National Cyclo-Cross Championships | 12-13 January 2013
Peel Park, Bradford, West Yorkshire
The city of Bradford in West Yorkshire hosts the 2013 National Cyclo-Cross Championships in the extensive grounds of Peel Park, to the NW of the city centre, over the weekend of 12-13 January 2013. Check out our Event Info page for details of how to get to the event. The venue regularly hosts rounds of the National Trophy series and also hosted the 2009 National Championships.
The Bradford course is a crowd and rider favourite. It’s tough and exposed, centred on a length of tarmac, which hosts the start/finish area, with steep muddy bankings, steps and playing fields on both sides. Although mud is a feature of the course, it nonetheless holds up well in bad weather, with the cambering proving more troublesome than clogging.
Recent races at the venue have included a particularly tricky off-camber descent at the Northern end of the tarmac straight. This has proved popular with the crowds as it presents a great spectacle, especially early in the race when riders are pressing for places. Rumour has it that this element of the course has been tamed, but to be fair, as a whole, the course provides one of the best spectator experiences on the Cyclo-Cross circuit, offering good views of the majority of the lap from the central tarmac roadway, so following the progress of a race is simple.
Helmet Cam from the Dec 2011 National Trophy from top rider, Dave Haygarth - Youtube
The weekend is expected to be colder and dryer than of late, though it would take a succession of hard frosts to really firm up the course, which looks unlikely. So, expect some mud, but probably not ice.
Report Archive: Last Year's Championships| 2011 Championships| 2010 Championships
Video Archive: Senior Men's Race, National Trophy at Peel Park, Dec 2009
DAY 1 - SATURDAY 12 JANUARY
Over-50 Male - 11am
Vet-50 Contenders - from the left, Mick Davies, Steve Davies & Phil Roach
Setting the championship weekend of racing rolling will be the Over-50 men. Steve Davies has dominated this category this season and will be looking to regain the title he lost to Mick Bell in a dramatic race a year ago in Ipswich, when the pair clashed and fell with the line in sight. This term Davies has only really been troubled by Phil Roach, who won the opening round of the National Trophy Series, but who has been absent recovering from an operation in recent rounds. Davies will start a strong favourite, even if Roach makes the start in Bradford, which is unlikely. Expect him to go hard from the start and not leave it to a sprint this time, though!
Our Tip for the title: Steve Davis gunning from the start to regain his title
Local Favourite: John Ginley, an age-category world champion and looking to snap up the over-70 national title
Youth Under-14 Male - 12.15pm
Daniel Tulett is a winning machine in this age category and has so much to spare over the rest of the field (typically two minutes in a 30 minute race) that he is the hottest title favourite of the weekend by a distance. The battle for second should be a lot more interesting, with Thomas Mein, Harry Yates, Anthony Anderson and Mark Donovan having all made the podium during the National Trophy season. But don’t miss out on giving Daniel a shout – he’ll be the one on his own off the front!
Our Tip for the title: Dan Tullet – put your house on him!
Local Favourite: Jacob Feetham, Wakefield Tri – top dog in this age category in Yorkshire
Youth Under-14 Female - 12.15pm
Jessica Roberts and Emily Wadsworth have the form from the National Trophy series monopolising the top two steps on the podium. Roberts has had the edge, though, takingfive wins in six starts and will be all the more difficult to beat on the testing Bradford course.
Our Tip for the title: Jessica Roberts – not quite as dominant as Dan Tulett, but she should start with the confidence that the destiny of the title is in her hands.
Local Favourite: Sophie Thackray, grand-daughter of course designed Phil and heiress to the Thackray ‘cross dynasty.
Youth racing - fast, furious and great to watch!
Youth Under-16 Male - 1.15pm
Always a brilliant race: short, incredibly fast and often unpredictable given the ebb and flow of form, health and fitness for these young riders late in the season. Tom Franklin has been the man to beat in of late in the National Trophy, winning the final three rounds on the bounce, but with three different winners and six riders making the podium during the series, the openness of this race can’t be underestimated. Watch out for William Gascoyne who began the season brilliantly, the very consistent David Barnes and Arthur Green, who has hit form in the last six weeks or so. There’s also Thomas Craig, son of Nick and twice visitor to the National Trophy podium.
Our Tip for the title: Tom Franklin, who has emerged as unarguably the best rider in the category in the last month or so.
Local Favourite: Chris Barnes, son of former National Trophy winner Steve and brother of top Junior, Nick. He’s a classy rider with local knowledge and strong local support on his side.
Youth Under-16 Female - 1.15pm
This is another hard category to call, a bit like their male under-16 counterparts. There’s a similar strength in depth in the field, with very little to choose between the top six.......except for National Trophy winner and defending champion Abby-Mae Parkinson, who has just returned from a racing on the continent and has shown that, on her day, she has the measure of the opposition. She’s also a relative local, which will help with the support and the lack of travel complications. Watch out too for another local, Amira Mellor and Midlanders Sarah Lomas and Grace Garner, the latter the younger sister of world road champion Lucy.
Finally, don’t discount Charlotte Broughton, last year’s Under-14 champion. As an under-14 she was often faster than the entire Under-16 field, but has endured a very patchy first season in the older age-group. However, a last-gasp win over Parkinson at the final round of the National Trophy suggests she’s back to her best.
Our Tip for the title: Abby-Mae Parkinson, the class act of a strong field
Local Favourite: Amira Mellor, tall Holme Valley Wheelers rider who is due a big result.
Veteran-40 Men - 2.30pm
Veteran-40 Contenders: From the left, Ian Taylor, Darren Atkins & Andy Peace
A huge field of well over a hundred riders will make the start of this race, which for many spectators should be one of the highlights of the weekend and it gets the prime final slot in Saturday’s programme.
A highly competitive National Trophy series went to Darren Atkins, who won five of the six rounds and produced a level of consistency that matched that shown last season by Jim Bryan, who did the series and championships double in 2011-2012, his first season as a Veteran. Bryan has raced abroad this season so his form is hard to gauge but he and Atkins will start as the favourites.
However, the tough and probably muddy course will also suit a couple of local riders: Firstly, there’s Ian Taylor who won the second round of the national Trophy and has been the closest challenger to Atkins this season; meanwhile, Andy Peace, a renowned runner who has had a brilliant ‘Cross season, will relish any extreme conditions. Both will be ready to pounce if Atkins and Bryan slip up in any way.
Our Tip for the title: Darren Atkins, who has won at Bradford before and on his day can beat anyone!
Local Favourite: Setting aside Taylor and Peace, who will both be well supported, watch out too for former national champion Chris Young, from nearby Keighley. Closer to 50 than he’d care to admit, but still a class act and coming into his best form of the season, Chris’s Go-Ride coaching in the Bradford area ensures he’ll have a big and vocal support from his many local young fans.
DAY 2 - SUNDAY 13 JANUARY
Under-23 Men - 10.15am
Under-23 Contenders: From the left, Adam Martin, Steve James & Ben Sumner
A small field doesn’t mean an inferior race: the under-23 men’s race is often one of the highlights of the season as these bright young things get a chance to race free from the claustrophobic presence of the seniors. Given the space and light of their own race, they often put on a great show.
Of the National Trophy regulars, Steve James the under-23 series winner and current champion has been the rider of the season, matching consistency with some outstanding results amongst older and more experienced opposition. However, we’ve recently seen a couple of the best seasons ever in this category, with an influx of ambitious and ‘Cross-focussed riders: Adam Martin, Ben Sumner, Nick Barnes, Hugo Robinson, Luke Gray and Jack Clarkson have between them shown us the future of British male ‘Cross racing and any of them could challenge Steve James on the day.
However, mountain biker Grant Ferguson has to have cast a shadow over their ambitions: riding only the last two rounds of the national Trophy, he has been the top domestic under-23 finisher in both. He also emerged from nowhere to win a bronze medal at last year’s championships. Could the lanky Scot be the man to unsettle the ‘Cross specialists?
Our Tip for the title: Well, yes we do think Grant Ferguson will win. He’s too good to write off as a fat-tyred interloper! His MTB team-mate Kenta Gallagher is also on the start list a poses a medal threat of his own.
Local Favourite: Rob Watson of the local Dirtwheels rider is a brilliant bike handler who makes bunnyhopping hurdles look amazingly easy. He will be well supported by his numerous team-mates and fellow Yorkshire League riders.
Women - 11.30am
Helen Wyman claims her 7th National title last year at Ipswich
Can Helen Wyman make it eight wins on the trot? That’s the main plot of this race which sees the cream of British women Cyclo-Cross riders back together in the UK for the first time since the Ipswich-based Euros. Wyman won then and she has every chance of doing so again at Bradford.
Her main rival will be Nikki Harris, who beat her at last year’s world championships and has matched her most of the way through this season in the major continental races. Harris will probably hope that conditions are tough – either wet and muddy or very cold and icy – as her mountain bike background makes her strongest when the race is technically demanding.
Gabriella Day also brings a season of European racing in her legs and she and mountain bike ace Annie Last (who won the final round of the National Trophy) will be on hand should Helen or Nikki slip up.
The best of the UK-based riders will also be looking to upset the “Eurostars” and of them Louise Robinson, who strolled to the National Trophy title at the age of 47, looks the best equipped to mount a medal challenge. Beyond Louise, Adela Carter, Delia Beddes, Annie Simpson and Hannah Payton may also be in the mix. Indeed, the battle to be the best of the National Trophy regulars is an interesting sub-plot in itself. All in all, it should be a fine race.
Our Tip for the title: Helen unless it gets very claggy, which might just open things up for Nikki.
Local Favourite: Adela Carter, who raced the Yorkshire league on her way up and hails from Sheffield.
Junior Men - 12.45pm
Junior contenders: From the left, Billy Harding, Jack Ravenscroft & Adam King
Another smallish field but a mouth-watering prospect: Jack Ravenscroft won the National Trophy series with three fine wins in six rounds. But local lad Billy Harding won two rounds, including the final one at Derby, last weekend. Like the Youths, this category brings with it a reputation for unpredictability and high-paced, high-risk racing. As contenders you can add Jake Womersley, another local rider, who has been very consistent this season and Adam King, who is perhaps the most improved rider of the last couple of months.
Our Tip for the title: Billy Harding, using guaranteed strong local support as a springboard to success.
Local Favourite: Billy Harding again!
Senior Men - 2.45pm
Oli Beckingsale, left, and Ian Field, leading contenders for the senior men's title
The final race of the Championship weekend is a highlight for many. Recent editions have seen some outstanding races and the last time the championships visited Peel Park – four years ago in January 2009 – Jody Crawforth won a thriller which saw him taking on multiple champion Roger Hammond and his close rival for the National Trophy, Paul Oldham, in a last lap which will linger long in the memory. What many may have forgotten in the intervening years is that Oli Beckingsale was involved at the front of that race until the final few minutes.
Oli has built a great reputation as a mountain biker over the years, but his forays into ‘Cross have been fragmented. Until this season, that is. He now returns to Bradford as a legitimate contender for the title after winning the National Trophy series, during which he has shown that he is an outstanding exponent of the discipline.
The defending champion, Ian Field, is the single biggest obstacle between Beckingsale and that national title. Field, previously somewhat mysteriously medal-free at the championships, finally converted his European experience, his talent and his commitment to ‘Cross into a national title with a commanding ride at Ipswich last year. Although he hasn’t had the best of seasons, he looks to be returning to form after injury and he was the best British rider at Derby, beating Beckingsale narrowly in the process.
Aside from these two, the three former champions in the field cannot be discounted, but all are currently below their best: Paul Oldham is currently struggling with a shoulder injury; Jody Crawforth has yet to fully throw off the effects of an early-season motorcycle accident; and Ian Bibby has raced so little that it’s hard to gauge his form. All three have the class to pull out a ride on the day, but all would probably prefer to be a little better prepared for the challenge ahead.
Of the rest, veteran Nick Craig is once again coming to the event in excellent shape. He appears to have paced himself this season and an impressive fourth at Derby last weekend suggests he has got his timing right. He is another for whom difficult conditions – particularly mud and rain – would be a valuable ally.
Don’t rule out Dave Fletcher, either. Another mountain biker who is very adept at ‘Cross, he also seems to be coming into his best form at just the right time.
Our Tip for the title: Ian Field. Having got the medal-monkey off his back last year, he should make his extensive experience of racing at the highest level in Europe count.
Local Favourite: Although he’s a Lancastrian, Paul Oldham gets massive support every time he comes to Bradford. He’s a hugely popular rider and the partisan Bradford crowd seem as happy to adopt him as a fellow Northerner as they are to ignore his red-rose roots.