After the “phoney war” of the last few weeks' regional league action, the Cyclo-Cross season ramps up a level this weekend with the first round of the 2012-13 British Cycling National Trophy series.
Abergavenny hosts the first round on Sunday 14 October, with Ipswich and Southampton hosting rounds in November, South Shields and Shrewsbury the December destinations, before the series wraps up in Derby on 6th January, a week before the National Championships.
We’ll be reporting from the event on Sunday, where the action will open with the Veteran’s races at 10.30. With defending series winner Jim Bryan not riding, but expected to contest later rounds, it’s a great opportunity for his rivals to steal a march on him, especially given that all rounds of the series count towards the final standings.
One rider to look out for is first year veteran Ian Taylor, who is unbeaten this season in the Yorkshire Points veteran category, and was third overall in the summer national MTB series. Meanwhile, fast starting Phil Roach moves up to the 50+ category this season and could be one to watch, though last year’s leading protagonists, Mick Bell and Steve Davies, won’t let him have it all his own way.
The Junior Men are next off the line at 11.30am and with Billy Harding, Dylan Kerfoot-Robson, Danny Fox and National Youth Under-16 Champion Jack Ravenscroft amongst the leading Youth names moving into the junior category for the first time, it should be a great series as they tackle an array of second year juniors including Jake Womersley, Matt Hargroves and Joe Kirkham.
The Women’s race is off a minute later and sees ‘Cross specialist Hannah Payton looking for a third successive series win. Last year’s early season series pacemaker Adela Carter returns in Hope Factory Racing colours, as does Annabel Simpson, who has been away from ‘Cross for a couple of years, but who won the MTB Cross Country National Under-23 title in the summer. Both will be likely contenders. An interesting “wild-card” is Cardiff’s Mel Alexander, who was runner-up in the 2012 National MTB cross-country series.
The massed ranks of the youth categories go off in four waves from 1.30 onwards. In the under-16 male category, Arthur Green was the best series finisher last year from those still in this category. Under-14s runner up and National U-14 MTB cross-country champion Will Gasgoigne moves up to this category, along with David Barnes and Ewan Grivell-Mellor. All are likely to be in contention.
In the female Under-16 race, all of the top 6 from last year are still in the category. Sarah Lomas, Grace Garner, Jessica Wilkinson, Abby-Mae Parkinson, Amira Mellor and Abigail Van Twisk produced one of the most exciting battles of last season, but they face a huge challenge if they are to hold off Charlotte Broughton, who was dominant in the under-14 category last year and consistently out-performed the under-16 field in the process.
In the male Under-14 category, all eyes will be on Daniel Tulett who, apart from a surprise defeat in the National MTB Championships in the summer, has been unbeaten at national level in both Cyclo-Cross and XC racing over the last 12 months. Harry Yates has been tipped as one to watch on the basis of recent regional league form.
In the female Under-14 race, look out for Emily Wadsworth, who was unbeaten in the U-14 Girls MTB national cross-country series this summer.
The final race of the day sees the Elite and Under-23 Men taking to the course at 2.30pm. National Champion Ian Field takes the start for the opening round for the first time for a few years and with former National Champion Ian Bibby, and Endura teammate Ian Wilkinson having also entered, alongside MTB national cross-country series winner Oli Beckingsale, there’s a refreshing depth to the talent on show, with perpetual series contenders Paul Oldham and Jody Crawforth also lining up.
There are also 22 riders slated to start in the Under-23 category, and with National Champion and Series winner Steve James leading the way, there are a number of riders who will be looking to make a break-through and challenge for the race win. Hugo Robinson, a double national champion at Junior level makes his bow in the senior ranks and is perhaps the best placed of the younger riders to mount a significant challenge.