had fallen back, an ever-present Blackmore was ready to swallow them up until he finally fell back with one lap to go.

Coming into the final lap, Mason made his move, but Mein was unfazed. Gently cruising into the lead once again, Mein retaliated with an acceleration of his own.

This time it went unmatched, and Mein held a slim lead all the way to the line, where he took the win over a well-beaten Mason.

Behind, Blackmore doggedly held onto third, finishing 45 seconds down and rounding out the podium.

Mason’s effort saw him take the under-23 championship title, followed by Blackmore in second and Barnes in third.

2022 National Cyclo-cross Championships podium, Elite Men

Junior Women

Ella Maclean-Howell has been the dominant force in this year’s National Trophy, and she showed once again that she is the rider to beat with an incredible win in the junior women’s race.

Lining up against her long-time competitors, Elizabeth McKinnon (Derwentside CC) and Emily Carrick-Anderson (T-Mo Racing), Maclean-Howell knew she had the measure of her rivals. 

As the riders safely negotiated the first set of winding corners, Maclean-Howell began to apply pressure at the front. At first, only Niamh Murphy of Montezuma’s Race Team could match her pace, but she soon fell away to leave a lone leader.

However, Maclean-Howell isn’t one for complacency. She continued to push on and stretch out her lead even further, making considerable gains in both the technical and the power sections of the course.

Behind, big gaps were opening up between the chasing riders as well; McKinnon was over a minute behind and Carrick-Anderson had slipped back a further minute behind her.

Maclean-Howell crossed the line alone with no one else in sight - the considerable margin of victory testament to just how strong she has been all season. McKinnon came in 90 seconds down to claim the silver medal, while Carrick-Anderson rolled in a further two minutes later to take the final step on the podium.

2022 National Cyclo-cross Championships podium, Junior Women

Junior Men

In the junior men’s race, Joseph Smith earned a second title for Tofauti Everyone Active, taking a resounding victory over Ben Askey (Backstedt Bike Performance) and Max Greensill (Hope Factory Racing).

A crash on the line took down several riders, but the favourites were unaffected. Nathan Smith (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport) got away from the line fastest and quickly opened up a gap, but gear issues on lap one forced him to dismount and he lost almost a minute as he tried to fix the problem. Meanwhile Joseph Smith, Greensill, and Askey pushed on ahead.

Joseph Smith’s opening lap saw him put almost 20 seconds into the nearest chaser, and the effort to build such a big lead clearly took a toll on him - Greensill and Askey quickly started to pull back time on the new leader.

Behind, Nathan Smith had shouldered his bike and was running the lap. Unable to fix his mechanical issue, he abandoned before the halfway point.

Joseph Smith continued to set the pace at the front. He slowly built up his lead over each section of the course, first regaining his 20-second advantage and then stretching it out to 30 seconds. Askey pulled away from Greensill, who lost ground as the race reached its concluding laps.

Onto the final straight, Joseph Smith looked around almost in disbelief. Riding all the way to the finish, he celebrated his national championship title with a bunnyhop across the line.

Askey followed him home 30 seconds later with a small lead over Greensill in third.

2022 National Cyclo-cross Championships podium, Junior Men

Podiums

Elite women

  1. Harriet Harnden (Trek Factory Racing XC)
  2. Annie Last (SCOTT Racing)
  3. Anna Kay (StarCasino Team)

Elite men

  1. Thomas Mein (Tormans Cyclo-Cross Team)
  2. Cameron Mason (TRINITY Racing)
  3. Joseph Blackmore (ROTOR Race Team)

Under-23 men

  1. Cameron Mason (TRINITY Racing)
  2. Joseph Blackmore (ROTOR Race Team)
  3. Toby Barnes (SCHAMEL P/B KLOSTER)

Under-23 women

  1. Harriet Harnden (Trek Factory Racing XC)
  2. Xan Crees (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus)
  3. Alderney Baker (Team Empella Cyclo-cross)

Junior women

  1. Ella Maclean-Howell (Tofauti Everyone Active)
  2. Elizabeth McKinnon (Derwentside CC)
  3. Emily Carrick-Anderson (T-Mo Racing)

Junior men

  1. Joseph Smith (Tofauti Everyone Active)
  2. Ben Askey (Backstedt Bike Performance)
  3. Max Greensill (Hope Factory Racing)