A fast and physically demanding course saw Witse Meeussen and Anna Kay power to impressive victories at the Cyclo-cross National Trophy race in Derby.
Anna Kay (777) came into the British cyclo-cross season fresh off the start of her cyclo-cross campaign in Europe. Her top 10 placing against a world-class field in Belgium a week before the first National Trophy Series round in Derby was an ominous sign of things to come for her competitors.
Lining up next to Kay was the former national cyclo-cross champion, Nikki Brammeier, and Xan Crees (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus), who was a regular on the podium at last year’s National Trophy.
As the flag dropped, Kay, Crees, and Anna Flynn (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus) launched off the line. The technical nature of Derby’s Moorways circuit favours an aggressive rider who can pick good lines through narrow twists and turns, and that meant a fight for the front on the first lap.
Crees was quickest off the line, but Kay quickly made her way to the front and ramped up the pace, putting pressure on her rivals before the first lap was even finished.
By the end of the first lap, Kay had a 15-second lead, dropping through the switchbacks in the forest and building on her early acceleration. Crees fought to steady the gap, forming a chase group with Flynn, Alderney Baker (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross), Ella Maclean-Howell (Tofauti Everyone Active), and Brammeier.
The group worked well together for a while, trading turns while Kay powered on alone. However, the gap was soon unassailable, stretching out to almost two minutes.
Brammeier was not content to let the gap grow and, as the chasers slowed at the halfway mark, she jumped clear with a stinging attack. A succession of fast laps built up a small lead, but second place was never certain.
Kay’s lead was never in doubt, and she had time to sit up and take in the win, finishing with a massive winning margin and making 777’s first outing of the season in the National Trophy a successful one.
Meanwhile, Crees attacked hard on the final lap, taking seven seconds from Brammeier’s lead in the space of a few hundred metres. Nevertheless, Brammeier held on valiantly for second place, ahead of a fast-moving Crees in third.
Maclean-Howell led in Baker for fourth and fifth respectively, proving she was the fastest of the under 23 riders on the day.
As the first race of the 2022/23 Series, Kay leads the elite women’s standings and Maclean-Howell tops the under 23 standings.
The first round of the elite men’s National Trophy Series promised fireworks, as the National Champion, Thomas Mein (Hope Factory Racing), lined up against a strong field. Witse Meeussen (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) already had a podium to his name from early season racing in the Netherlands, while Toby Barnes (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport) is coming off the back of a successful road season.
As the commissaire’s whistle broke the silence, the riders launched into action. Mein and Meeussen were fastest off the line, quickly followed by Barnes and teammate Jenson Young (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport). Mein was first into the technical sections and he was closely marked by the other favourites.
Meeussen soon saw an opportunity to attack and he took it - a long effort on lap two stretched the front group, distancing Mein by a few metres. Behind him, the others were on the limit, with the pace causing each rider to ride their own effort.
With such small gaps between the leaders there was no time to relax, and the front group set an infernal pace for the next few laps.
On every lap, Meeussen would gain one or two seconds, slowly builing his lead. Mein was the only rider able to match the pace, while Barnes, Young, and Rory McGuire (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) drifted further back.
Meeussen eventually crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of Mein to take the first round victory in both the elite and under 23 competitions, with Barnes coming in a further 50 seconds back to take third.
The junior women’s race was fast from the start, with Cat Ferguson (Hope Factory Racing), Niamh Murphy (Liv Cycling Club Halo Films), Emily Carrick-Anderson (T-Mo Racing), and Elizabeth McKinnon (Montezuma's Race Team) quickly pushing.
Ferguson set the early pace and attacked the race hard. She consistently set the fastest laps and, after the first lap, no-one could match her turn of pace.
Ferguson cut through the corners and was unfazed by the technical course and she quickly built a lead over Libby Bell (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport), who was the only rider able to keep her in sight.
Behind them, Imogen Wolff and Alice Colling (Shibden Cycling Club) were battling for the final step on the podium. Matching each other blow for blow, the pair tried in vain to bring back the two leaders.
Ferguson came into the final lap 45 seconds ahead of Bell but didn’t ease off, pushing all the way to the line, giving her time to celebrate her first National Trophy win in the junior ranks.
Behind her, Bell had a comfortable margin over Wolff, who just edged out her teammate Colling in a sprint for the line.
In the junior men’s race, Oli Akers (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport) won a thrilling race ahead of Alfie Amey (GKR Racing).
Akers had come to the race keen to do well and he set his stall out from the start. He was the fastest off the line, before settling into a rhythm with Reuben Oakley (ROTOR Race Team), Jacob Bush (Fensham Howes), and Max Greensill (Hope Factory Racing).
The peace was shattered as Amey worked his way up to the leaders and the racing really began. The leaders traded blows and, by the penultimate lap, Akers was leading. With Amey catching him through the corners Akers decided to wait for the sprint.
Coming into the final straight, it was a drag race for the line, with Akers proving strongest of the duo.
He now leads the Series into round two, but will likely miss the next round due to scheduling conflicts with his GB commitments.
A full list of podium placings is below:
- Anna Kay (777)
- Nikki Brammeier
- Xan Crees (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus)
- Witse Meeussen (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal)
- Thomas Mein (Hope Factory Racing)
- Toby Barnes (Garden Shed UK-Ribble)
- Witse Meeussen (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal)
- Jenson Young (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport)
- Rory McGuire (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli)
- Ella Maclean-Howell (Tofauti Everyone Active)
- Alderney Baker (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross)
- Anna Flynn (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus)
- Cat Ferguson (Hope Factory Racing)
- Libby Bell (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport)
- Imogen Wolff (Shibden Cycling Club)
- Oliver Akers (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport)
- Alfie Amey (GKR Racing)
- Jacob Bush (Fensham Howes)
- Oscar Amey (GKR Racing)
- Peter Carpenter (C and N Cycles RT)
- Inne McDonald (Edinburgh RC)
- Gus Lawson (Pentland Racers)
- Danie Davies (Maindy Flyers CC)
- Noah Smith (GKR Racing)
- Madeline Moorhouse Smith (Shibden Cycling Club)
- Zoe Roche (WXC World Racing)
- Tulsi Bakrania (WXC World Racing)
- Melanie Rowe (Deeside Thistle CC)
- Olivia Poole (Deeside Thistle CC)
- Rose Lewis (Halesowen A & CC)
Women’s Veterans 40-49
- Kate Eedy (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross)
- Ceris Styler (Backstedt Bike Performance)
- Alison Kinloch (Shibden Cycling Club)
Women’s Veterans 50-59
- Helen Pattinson (Montezuma's Race Team)
- Isla Rowntree (Islabikes)
- Miriam Whitehurst (Reflex Racing)
Women’s Veterans 60+
- Sally Reid (Morvelo Magspeed Racing)
- Carolyn Speirs (Kendal Cycle Club)
Men’s Veterans 40-49
- Adrian Lansley (Pedalon.co.uk)
- Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing)
- Lewis Craven (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli)
Men’s Veterans 50-59
- Nicholas Craig (SCOTT Racing)
- Darren Atkins (Team Jewson-M.I.Racing)
- Daniel Alexander (www.ZepnatRTLazerhelmets)
Men’s Veterans 60+
- Grant Johnson
- Michael Davies (Pedal Power Loughborough)
- Robin Delve (Mid Devon CC)