Report: Yorkshire's Belgian ‘Cross Weekend

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Yorkshire's Belgian ‘Cross Weekend

The Yorkshire Cyclo-Cross Association made their annual visit to Belgium last weekend, with ‘Cross legend and Go-Ride Coach Chris Young at the helm. The aim, once again, was to provide an intense weekend of continental Cyclo-Cross racing to a select band of talented young riders - a mix of Youths and Juniors.

Saturday saw the riders tackling the Steenhuffel ‘Cross, just to the north of Brussels, whilst on Sunday they moved on to Zolder, forty miles to the East.

Manager's Report

Chris Young takes up the story: "Racing in Belgium is on another level from that back home and this is always the first lesson for our riders.

Saturday's race was a typical Belgian course round the "cow fields" with a long road section through the Town. The course held up well considering that it had been drenched by heavy rain the night before. For our riders, it was a great experience with strong winds, slippery corners and a highly competitive field.

Right: National Youth Champion Billy Harding

In the youth event, we had some encouraging results with Jake Womersley 8th, Edwin Evans 11th, Billy Harding 15th and Seb Marsh 19th. In the Junior Event Jack Clarkson was 9th, Joe Moses 14th, Ed McParland 21st and Nick Barnes 27th.

On day two, the circuit was mostly single track in the woods and mainly dry under-wheel. Again there was a good quality field with plenty of spectators enjoying the racing and, of course, the beer and frites.

The starts are so important over in Belgium but in both events our riders were lined up at the back of the grid. Despite this, in the Youth event Billy Harding got up to 3rd before a rider took him out and he eventually finished ninth. Jake Womersley was 16th Edwin Evans 18th and Seb Marsh 22nd. In the Juniors, Joe Moses was 17th, Jack Clarkson 18th, Ed McParland 22nd and N Barnes 27th.

A great weekend was had by all the lads. They really rode their hearts out. They have had a taste of life as a Belgium Cross racer and this should have given them a greater understanding of the discipline which they'll now be hoping to put into practice back home.

I'd like to thank my great back up team of Ian McParland and Steve Barnes and the organisations providing us with the funding for the trip: Yorkshire Cyclo Cross Association, Keith Edwards Trust Fund and the Dave Rayner Fund.

Jack's Report | Jack and Matt's Belgian Road Trip

Junior rider Jack Clarkson also chipped in with his account of the weekend, his second visit to Belgium in recent weeks:

The first race of the weekend took place in steenhuffel: the course was very fast through the town centre on closed roads before entering a series of fields in the top part of the course. Due to Friday evening's rain the grass was sodde,n so by the time the yorkshire lads were racing the course was already chewed up and beginning to feel like a slog.

Right: Joe Moses, who produced two strong rides

The Junior race started at 1 o'clock. I was gridded on the second row just in front of the rest of the Brits. Off the start, there were several little incidents on the first lap with other riders snapping chains and generally falling off, before the race settled down. I was back in about 15th and Joe was just ahead in 14th. But, through the technical muddy conditions I really pushed on hard passing Joe and eventually making my way up to 9th place. Joe held on to 14th at the finish and the others also finished well.

Sunday's race was on a much more technical course through woodland with rooty singletrack and bermed corners with short sharp bankings testing the riders to the limits. The course conditions held up well with very little mud through the woods but plenty across the fields.

There was a higher quality field of riders in this race and we knew we would be on the rivet from the beginning. The race went off again at a high pace and I got of to a good start and made my way up to about 12th place and was beginning to settle into a good rhythm.

However, as always in ‘Cross, the unexpected is just around the corner and I got into a tangle with another rider and crashed. Joe was on my wheel as I got going again and, with encouragement from big Yorkshire contingent, we worked together to catch the group in front.

Joe broke free and managed to get on to the back of the group, whilst I just missed out. Joe finished a well-deserved 17th, one place ahead of me, with the rest of the Brits just behind us, wrapping up a great weekend of racing and learning.