Report: Midlands XC - Round 1
Event: 19th April 2009, Cosford, Nr Rugby
Images: Balint Hamvas
Report: Joolze Dymond
It was a weekend of hot XC action with races taking place all around the UK. For riders in the Midlands the choice of race was a no-brainer with the first round of the hugely successful Midlands XC Series set to take place at the aptly named venue of 'Boyes Toys' Cosford, near Rugby.
To give the riders a taste of riding at National level and the spectators more chances to keep an eye on the action, the organisers cleverly decided to shrink the length of the laps and but increase the number ridden, resulting in some seriously fast and furious racing.
The course itself, offered 6.5km of fast whoops and compressions over open ground, interspersed with tight twisty, rooty trails through the trees. Line choice was crucial and each lap rewarded those with good bike handling skills, not just fitness.
Dust clouds were kicked up from riders' wheels on the short cycle-speedway section and the whole lap was baked hard, except for a short stream crossing near the end of the lap that proved quicker to ride through than round... Providing a much-needed cool down as the sun shone brightly on.
Race 1 set off at 11.00am with all categories racing off in wave after wave. Despite only attracting a smattering of ladies, those present soon got into their groove, showing some of the guys a quick ankle or two! International rider Rosara Joseph came and took the elite women's race in her stride, opening up a much bigger gap than previously at the first round of the BMBS, to take the win after 5 laps with a comfortable 3 min lead. Ruth Owen-Evans ploughed a lonely furrow in the Expert race, with no other ladies to compete against she instead focused on brining home a strong ride. Michelle Paget took control of the ladies fun race, while Danielle Rider took the junior category.
It was the junior boys who set the early pace, with so many closely matched riders it would be anyone's guess as to who would take this one. William Verney started with a storming 17 min lap, with Orange Monkey's Nat Jarvis tucked in nicely behind. By lap 4 Verney had fallen off the train leaving Jarvis hot footing it at the front, while Ross Brinson tried hard to reel him in. Jarvis who has had an astounding start to his season, so far continued his run of form to take the win leaving Brinson down in 2nd just 34 seconds adrift.
Meanwhile a similar race was unfolding in the juvenile race, with Matt Godden and Joe Kirkham providing a thrilling sprint finish to decide their one lap, Godden had the edge to take the win.
Geoff Giddings proved the man to be beaten in the massive Vets race, opening up his race with a fast 17 min 34sec lap a pace which no one else could match, Giddings kept on expanding his lead on the 4 lap race to eventually take the win with a 3 minute advantage. Gaynor Lea led the way home in the vet's women. Ian Wright had a harder battle on his hands in the Grand Vets race with Kevin Townsend snapping at his heels; however he managed to fend off the SIPS Events rider to take the win.
In the youth race Matt Sumpton took early control opening up a comfortable lead to take the win after his 3 lap race, while Beth Crumpton, continued her good start to the season with another win in the Youth Girls race.
Lee Hopkinson opened up the fun's men race taking nearly a minute's lead after the first lap, however John Shingler drew a blinder out of the bag, obviously using his free Powerbar shot to good advantage - passing Hopkinson on the final lap to take the win by just 34secs.. Meanwhile Jake Lewis rode a consistently paced 4 lap race in the Open category to take the win.
As the big guns got their preparations underway for the afternoon race, it was time for the U10 and U12s to have a go, resulting in some of the biggest cheers of the day at the podium presentation. The U10 and U12 categories are a new addition to the series this year, with Halesowen A&CC and Welland Valley CC continuing on from their domination of these categories at regional cyclo-cross events.
The focus then swiftly moved to the afternoon race with spectators relocating to the feed zone and surrounding hillside to soak up the sunshine and the views as the Senior Male categories battled it out. Xcracer.com team manager Charlie Wigfall provided the commentary and there was plenty of heckling and cheering with the Orange Monkey and Numplumz teams being particularly vocal. Wiggle rider and Student XC Champ Lee Williams quickly set out to make short work of the fast course. Despite some fierce competition he dominated the elite race going on to take the win with a good 3 min lead. Salsa rider George Budd didn't have such an easy ride in the expert race, with plenty of riders keen to take the win. Six riders stormed through on lap one, closely matched. By lap 2 this was down to three riders with Giles Drake leading them through. Lap 3 and Budd made his move, with only Gary Record sticking with him. Finally in the closing stages of lap 5 Budd managed to eke out a gap to secure the win from Record by a mere 11 secs.
Another closely fought race was unfolding in the Masters, another well attended category with nearly 50 competitors swelling the ranks. Matthew Dennis set the rubber burning pace, with a sub 17 min opener, matched only by Jon Bowie. However by lap-two Stephen James, Chris Rathbone and a few others had obviously warmed up and those sub 17 min laps were a now a consistent feature, with James in particular banging them out, pulling the train behind him.
After five fast laps it was the Torq rider James who claimed the race, with Rathbone 30 secs off the pace and Dennis having to settle for 3rd. In the sport race Luke Eggar took that honour with Darren Upton and Neil Hayward pleasing the crowds with a sprint finish for 2nd, with Upton claiming by a whisker.
With the racing completed riders were able to relax and take advantage of a post race recovery massage courtesy of Performance Training. A big thanks goes out to all the people who helped make round 1 a success. A special mention to Andy Robson, who as well as being a sickeningly talented rider has marshaled at every Midlands XC event.
Round 2 takes place on the 14th June at Hanchurch Woods and also incorporates the Midland Championships. With Liam Killeen and David Fletcher having won in previous years, we know the racing will be awesome! See you there.
For more details about this series check out www.xcracer.com
Ross Brinson - Junior: "Yeah, pretty good. It was a really good course. It didn't suit me particularly well, but I enjoyed it. I prefer the big climbs like the course at Cannock! It was a short race, could have done with an extra lap I think, but yeah, enjoyed it. I had good, fit competition, took a bit of a fall on the first lap, so had to chase back up and go from there. We've got some strong riders this year on the team, ex-downhillers who are good to train with on the technical stuff and of course the help of Gary Foord with all his knowledge and experience."
Phil Morris - Master: "Not bad, first lap was flat out, managed to get in with the front group which I was pleased with and held on for the first three laps. I dropped back a bit which I was disappointed about, but had a bit left on the last lap which was a nice surprise, so I managed to re-catch three riders. Cracking course, nice and flowing. A bit of everything and not too much climbing. And of course the sunshine, which was great, I don't like the rain much!"
Jenn O'Connor - Elite Lady: "Tough course, but lots of fun. I felt reasonably good, not quite as nippy as I was at Sherwood, but still had a good day out!"
Stephen James - Master: "Yeah really good, just tried to be sensible on the first two laps, not go too silly. I never tend to start too well, just try to ease myself into it! About half way round the second lap the group came together so I thought right, go for it, - that was the time to put the hammer down, got into some singletrack and tried to make a gap. Held it from there really and made it to the finish. Loved the course, really enjoyed it. We made the decision last year to do these races, nice courses and atmosphere. Just got to keep the form going for the rest of the year now. I really wanted to win one this year, got pipped by Matthew Barrett at the British XC, so nice to get a win under my belt!"
Mike Powell - Vet: "Good course, lovely day, what more could you ask for! I've entered all four rounds, last year I won the Midland Champs, so I might have a go for the series win this year. My main aim is to defend my national marathon title and this is all building up to that."
Rosara Joseph- Elite lady: "It was cool, I thought it was a really good track, I enjoyed it, it was tough, it made the most of a small area, yeah I thought it was really well made up". Are you off to Offenburg next week? "Yeah I am". So this is a warm up? "Yeah, yeah. I've had a good couple of weeks training, so I was feeling super sparky today, but it was a good hard race so I'll hopefully go good next week".
George Budd - Expert: "It was great, it was really nice to be in the sunshine, really good fun course, really fast. It was very different to Sherwood last week. Really good singletrack, really very tight and twisty, loads of roots. It was quite interesting because the singletrack was all double track really. With the ruts it was really good fun. There were some quite energy-sapping hills that kinda made you ride them fast, but it was a nice gradient to spread people out, which made it quite tiring. It was a really fun race with 3 guys. It came down to the last couple of laps and I put a bit of an effort in up the hill to pull away from them, so it was good, great race".
Lee Williams - Elite: "Great rolling course, not too hilly. I pushed hard to establish a gap and went from there. I've got the Wiggle Enduro 6 next, then it's off to the World Cup at Houfillaize, so this is all building towards that."