Nick Craig (Pioneer-Scott Syncros), Isla Rowntree (Islabikes) and Tim Gould (Zepnat RT) took victories in the veteran categories on the first day of the British Cycling National Cyclo-cross Championships.
The youth category races were also run on Saturday, and details of the Under-16 and Under-14 winners are below.
Nick Craig secured his third win in as many years to take the National Champions title on a drying Abergavenny course.
Just into the over-45 category, the Pioneer-Scott man rode a superb race to take the win after a strong challenge from Ian Taylor.
Craig set his stall out during the opening lap after Mike Simpson had led the big field off the start road and on to the course proper. The usual protagonists were all towards the sharp end of proceeding early on and it was a trio of Craig, Taylor and Darren Atkins who made an early break from Welsh champion Tim Davies, Crispin Doyle, Dan Alexander and the rest of the drawn out field.
Atkins and Taylor had got the better of Craig and by the end of the first lap the two had managed to get a small gap to Craig.
Tim Davies was sitting in fourth, the local rider still in with a good chance of a podium. But as the race progressed into the second lap Craig had worked over Atkins and as the previous week was away with Taylor for company.
Atkins, still feeling the after effects of a flu bug, was dropping back but still had a decent gap over Davies who was now heading up the chase group of Alexander, Doyle, Andy Peace and Matthew Webber.
As the midway point approached Taylor made a play to go alone but Craig was quick to respond to any attack, the two leaders looking to tease each other across the top of the circuit, each pushing the already brisk pace.
But it was the Scott rider who put the pedal down on the short climb after the pits, and Taylor was unable to respond which allowed the race leader to plug away increasing his lead over the remaining laps.
Atkins had to work to keep his third spot from a chasing Davies, while the Zepnat pairing of Alexander and Pete Middleton were having their own battle for fifth and sixth but the remainder of the race remained status quo until the chequered flag.
“I certainly didn’t have it all my own way today,” said winner Nick Craig. “As ever Ian Taylor takes the race on and we managed to gap Darren and be able to ride our own race.
“Ian is really good at certain things on this course and he got the gap on me a few times but I was able to ride other parts better so that where I had to make the gaps on him.
“Some parts of the course were really boggy and in parts we were running on the flat to keep the momentum going. I hit a rock, I think on lap two, hit it really hard and thought I’d got a puncture but luck must have been on my side today and I got away with it.
“It was a great course again, great race and good spectating. Actually there was a nice bit of banter between Ian’s pit crew and myself in the race, he’s an adopted Yorkshireman.”
And Taylor added: “I knew I had to keep it hard all race but it took it out of me, but you have to put the effort in to string the rest of the race out.
“I really did have to put a big effort in today and I’ve done a lot better than I thought I would. I came down with a cold after Derby and I’ve struggled to clear it up, I thought ‘let’s start and see how it goes through the race’, and it was worth the effort.
“My goal today was to get second so I’m happy with that, to be honest. To beat Nick really does need something to happen to him during the race, you just have to be with him in case something does.”
Isla Rowntree added yet another National Championship trophy to her collection as the prolific 45-year-old Shropshire rider won the veteran women's race.
The three-time senior champion beat Maddi Smith (Bolsover and District Cycling Club) and Marie Jackson (Paul Milnes Cycles/Bradford Olympic RC) to the line to take first place.
Last year’s winner, Tracey Fletcher (Team Empella Cyclo-cross.com), could only manage fourth place and Helen Pattinson (Solent Pirates) completed the top five.
Now in its second year of a stand-alone event and with a close field, Rowntree took the veteran women’s race on from the gun. Marie Jackson again was a front runner and along with Smith and Rowntree had forged an early gap to the rest of the field.
2014 winner Tracey Fletcher was sitting in fourth, but the pace of the lead three was too high to make any serious inroads. Rowntree, looking smooth on the bike, went on the attack on the second lap but Smith wasn’t going to let her go and the two increased the gap to Jackson and the rest of a sizeable field.
But Rowntree was gliding over the mud and with the bell ringing cruised away to complete the final lap at her own pace. Maddy Smith consolidated second spot and Marie Jackson completed the overall podium.
“It’s fantastic to win in a women veterans race,” said Rowntree. “Maddy gave me a real run today, she stayed with me for most of the race and it was no walkover, the quality of the racing today was great, I think I only lapped three riders.
“There are quite a few mature women in the field and it shows the level they are riding at. The quality of women racing today has improved so much right through from Under 14s upwards, I watch the Under 16s ride and they are skilful – it’s just brilliant, there was nothing when I started racing.”
It was Tim Gould (www.zepnat.com RT) that took victory in the veteran over 50 race, the 50-year-old rider getting the better of former senior and veteran champion Chris Young and defending champion, Team Jewson’s Philip Roach.
Gould and Young faced off in the National Trophy last weekend with Young taking the final round victory but Gould showed great resilience to bounce back and beat his rival to become champion.
Despite placing in the top three on numerous occasions in the late 80s and early 90s, Gould never managed to win the event at senior level.
A race that saw four newly-crowned World Champions take the start line promised a few close-fought tussles over the 40 minutes and the crowd weren’t disappointed.
Phil Roach took the field away from the start line, stringing it out round the tight turns by the pits before heading out towards the top field. Grant Johnson was sitting on Roach’s wheel with Chris Young, Steve Davies, Dave McMullen and Tim Gould all in close contact.
As the race started its second lap it was all change at the sharp end. Roach had dropped back to fourth and Young, Gould and Johnson had capitalised on the 2014 Champion’s misfortune, the three working well to make a big gap away from the rest of the field.
Steve Davies was never far from the action, and along with McMullen and Manchester’s Mick Style was always in with a shout for a podium place.
With three laps remaining it was Gould who found the kick to make the break from the lead group, a lead which was never relented.
The battle was now on for the silver between Young and Johnson, but Roach was not giving up and was heading back to the wheels of the two. With two laps remaining Young was chasing the leader down and was almost there just before the hurdles.
Roach had made his move and had caught and dropped Johnson, Steve Davies was alone sitting in fifth and Mick Davies was attacking McMullen for sixth.
With the bell ringing Gould again attacked to ensure a gap to Young, while Roach was looking good for bronze and Davies had secured fourth from Johnson.
“Today could have been between four people who have won a round at the National Trophy races this season,” said Gould. “Going on the way Chris was riding at Derby and the World Champions I thought I could have finished anywhere between first and fourth.
“I think the tricky corners and a lot of on and off the bike does fall into my favour. After last week at Derby where I went out on the first two laps fairly quickly then Chis destroyed me I took a more relaxed start today. O didn’t want to be a spent force half way round so in that respect it worked out for me.”
And runner-up Chris Young added: “I was a bit disappointed after I beat him last week. I had a good week training and I’ve done everything right but he just had a bit more power than me today on some sections.
“Once he had a gap I just couldn’t get on his wheel, it’s the kind of course where if you lose the wheel it’s so hard to get it back and I was giving it full gas to try and catch him.
“I was changing my bike every lap, I had a great pit crew, we did everything right, rode a great race but what can you say, Tim just got it right.”
Dan Tulett added another National title to his palmares after a solo ride to the line, leaving the rest of the Under 16 Boys field to fight it out for the remaining places.
After a hard lesson a couple of years previously Tulett, has rarely put a foot wrong on a cyclo-cross course and today was no exception. Once the Specialized rider decides to attack no one can stay with him, but an exciting race was unfurling behind the leader.
Thomas Pidcock, in only his fifth cycle cross race, was in second place with Harry Yates on his wheel and chased by Harry Hardcastle, Tom Mein and Cameron Orr, the chasers not giving an inch.
Never a rider to ease off, Tulett pushed his pace along every lap and had such a lead that, even if he had a problem, he was uncatchable. Meanwhile Pidcock saw an opportunity to attack and on the penultimate lap was alone in second spot.
The chase for the final podium place was on and it was Hargroves Cycles’ Harry Yates who got the better of Hardcastle and Orr to claim the bronze.
Sophie Thackray took victory in the Under 16 girls race and completed a victory lap for the pleasure after Dan Tulett caught the whole field except Thackray just before the finish line.
The Yorkshire girl made her move on the second lap to take the lead after Emily Wadsworth headed up the field on the opening lap.
Lucy Horrocks was sitting in third when she had to retire, while behind Abergavenny’s Megan James was sitting in fourth with Maddie Gammons on her wheel.
Rhianna Stoves was working her way through the field and when Thackray made her move both she and Gammons knew they had to react, both riders riding Wadsworth into fourth.
Thackray was uncatchable but the chasers came on to the finishing straight together and sorted the placings out in a sprint, Gammons just getting the better of Stoves across the line. Thackeray having the whole finishing straight to celebrate her win.
Lewis Askey rode superbly to take the Under 14s title, the Lichfield City CC rider taking advantage of Ben Tulett’s mechanical problem and never looking back.
Tulett took an early lead but Askey and Harry Birchill were only a few bike lengths behind with Charlie Craig and Jenson Young making up the lead five, with places being exchanged between them on the top part of the course.
Jake Norton was in close contact and tangling with the tapes could have seen an early exit for the Sherwood Pines rider. A mechanical for Tulett on the bottom field saw the Hargroves’ rider struggling to get the bike moving, and Askey took advantage along with Craig who moved up to third. Tulett had to run about one kilometre to get to the pit for help, an incident similar to his elder brother a few years previous.
With two to go Birchill began to slow, and Jensen Young came good at the right time and caught Craig, while Askey was now out of sight of the chasers.
Tulett was threading through the field and was up to eighth after his run, Young had taken Craig and was on the chase to Askey, and on the last lap the two were in sight of each other.
The gap was diminishing, but with a title in reach Askey was not giving up and took the flag alone while Craig took the bronze and Ben Tulett finished in fifth after in effect starting from last.
Poppy Wildman rounded off a great season with a national title in the Under 14s race.
Another quick start by the Nottingham Clarion rider saw her head the race from Maddie Wadsworth, Elena Smith, Nicole Clarke and Harriot Harnden on the opening laps, and Wildman never relinquished her lead throughout the race.
Strong riding by Harnden soon saw the Malvern girl into second which relegated Wadsworth into third, but the gap was enough to secure a podium spot from a tight race between Smith and Ava May Oxley- Szilaggi finishing their race fifth and sixth respectively.