Rising star Frazer Clacherty (Team Inspired) took his first senior title at the HSBC UK National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships, while despite suffering an early crash Champion Annie Last (KMC-EKOI Orbea) clinched the women’s crown.
There were also under-23 titles for Tom Pidcock (TP Racing) and Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing), while Harry Birchill (Mid Devon CC) and Harriet Harnden (T-Mo Racing) took the junior honours.
Cannock Chase hosted this year’s National Championships with a course that made use of a mixture of fast single tracked wooded sections, tough climbs and the featured rock garden.
With Hope Factory Racing rider Grant Ferguson trying to make it seven senior titles in a row, he was pushed from the start by Clacherty and Jason Bouttell (Espresso Library)
On the opening lap reigning champion Ferguson had a slender advantage over the chasing pair, however, the trio soon joined together and as they began a tactical battle Tom Bell and Joe Griffiths (TORQ Performance) started to close the gap.
By the end of the third lap Bell had joined up with the trio to make four at the head of proceedings.
As the quartet started to up the pace in the closing stages of the race Bell dropped first and then Bouttell was gapped as they approached the final lap.
Last year’s under-23 National Champion Clacherty used his strength to attack on a climbed section and had time to celebrate his first senior national crown.
“It feels really good to finally get the senior title,” he said.
“It was a group for most of the race, but I just managed to get away on the last lap. At the start of the last lap there was a climb and then into some twisty single track.
“I just attacked on the climb and got a little bit of a gap and held it for the rest of the lap. I was a bit nervous all race as you never know what is going to happen in a group.
It's @FrazerClacherty who takes the men's title at the @HSBC_UK | National Cross Country Championships— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) July 21, 2019
He wins his maiden senior national championship on the mountain bike at Cannock Chase #NationalXCChamps #MTBXC #MTB pic.twitter.com/ih3kt9vHd4
“I’m happy to come out on top and I’m really happy with my race.”
Clacherty will be representing Great Britain at the European Championships next weekend.
1 Frazer Clacherty (Team Inspired)
2 Grant Ferguson (Hope Factory Racing)
3 Jason Bouttell (Espresso Library)
Commonwealth Champion Last had to overcome a heavy crash on the opening lap to fight her way to an eighth national crown.
The 28-year-old, from Nottingham, was over a minute behind lone leader Isla Short (Short Factory Racing) at the end of the opening lap due to the crash.
But by the end of the second, Last had halved Short’s advantage to just 20 seconds as she closed back in on the leader, while Kerry McPhee sat in third a minute ahead of Amy Jo-Hansford (TORQ Performance).
Last took back the lead on the third, passing her rival before riding to victory with Short in second and McPhee taking bronze.
“I was feeling good and then I just made a tiny little mistake on the first lap and landed on my chest so winded myself,” said Last.
“It took a little bit to get back into my rhythm. I was feeling strong, I got back to Isla and took the lead so I’m really happy.
“It definitely wasn’t part of the plan, but it’s bike racing and you make mistakes and I did what I could to make up for it.
“It was on a flat bit where I just caught my back wheel, it was a little mistake and I landed really heavy.“It’s a nice course and has a bit of everything.”
1 Annie Last (KMC-EKOI Orbea)
2 Isla Short (Short Factory Racing)
3 Kerry MacPhee
The under-23 race was also a tactical battle with Team Inspired team-mates Cameron Orr and Sean Flynn joined at the head of proceedings by Under-23 Cyclo-Cross World Champion Pidcock.
Behind, Christopher Rothwell (BW Cycling) was a lone chaser as the leaders started watching each other.
The experienced Team Inspire duo continued to try and drop Pidcock on his weaker sections of the course.
However, they failed to distance him and, coming into the finish, Pidcock took the front and used his sprinting legs to take a clear victory.
“It was different and really tough obviously,” said Pidcock.
“I kept getting gapped on the transitions like going uphill into the descents and stuff.
“I had to keep closing them up and at one point on the second lap I got gapped and thought that I couldn’t go that hard for the rest of the race.
“But they eased up and I got back on. That gave me time to recover and then in the last lap I knew it was going to come down to a sprint, so I wasn’t going to get dropped then.
“It was really hard. We were all equal, but I knew if it came to a sprint, I would be able to win, and it was a perfect finish for me.
“It was something different for me and a new challenge.”
1 Tom Pidcock (TP Racing)
2 Sean Flynn (Team Inspired)
3 Cameron Orr (Team Inspired)
The impressive Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) again dominated the under-23 category attacking on the first climb and riding clear.
The 22-year-old, from Malvern, led from the start and was initially joined by Ffion James (Hope Factory Racing) in the opening stages.
However, Richards’ form soon showed and she had a gap of 1m 45s after the opening lap.
James was a lone chaser in second with Holly MacMahon (Bianchi Dama) in third.
By the end of the penultimate lap Richards’ lead had grown to six minutes with the same chasers behind working hard.
Richards took a clear win and almost went to complete a further lap after the finish while James won silver and MacMahon third.
It was a commanding display as @eviee_alicee took Under-23 victory at the @HSBC_UK | National Cross Country Championships— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) July 21, 2019
She hit the front early and never looked back on the Cannock Chase course to add another title to her collection #NationalXCChamps #MTBXC #MTB pic.twitter.com/53SRHTzTwV
“I felt a bit tired this week so I’m really happy to come here and enjoy the racing and to get another national title,” said Richards.
“The competition is really good at the moment, so I was super happy. I feel like I have tried to get better at not just riding away and blowing myself, but today I went back to it.
“It made for a bit of a random lap because I didn’t really know where anybody was but it was good to get away from the start, so I’m pleased.
“This was my first course back after my injury so it’s nice to come back two months later to see how I’ve improved, and my confidence has got better.
“I now go to the Mountain Bike World Cups, World Championships and then jump on the cyclo-cross bike.”
1 Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing)
2 Ffion James (Hope Factory Racing)
3 Holly MacMahon (Bianchi Dama)
Birchill was in similarly emphatic form in the junior men’s race and was never troubled as he rode clear to take a clear win.
With National Series winner and race favourite Charlie Aldridge (Stirring Bike Club) absent due to injuries suffered in a crash, the door was open for Birchill to take the crown.
The youngster led from the opening lap before pulling out an unassailable gap.
Behind Jonte Willins (Peebles CC) and Jamie Johnson (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) were locked in a battle for silver.
With a lap to go Johnston distanced his rival only to see Williams fight back to him on the final lap.
Birchill held on for an emphatic victory while Williams edged the silver medal in a sprint finish over Johnston.
“It was really fun, once you were at race pace the course flowed and was nice,” said Birchill.
“I really enjoyed it. It was really hard from the start, so I managed to get a gap and hold it. It’s the third National Championship jersey for me so I’m really happy.”
1 Harry Birchill (Mid Devon CC)
2 Jonte Willins (Peebles CC)
3 Jamie Johnson (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique)
In similar fashion to Richards, fellow Malvern-based rider Harriet Harnden (T-Mo Racing) put in an impressive ride to clinch the junior title in standout style.
She was initially joined at the front by Anna McGorum (Peebles CC), Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC) and Josie Nelson (RST/Cycle Division Racing Team).
However, by the end of the first lap Harnden had pulled out a gap while Flynn and McGorum chased together with Nelson just behind.
Flynn eventually gapped her rival to take silver while McGorum fended off the challenge of Nelson for the bronze medal.
“It feels really good and it was tough race, it was a lot warmer than I thought,” said Harnden.
“Both Anna’s and Josie were going really fast, so it was tough as always.
“They kept my worried the whole race, but I just managed to hold them off and it felt good.
“I felt the course in some places it was a bit draggy but as a whole it was quite technical and tight which made it quite hard to get past people.
“It was good fun. I knew I needed to get a good start as it went into a single track so fast, so I was happy to get a good start and see how it went from there.”
1 Harriet Harnden (T-Mo Racing)
2 Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC)
3 Anna McGorum (Peebles CC)