National Trophy Cyclo-Cross champion Paul Oldham admits he has been impressed with the upcoming talent in the sport as he aims to defend his title in the series.
The Team Hope Factory Racing rider began his Trophy campaign at Abergavenny with a second place finish behind national champion Ian Field before leading his team to victory in the opening Rapha Supercross round at the weekend.
Whilst the top four in Wales of Field, Oldham, Jody Crawforth and Oli Beckingsale had a familiar feel to it, a number of under 23 riders populated the top 10 including national junior champion Hugo Robinson, Steven James and Adam Martin.
With Field set to miss most of the series competing in the world cup and Super Prestige, Oldham will be considered one of the favourites for the title but is appreciative of the competition around him and refused to rule out a challenge from one of cyclo-cross’ upcoming stars.
“There were some really good performances from the under 23 riders, you never know, they could be up there by the end of the season."
“I think a few of the big contenders didn’t ride in the first round. I think people like Steve James, Oli Beckingsale could be in there and there are a lot of young lads did really well at the weekend,” said 2011 national champion Oldham.
“There were some really good performances from the under 23 riders, you never know, they could be up there by the end of the season.
“I think Hugo [Robinson] did a really good ride, but then we’ve got Jack Clarkson riding for us who shows a lot of potential, then people like Adam Martin. There were really good performances by a few of the young ones when you look at the top 20 there must have been 10 under 23 riders in it which hasn’t happened for a while."
On his own performance, he added: “The first race of the season is never easy. I rode the Three Peaks as well which isn’t the best preparation for National Trophy, it doesn’t seem to have done any harm really.
“I always struggle to fit some cross training in, I generally go and do a league event on the spare weekends and it’s basically part of my cross training. It’s a good chance to ride on a proper cross course in race conditions which you can’t replicate in training.”
Chantry Park in Ipswich, the 2012 National Championships venue, is the next stop for the National Trophy where Oldham finished second to Liam Killeen the last time the series visited in 2010. It is a location that the 35-year-old is a fan of. Bradford, also well thought of by Oldham, will host next year’s championships and somewhere Oldham is keen to add to his solo title of 2011.
“As a rider you like a race which has been good to you, that you’ve done well on. Ipswich I’ve generally gone quite well. I like the Bradford course and Southshields is good to me as well, I like all them,” said Oldham, who resides in Colne, Lancashire.
“The nationals carry more weight than the Trophy series, it’s at Bradford which is good for me and it’s local. Obviously I want to put in a good account of myself there really.”
Before his Trophy campaign resumes, Oldham and his colleagues at Team Hope Factory Racing are endeavouring to defend their Rapha Super Cross title. The team-based series began on Saturday in Skipton and Oldham’s win helped them to top the table with two events remaining.
“Well that’s really local to us, it’s obviously big goal for us. It’s only five miles from work,” Oldham said.
“A race is a race, but it’s obviously along the team format, if you are further down it’s not just a case of ‘I’m finishing 12th’, it’s a case of you’ve got to race for every single position, it’s more important in a team event.”
The Super Cross Series concludes this weekend with the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday, whilst the National Trophy Series Ipswich round takes place on the 4 November.