Location: Cathkin Braes Country Park, Glasgow
Event: 21 July 2013
The British Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships travel north of the border to Cathkin Braes Country Park in Glasgow with a world class field on show.
The national champions will be decided on the 2014 Commonwealth Games course on Sunday with strong fields across the categories.
In the elite men’s competition, Olympian and reigning champion Liam Killeen is a surprise name on the start list having made no appearances in the British Mountain Bike Cross-Country Series this season.
Killeen, who has won five national titles in a row, suffered an open fracture of his left ankle at last summer’s London Olympic Games and with limited competition time since then his fitness is an unknown.
Current British cross-country series leader Oli Beckingsale (Endura MTB Racing) hasn’t won a round in the competition but his consistent form will make him one of the favourites having finished third in 2012.
British Cycling Olympic Programme rider David Fletcher (Orange Monkey Pro Team) edged Beckingsale to second last year. The 24-year-old has only made one appearance in the national series (sixth in round four at Margam Country Park) and finished 76th at the Val di Sole UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
But in Great Britain teammates Grant Ferguson and Kenta Gallagher (Superior Brentjens Mountain bike Racing Team) there could be the rider to end Killeen’s stranglehold on the national jersey.
The pair finished first and second in the under 23 category 12 months ago and have enjoyed rewarding world cup campaigns in 2013. Scotland’s Ferguson took a career best fourth at the Val di Sole round in the under 23 category in addition to victory at Hopton Woods on the domestic scene and the 19-year-old will be cheered on by a partisan crowd.
Gallagher, like Ferguson on Great Britain’s academy, rode to eliminator gold in the Czech Republic round of the world cup in May and was under 23 champion in 2012.
Familiar faces in Paul Oldham, Ian Field and two-time cross-country champion Nick Craig add to a strong field.
With defending champion Annie Last absent in the elite women’s event Glasgow born Lee Craigie (Cannondale UK) will aim to continue her fine form which sees her well positioned to defend her British cross-country series crown.
Craigie has already won in Cathkin Braes in the SXC Cross Country Mountain Bike Series and will also collect valuable racing time on a course she hopes to grace for her nation next year.
Multiple British downhill champion Tracey Mosley (Malvern Cycle Sport), under 23 cross-country champion Annie Simpson and Melanie Alexander (Contessa Scott Syncros) should contest the podium but reigning XTERRA Triathlon World Champion Lesley Paterson could be the surprise of the championships.
Paterson, 32, won the triathlon titles in 2011 and 2012 could add a British title to her impressive palmares.
With Ferguson and Gallagher stepping up the senior men’s event, Steven James (Hargroves Cycles/Specialized/Trant/Next) will be expected to build on third having had a stable run in the elite men’s field in this season’s national series.
Eighteen-year-old Ben Roff (Orange Monkey Pro Team) could threaten James while Alexander Welburn (Forme Bikes UK) has shown his future potential this season.
Great Britain academy rider Bethany Crumpton will be expected to take the women’s under 23 title having flourished in her first season of UCI Mountain Bike World Cup action.
Crumpton could still take national series honours as well but Rebecca Preece (Contessa Scott Syncros) and Carla Haines (WXC World Racing) will hope to spring a surprise this weekend.