British Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross-Country Series Round 2
Location: Wheal Maid Valley, Cornwall
Event: 27 April 2013
After the snows of Sherwood, the British Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross-Country Series heads down to the Cornish Riviera for the first time this weekend, to the picturesquely named Wheal Maid Valley, just outside Redruth.
Nearly 450 riders have signed up for the event, which is staged on the site of a former tin mine. The venue will be new to most participants, and offers a technically challenging circuit.
The elite men's race is set to be an almost exclusively domestic affair following the strong Belgian and Scandinavian intervention at round one. Paul Oldham, second at Sherwood and the first Brit, hadn't originally intended to contest the Redruth race.
However, bolstered by his good form and perhaps smarting at the loss of his winter cyclo-cross series title to Oli Beckingsale, he will be on the start line. Beckingsale didn't have a great day at Sherwood, but started slowly last season too and went on to win the title and can't be discounted. Meanwhile, the new wave of younger talent, headed by Grant Ferguson but also including brothers Seb and Hamish Batchelor, is also challenging the old order.
The elite women's race promises to be the most fascinating of the weekend, with the top four riders on UCI rankings to take the line. It will be the first opportunity to see Orange Monkey's new signing, Jovana Crnogorac, in action. The 21-year-old has three wins in UCI races under her belt already this year and is the reigning Serbian National Champion.
Scotland's Lee Craigie, the defending series champion, has to contend with the long haul from Inverness but is always competitive. A surprise entry is marathon specialist Sally Bigham, who hails from Poole but is based in continental Europe for most of the year, while Spain's Merce Pacios rounds up the leading quartet.
One other rider not to be discounted is Hannah Barnes, second behind South African visitor Mariske Strauss at Sherwood in her first serious mountain bike race for five years, she is sure to be in the mix again.
Elsewhere, most of the usual suspects will be lining up. The older men's categories are always competitive and there is a hint of a changing of the guard. In the Masters, Jonathan Pugh was tipped as a strong contender pre-season, which he duly obliged with a win at Sherwood.
Meanwhile Yorkshire's Ian Taylor bettered multiple past champion Paul Hopkins but there is still a long way to go. Further up the age range, the sitting tenants have proved more difficult to dislodge. Despite an influx of new Grand Vets at Sherwood representing nearly 20 per cent of the field, the evergreen Pete Harris still held sway, while it will take something special to unseat Vic Barnett in the Super Vet competition.
Full details of the weekend's events can be found here. There are no entries on the day for the Sunday series events, but entries will be accepted for the Open and Fun races on Saturday. Race start is 3pm; sign on closes at 2pm. There is also an Under 12s race at 10:30 am on Saturday - again, entry is available on the day.