Published: 14 July 2015
The 2015 British Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-country Championships will be hosted by Hadleigh Farm on Sunday 19 July.
Grant Ferguson and Annie Last will start as favourites to defend their titles at the venue of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Grant Ferguson will start as favourite for the elite men’s race – again receiving special dispensation to ride outside of the under-23 men’s category.
Ferguson earned that right with two commanding victories in the British series, alongside top-five performances in the under-23 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Ferguson’s nearest rival is likely to be Liam Killeen. British champion for five consecutive years from 2008-2012, Killeen has kept a low profile since crashing out of the Olympic mountain bike race in Hadleigh three years ago.
However, at round three of the British series, Killeen showed he can still compete at a high level, finishing second to Ferguson by 30-seconds – four minutes ahead of the rest of the field.
Although no other rider is expected to challenge the internationally experienced Ferguson and Killeen, the race for the final podium placing is expected to be unpredictable.
Phil Pearce has recent form, winning the last round of the British series and gaining some world cup experience, while Dave Fletcher will be looking to return to his best, which he demonstrated with victory at round one in March.
Annie Last will be aiming to add a fourth British champion’s title to her list of achievements and starts the 2015 British championship as favourite to do just that.
Back from injury and now re-establishing herself as one of the world’s top ten cross-country mountain bikers, Last will return to Hadleigh Farm with fond memories from the 2012 Olympic Games, where she finished eighth as the first British woman in over a decade to participate in the event.
Under-23 Alice Barnes has received special dispensation to compete against the senior women – a decision likely helped by her recent world cup performance in Lenzerheide.
Finishing fourth under-23 and with lap times competitive in the elite women’s category, Barnes could challenge Last.
With Beth Crumpton and Lucy Grant competing in the under-23 race, Kerry MacPhee, Mel Alexander and Jules Toone are the favourite for the bronze medal.
The under-23 titles are among the most open races of the championships. Beth Crumpton and Lucy Grant start as joint favourites for the women’s event, while Isla Short will not start due to injury.
Iain Paton and Mike Thompson return from world cup competition to line up exclusively against the best British under-23 riders for the only time of the season.
Looking to challenge them will be Alex Welburn, David Creber and Dylan Kerfoot-Robson – all capable of reaching the podium.
The Hadleigh Farm course will be based on the lap used for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Featuring a series of climbs and constructed, rocky descents, the course was originally hailed as the vanguard of cross-country racing.
How to follow the racing
Reports and galleries will appear after the races, with updates on Twitter @BritishCycling