Thomas Mein showed his fighting spirit as he came from behind on the last lap to take victory at the opening round of the HSBC National Cyclo-Cross Series, while Belgium rider Alicia Frank took the women’s honours.
Under-23 rider Mein had crashed out in the slippery conditions earlier in the men’s race before fighting back to the front to beat a host of international riders.
Meanwhile, Belgium young cyclo-cross star Frank led from the front to clinch the women’s honours but was kept on her toes by her British rivals.
A total of 725 riders raced across two days at the popular Derby Moorways Centre for the opening round of the series, organised by Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.com.
Saturday’s hot weather which greeted the youth and veteran riders turned into rain and difficult conditions for the senior men on Sunday afternoon as cyclo-cross season arrived.
Incredible win for Thomas Mein after an early crash. Chases down the lead group and overcomes Brama Merlier on the final lap for a maiden National Trophy Win pic.twitter.com/B1ARfM6Vqq— HSBC UK | Cyclo-Cross National Trophy (@NatCXTrophy) September 22, 2019
Mein fights back for sensational win
Under-23 rider Mein (Tarteletto-Isorex) staged a dramatic fight-back following a third lap crash to take a popular victory in the men’s event after overcoming a host of international riders.
Jarno Bellens (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) led the early pace but he was soon closed down by Creafin-TUV SUD rider Braam Merlier.
Once Merlier forced the pace on the front Mein suffered a heavy fall and had to fight back through the leading pack while fellow British rider Ben Turner (Corendon-Circus) also had issues.
Merlier took care in the treacherous conditions and was joined at the front of the race by Bellens as they opened a lead on six chasers.
Merlier stretched the leading quartet and only Mein was able to claw his way back to the Belgium rider on the final lap, the pair then exchanging positions in a pulsating fight.
Mein though, cheered on by supporters from the North East, powered out of the corners and overcame his rival.
“It just started getting tougher each lap, said Mein.
“I was up the front on the third lap in and crashed coming up the start straight and I lost loads of time and face planted.
“As I lost the time I had a change of bike and had mud tyres. I thought I better keep going and make up the time that I had lost which I did.
“It paid off in the end. I knew the start straight was the only place to put the power down so I just went hard on that last lap all the way around up to the top of the woods.
“I knew if I led it out onto the start straight I would win it so that’s what I did.”
A very happy Thomas Mein on a very popular win pic.twitter.com/bcKF1J0TNh— HSBC UK | Cyclo-Cross National Trophy (@NatCXTrophy) September 22, 2019
Frank pushed hard by Brits
Rising Belgium cyclo-cross star Frank took her first victory on British soil after riding away from her rivals in the Women’s race.
The Experza Pro CX forced the pace on the second lap and then gradually increased her lead as her rivals behind couldn’t match her pace.
Junior rider Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC) joined Ffion James (Hope Factory Racing) and Lindy Van Anrooij (Team 185) in the chase behind Frank.
At the head of proceedings Belgium rider Frank continued to build her lead to 15 seconds with two laps to go over the chasing duo.
The experience of Van Anrooij eventually told as she gapped Flynn in the wooded section in the battle for second.
Meanwhile, James fended off a late charge by last year’s series winner Bethany Crumpton (Tarteletto-Isorex) to finish fourth.
The under-23 places were competed for in the group behind with Sophie Thackray (SCOTT Racing) taking the leader’s jersey while Katie Scott (Garden Shed UK-SCOTT-Verge Sport) took second and Fiona Turnbull (Slingshot) in third.
The juniors competition was won by Flynn, followed home by Millie Couzens (PH-MAS/Paul Milnes Cycles) in second and Nelson in third.
“It was really good and I’m really happy with the win, said Frank.
“It was my first race in the UK so to win is really great. In the first lap everything was together but I felt like the pace was too slow and a lot of girls came to the front.
“I attacked and I wanted to go with a small group, but I was on my own and had a small gap so decided to keep pushing.
“Fortunately, I could hold it to the finish. It was really hard because the course was really fast and to be riding along was hard to keep the gap.”
McGuires dices with danger
Rory McGuire (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) narrowly avoided a starting straight crash before riding away from a leading group to win the Junior Men’s race.
A crash on the starting straight saw several riders see their chances hindered including Calanti-Doltcini’s Belgium favourite Yorben Lauryssen.
At the head of the race four riders forced an early gap including Simon Wyllie (Halesowen A&CC), McGuire, Dutch rider Twan van der Drift (Westland Wil Vooruit) and Daniel Barnes (Garden Shed UK-SCOTT-Verge Sport).
With two laps to go McGuire made his winning move and pulled out a margin of 12 seconds over Wyllie to take victory.
Coran Carrick-Anderson (Peebeles CC) put everything on the line for third resulting in a battle with Barnes but slid out on the final bends allowing Barnes to take third.
“That was pretty savage racing as there isn’t much rest on this course,” said McGuire.
“It felt pretty good and I felt pretty comfortable in that group of three. I knew Corran (Carrick-Anderson) was coming back and he can hop the hurdles the stuff.
“So I knew I needed up the pace and try and get away so it worked out pretty well.”
Veterans make hay
The 50-59 and 60+ age category veteran men were first on course on Saturday.
Darren Atkins (Zannata Ride Coventry XGear) won the 50-59 category ahead of Steve Knight (Team Jewson-M.I.Racing) while Pete Harris (Pearce Cycles RT) took the 60+ category.
Meanwhile, the Veterans 40-49 race saw defending champion Adrian Lansley (Pedalon.co.uk) secure an impressive win by riding away from a hard-starting group of four.
The women’s categories were hotly contested in both Veteran 40-49 and Veteran 60+ age categories while Maddi Smith (Bolsover & District CC) took a comfortable solo victory win the 50-59 age group.
Kate Eedy scored an impressive win for Team Empella Cyclo Cross.Com in the Veteran 40-49 category while a great battle in the Veteran 60+ age category saw Nicola Davies (www.cyclocrossrider.com) prevail over Sally Reid (Magspeed Racing).
At the other end of the age scale the Under-16 Girl’s event saw winner Zoe Backstedt (Storey Racing) pushed right to the line by Ella Maclean-Howell (Cardiff Jif).
In the Under-14s a fine performance from the VCL Pairing of Carys Lloyd, who rode off the front for a solo victory and Lucy Wollaston, who secured a solid third place, was matched by a storming ride to second by Derwentside CC’s Lucy Glover.
Max Greensill continued his impressive age group form as he came through from the back of the grid to win the Under-16 Boys category in an incredible performance which underlined a very special, emerging talent.
Another rider scoring a maiden National Trophy was Alfie Amey (DB Racing) who took the Under-14 Boys win ahead of Sebastian Grindley (North Cheshire Clarion) in a head-to-head sprint finish.
1 Thomas Mein (Tarteletto- Isorex)
2 Braam Merlier (Creafin-TUV SUD)
3 Jarno Bellens (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal)
1 Thomas Mein (Tarteletto- Isorex)
2 Jarno Bellens (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal)
3 Yenti Bekaert (Telenet Fidea Lions)
1 Alicia Franck (Experza Pro CX)
2 Lindy Van Anrooij (Team 185)
3 Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC)
1 Sophie Thackray (SCOTT Racing)
2 Katie Scott (Garden Shed UK-SCOTT-Verge Sport)
3 Fiona Turnbull (Slingshot)
1 Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC)
2 Millie Couzens (PH-MAS/Paul Milnes Cycles)
3 Josie Nelson (RST/Cycle Division Racing Team)
1 Rory McGuire (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique)
2 Simon Wyllie (Halesowen A&CC)
3 Daniel Barnes (Garden Shed UK-SCOTT-Verge Sport)