Dixon Takes West Mids Round 3
Former national champion Phil Dixon
With the cross season now in full swing Round 3 of the West Midlands league saw the series return to Rosliston Forestry Centre, Burton-upon Trent. With a few course alterations from the 2008 route, the riders tackled a relatively flat course but it was to be by no means straightforward. The continuation of a dry September led to the track being hard-baked and bumpy, which in turn saw the abandonment of several riders throughout the day with various mechanicals - ranging from punctures, tubs rolling off right through to snapping forks. In the Seniors race a seemingly never ending stream of riders shouldered their bikes back to the pit area, whilst their helpers vigilantly mended and got them back out on the course.
The race saw the arrival of several strong entrants - Dan Booth (Cycling Bargains), David Clarke (Pendragon), Tom Haines and Philip Dixon (Zepnat.com). Adam Biggs also started along with Cult Racing team-mates Ben Roach, fresh from u23 victory at the National Trophy and Pete Banham who took the win in the previous round.
A fast start saw Banham leading the way with Booth following closely. Adam Biggs and Ben Roach were just behind with the Zepnat pair hot on their heels. Soon though it was Dan Booth driving the pace and he soon broke clear in a very strong display. Towards the end of the second lap Pete Banham suffered a mechanical and shouldered the bike back to the pit but unfortunately lost a few minutes in the process.
Dan Booth, who later suffered a flat tyre
Booth continued to extend his lead until suddenly he appeared running with the bike, rear tub hanging off. In the grassy start finish area he remounted and rode on the rim back to the pit but even the speedy wheel change saw him lose first place and slip down to 5th.
David Clarke had got off to a slow start but was soon slicing his way through the field and leader Philip Dixon was now being chased down by him, Adam Biggs and Tom Haines. Meanwhile the most spectacular crash of the day saw Dan Bill (Echelon-Spiuk) unavoidably smash into a rider who went down in front of him. His bike went skyward and saw him land lying in pain on the finish straight. After a while he slowly got to his feet and decided to continue. Pete Banham now fighting his way back soon caught Dan and the pair worked tirelessly catching and passing several riders eventually to finish in a very respectable 12th and 13th place.
The course was very dry and very fast
At the front end David Clarke was really whipping up the pace and closed fast on Dixon. At the finish a sprint to the line saw Dixon edge out Clarke to take a good win. Biggs took 3rd, Haines 4th and Dan Booth rounded up the top 5.
It was another exciting round and shows that in cross anything can and does happen. The fast course proved to be a real bike breaker but it made for a thrilling spectacle.