The Welsh 'Cross League headed for the South Wales Valleys on Sunday for the sixth round Darran Valley 'Cross at Parc Cwm Darran, the picturesque, landscaped site of the old Ogilivie Colliery.
Plenty of rain leading up to the event meant that, true to form, the ground was saturated. The underlying coal waste kept it relatively firm, however, but meant that the riders look as though they had been down a coal mine ... cue an advert for a washing powder?!
Making a now rare cyclo-cross appearance, Team Wiggle's Ben Simmons forged an early lead ahead of League leader Joe Lally (CC Abergavenny). With Ryan Bevis (Bad Ass Bikes) making an early exit and the remaining chasers well strung out behind, Simmons only had the challenge of Lally to contend with. But it soon became evident that, barring misfortune, Simmons had the win in the bag.
He crossed the line some 30 seconds ahead of Lally with winning Veteran Mark James (Team Jewson/MI Racing) in third place and first Junior Adam King (Cardiff JIF) in fourth, both a further 30 seconds back. Despite breaking her rear mech on the final lap Claire Bowen (Abergavenny RC) took victory in the Women's race.
The Under 10s, however, were first to tackle the waterlogged conditions. Rhys Thomas (Abergavenny RC) set a fast pace on the first lap but obviously had not recovered from the tonsilitis that had sidelined him the previous week and he soon pulled out leaving rival Guto Dafydd and U8 Josh Tarling (both Towy Riders) to take emphatic victories in their categories.
Eluned King turned the tables on clubmate Emma Finucane to win in the U10 Girls and fellow Towy Rider Heledd Hunt added to her tally of wins in the U8 Girls.
In a reverse of the previous race it was Towy Rider Owain Roberts who took the race to his Abergavenny RC rivals opening up a sizeable gap to the chasing trio of Megan James, Joe Beckingsale and Huw Higgins-Worrall. The penultimate lap, however, saw Megan give chase, dropping her clubmates and setting up a sprint finish with Owain which she won on the line.
Under 16 Joe Holt (Bynea CC) was untroubled yet again as he led from start to finish in the Youth race, with Towy Rider Nicholas Jones clipping off the front of the chasing group in pursuit.
Under 14 Boy Scott Dunster (Brecon Wheelers) rode strongly to finish fifth and Under 14 Girl Lowri Thomas (Abergavenny RC) was first girl ahead of Under 16 Manon Lloyd (Towy Riders).
1 Ben Simmons (Team Wiggle)
2 Joe Lally (CC Abergavenny)
3 Mark James (MI Racing)
4 Adam King (Cardiff JIF)
5 Phil Morris (Dambusters)
6 Mark Davies (Cardiff JIF)
7 Adrian Peall (Forza Cycles)
8 Andrew Parry (Bynea CC)
9 James Nixon (MTB Marathon.co.uk)
10 Richard Bowen (Abergavenny RC)
Veterans: Mark James. Juniors: Adam King. Women: Claire Bowen (Abergavenny RC).
1 Joe Holt (Bynea CC)
2 Nicholas Jones (Towy Riders)
3 Alister Williams (Abergavenny RC)
4 Sam Beckingsale (Abergavenny RC)
5 Scott Dunster (Brecon Wheelers)
6 James Tillett (Newport Velo)
Under-14s: Scott Dunster. Girls: Lowri Thomas (Abergavenny RC).
1 Megan James (Abergavenny RC)
2 Owain Roberts )Towy Riders)
3 Joe Beckingsale (Abergavenny RC)
Girls: Megan James.
Under-10s: Guto Dafydd (Towy Riders).
Under-10 girls: Eluned King (Towy Riders).
Under-8s: Joshua Tarling (Towy Riders).
Under-8 girls: Heledd Hunt (Towy Riders).
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.