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Report: British Mountain Bike Series Round 1

Report: British Mountain Bike Series Round 1

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British Mountain Bike Series - Round 1

Big fields, big crowds and a great atmosphere for round 1 of the new Cross-Country series....

....and dust. Something not seen at a British race for some time!

The 2009 Cross-Country racing season got off to a flying start with near record numbers, with well over 600 riders entering the new British Mountain Bike Series. Any sniff of the doom and gloom of last year was well and truly buried in the dry loamy trails of Sherwood and with organiser Martyn Salt firmly back in the driving seat, raising the bar once again, helping to transform the UK's premier Cross-Country series we should soon be back to the former glory days of the 90's at this rate!

If round1 was anything to go by, things are firmly on track with near record numbers of riders pre entering races, leaving lots of categories full and with hardly any day entries to be had, which can only be a good thing as it sends out the message that this is THE series to race and if you want to be in it you have to get your act together and enter early to avoid disappointment!

The series kicked off at Sherwood Pines a favourite for many and a nemesis for many others! It's a mixture of tight twisty singletrack, wide stony fire roads, plenty of loose loamy surfaces which made the 7km course a relentless battle for contention right from the off. One of the major changes for the new series was the utilisation of shorter laps to enable spectators to keep a close eye on the action. The course at Sherwood also had an arena 'return' built in which meant the riders swooped back half way in the lap and skirted the arena before heading off to complete the lap.

Oli Beckingsale leads Paul Oldham in the Elite Men's race

The five-rider train at the front of the Elite men's race - from the left: Jody Crawforth, Adrian Lansley, David Fletcher, Oli Beckingsale and, obscured, Paul Oldham

  

Left, Jody Crawforth wins - runner up was David Fletcher, right

The fast pace of the races along with the hundreds of riders on course at any one time made the atmosphere electric as riders chopped and changed for the leading spots, whilst lone riders were being chased by fast moving shoals of competitors hungry to swallow up the ground between themselves and any possible leader. It was breathtaking and awe inspiring racing right from the start, with nail biting sprint finishes and outrageous lone breaks that made the day flow by. The arena was packed with supporters revelling in the spring sunshine, bringing with them a festival like atmosphere to the day, cheering on riders as they pelted past in pursuit of Cross-Country honours.

Another big change for this new series was the decision to run all the women's races off at the same time, along with the youth and juvenile male categories. This meant the elite women's field was the first of the day to be set off giving them a clear run of the course, closely followed by the youth & Juvenile boys and then the rest of the women's categories in staggered starts behind. It was an amazing sight at 9.40am as the holding pens started to fill. I can't remember the last time I'd seen so many women lining up to take part, it was both refreshing and exciting to see each category brimming with enthusiasm and bursting with talent across the board.

The elite women's race fielded 17 riders and had a smattering of classy internationals thrown in to shake up proceedings. New Zealander Rosara Joseph, was back and keen to get an extra quick workout ready for the World Cups, along with German rider Mel Spath and Australian Kate Potter. Not forgetting our own home grown talent with National Champion Jenny Copnall, resplendent in her new kit as she starts the year with new team Look RT, plus the girls from the newly formed Team Halfords, Annie Last experiencing her first taste of racing as a senior rider, Lilly Matthews, and Sharon Laws, fresh off the plane after competing in and winning the Cape Epic in South Africa.

Smart money was on Joseph and talk was on who, if anyone, would actually be able to stay with her. As the 5 lap race unfolded it was soon clear that this was not going to be a clear-cut race as everyone thought. Joseph firmly took the race on and led a fast moving train of riders swiftly through the course. Behind her Kate Potter, Mel Spath, Jenny Copnall, Annie Last and Jenn O'Connor were constantly battling for that sweet spot on her wheel.

While the front rider remained constant the rest was a constant turmoil of chopping and changing as the women fought their way through the course and the backmarkers. Spath had a bizarre off at the feed station, leaving her angry and well off the pace, though she quickly worked her anger into adrenalin and got back to the group.

 

Rosara Joseph, left, and Lily Matthews

 

Sharon Laws, left, and Kate Potter


In the end, Joseph came to the finish line with fellow New Zealander Jenn O'Connor right with her, but it was Joseph who took the win on the line. Behind, the race was on for third, with Spath, Potter and Copnall all jockeying for that spot and in a tight finish it was Spath who took it from Potter while Copnall came in trailing by just a handful of seconds to claim 5th but happy to be the first Brit home. Annie Last, bogged down recently by exams rode a brilliant race to take 6th followed by teammates Laws and Matthews.

Jessie Roberts took the Expert women through their paces, leading for the first couple of laps, but was overhauled in the last 2 laps by eventual winner Emma Smith and had to settle for second with just 34secs separating them. Rachel Fenton continued her recent good form to pick up third. Despite a shaky and unconfident start to the year, Ruth Mordaunt quickly put her troubles to one side got into her Cross-Country stride making short work of the Masters race, taking a comfortable win from Nina Davies in second and Kim Hurst in third.

In the women's sport race it was Maxine Filby who outwitted roadie Kelly Moore to take the win with nearly a 6 min cushion, while Natalia Wase won the open race with relative ease completing her 3 laps in a time that would have narrowly placed her second in the sport women's race.

In the veteran women's race Nicky Hughes rode three evenly paced laps to stamp her authority and took a clear win of nearly 5 minutes from second placed Anne Murray, whilst 2 minutes further adrift Kate Wheeler came in to take third. Even the grand vet women's race saw their ranks swelled with 3 ladies taking on the challenge. Top honours went to Debbie Burton, with Hilary Bloor second, ahead of Jane Batchelor. The junior women's field was one area where the numbers are not so great, with just 3 riders eager to get stuck in. Ruby Miller continued her dominating tendencies as she swept to victory, leaving Carla Haines and Danielle Rider to pick up the pieces.

Meanwhile the juvenile and youth ranks were buzzing with plenty of girls in action. Alice Barnes got the better of Imogen Buick to take the win in the juveniles, with Buick settling for second ahead of Jenna Fenwick in third. Bethany Crumpton took the youth race by storm, despite being slightly unnerved by the wealth of talent lining alongside her. Lucy Garner and Hannah Barnes had a battle on their hands to decide the runner up spots, with Garner just edging out Barnes by seconds.

In the juvenile boys' race it was a family affair with Stuart Wilcox and his brother Ross taking first and second, while Harry Franklin had to settle for third. Grant Ferguson raised to the challenge presented by rival Hugo Humphreys in the youth boys race and after 3 laps and just over an hours racing took the win, with Humphreys fading towards the end. A disappointed Max Sykes came in third.

Special mention has to be given to a bewildered Claire Oakley in the youth race, who despite not being overly happy with her race, coming home in a disappointing 9th spot was awarded a brand new Orbea bike, thanks to sponsor Orbea deciding to offer the bike as a prize draw. What a great incentive to get out their and race, you don't even have to win to get a cracking prize! Also we have to mention the determination of juvenile rider Ben Pygott, who despite ripping off the rear mech from his bike didn't give up and finished his race on foot, which means he ran for over a lap. Probably not the position he wanted to finish but he should be applauded for finishing when most would have just given up!

 

Ruth Mordaunt, left, Master race winner and Ruby Miller, top Junior

Stephen James leads Matt Baratt in the masters race - Matt won from Stephen

As the winners from race one were being rewarded for their efforts on the podium, the competitors for the race 2 were gathering like a dark storm cloud ready to burst into action and flood the course with the brightly coloured rush of lycra. The elite men's field saw a massive 46 big hitters step up to try and make their mark on this opening round. With the fast and unrelenting nature of this course coupled with no killer hills, it was clear this would be a race right of attrition to the very end. Any lone breaks were likely to be non-starters.

It was anyone's guess who would be top dog with plenty of contenders to chose from. As the 7 lap race got under way, it was very nearly over for a couple of riders just meters from the start line as a tangle of wheels saw one rider crumpled on the floor and others looking for new wheels and trying to get back on the fast moving train that had just left without them.

At the business end of the race, a huge group of 20 riders swooped through the trees, looking to all intents and purposes like a remake of Tron! Gareth Montgomerie took control at the front for a lap or two driving the relentless pace onwards. Team mate Robin Seymour, took his turn at the front, as did Paul Oldham, Oli Beckingsale and Adrian Lansley, all trying to ease away from the following group. By lap 5 and a few digs later the massive group had been whittled down to 6 riders and sitting pretty biding his time was local boy Dave Fletcher.

As the race unfolded it was clear that this was indeed going down to the wire and as the group neared the closing stages breaths were held as we waited for the first sighting of the group as they headed for the finish line. Jody Crawforth was the first to pop into the arena with Beckingsale, Fletcher and Oldham all sprinting furiously behind him, as he saluted his win to the crowd. Fletcher edged Beckingsale and Oldham out to take second, with Beckingsale narrowly hanging on to third.

In the Expert race Scott Thwaites overcame his start at the back of the grid, wading through 40 odd riders to make his way into the leading group. It was beginning to look like that this race would unfold similarly to the elite race with the result being decided on a sprint finish. However Thwaites had other ideas! Fed up of choosing the wrong wheel to follow and constantly getting baulked he made the decision to make a break on one of the fire roads to get a clear run at the trails. It worked perfectly for the Crosstrax rider as he used his strength to forge a gap leaving the field strung out behind.

Sion O'Boyle, working hard with George Budd & Jon Pybus tried to limit the damage that Thwaites was inflicting on their race. However after 5 laps Thwaites took the win, a clear winner indeed, having opened up a 58sec lead. Second spot was decided by an explosive sprint with O'Boyle taking on Budd and emerging victorious.

 

Sport winner: Darrell Upton & Maxine Filby

Action from the Juvenile races

The first race of the season is always interesting as riders either get promoted to higher age or ability categories: this is most acutely seen in the junior men's race, which is always brimming with talent and a heady mix of old timers (second year Juniors) and young pretenders (first Year juniors) and this year is no exception. As their 4 lap race unfolded it was interesting to see 3 first year juniors dominate their race.

Clear winner was Steve James who has been using racing against elite and expert riders at local Cross-Country races over the last couple of months to hone his speed. It was a tactic that paid off and seemingly left his rivals standing still! Kenta Gallagher held James' wheel for a bit, but trouble with back markers plus the speed of the emerging junior saw him ease off the pace and settle for second, with Luke Gray picking up third.

After such a sterling display of riding, James was not only rewarded with his moment of fame on the top step of the podium, but also he was delighted to be told by the GB team manager that they'd like him to ride for GB at the World Cup in Houfalize!

The men's sport race was yet another close fought affair with downhiller turned Cross-Country rider Darrell Upton coming out on top, leaving Martin Delves to take second and Serge Hunt third.

Finally the last block of races got under way, full to the brim with master and vet riders forever proving that age is just a number! The master's race was a replay of the Elite race where a huge train of riders hurtled round the course slowly shrugging off riders as it wove relentlessly through the trees. Stephen James with Matt Barrett, John Veness, Rob Enslin and Mark Hutt helped shake this massive train down to just these 5 riders. Barrett playing on his vast experience left a little more in the tank and came past relative newbie James to take the win in a fascinating 4 up sprint. James took second narrowly ahead of Veness, who likewise pipped Enslin to third.

A massive 81 veteran men lined up for their race. Again it's been a long time since we've seen numbers like this come along and support the National Series and the man on a mission had to be Mark Chadbourne. Early indications at local Cross-Country races is that Chadbourne is in the form of his life and as this race got underway he quickly took control and eased his way to the front leaving the rest of the field in chase mode. 4 laps later and Chadbourne took his win and it was Richard John, much to the surprise of partner Jenny Copnall who took second - she explained to me, as she watched him race, that he hardly ever trains! Darren Shepherd finished the line up in third.

Jet skier turned mountain biker Ian Wright continues to be bemused that he's still winning his grand vet races. He put his win down this time to the new kit and bike he's been provided by his new team Raleigh Avanti! Roy Hunt, despite telling us he's retiring, still can't leave the mud behind and found himself racing for third, while Kevin Townsend picked off second. Victor Barnett carried on where he left off last year by taking the win in the Super Vets, despite a bit of a tussle with John Lloyd. The Open race was yet another close run affair with just 10 secs between winner Shaun Newbitt and second placed Jake Elliott.


Scotth Thwaites, Expert race winner

Emma Smith expert race winner

So with round 1 successfully underway it looks like the future of Cross-Country racing in this country is once again on the up! With record entries, including masses of women, 2009 is set to be a bumper year of close run action, nail biting finishes at challenging courses throughout the UK. Round 2 heads for a new venue, one that is currently looking for World Cup status, so expect Dalby Forest to provide a real humdinger of a race. Make sure you get your entry in early if you want to race as signs are that this series is gonna be sold out at every round. If you don't want to race but are intrigued about Cross-Country racing, why not come along to Dalby Forest and watch the UK's finest riders in action? You never know you might just get hooked! Information about R2 and the rest of the series can be found at www.britishCross-Country.co.uk

Post-Race Rider Comments

Ruby Miller - Junior: Great course I really enjoyed that. I went round it yesterday with Sharon Laws and Phil Dixon and they gave me loads of confidence and helped me choose all the good lines so I felt very well prepared coming into the race. Today I was so positive and was out to ride my own race and do the best I can do. From the start I just went off it and nobody came with me, I got a bit frustrated coming into the back end of the sport ladies and some of the juvenile boys and the junior girls caught me back up so I made an effort to go again and made the gap that I took to the end. It was a really good race and went how I wanted it to, I didn't have any problems, so yeah all good. It was good to be out on course with all the other women but it would have been nice to have been set off a bit closer to the Elite women to see how you'd compare, but they were so far ahead this time that I couldn't do that, which is a shame as I seemed to be riding my race on my own. It was slightly disappointing to see so few junior girls, compared to the youth and the juvenile races, which had a great turnout! It seems that every age group I go into there's hardly any other girls! Hopefully as the season progresses we'll see a few more girls enter and we can get some good racing underway. Although I do like going round on my own it would be nice to have someone to race against. I've got a busy season ahead with road and track as well as mountain biking, but I'm taking it all in and enjoying everything I do, gaining experience and doing my best just having fun!

Bethany Crumpton - Juvenile: I did better than I expected really there were a lot of roadie girls on the start line today and it's a fast course so I was expecting a hard race. In the end I just rode away from them and rode my own race and concentrated on getting round. There were loads more girls in the race than last year which was loads better as it made it much harder with others to race against, it pushes you. I really enjoyed it, there were so many talented riders out there with me and you just have to get on with it and compete with them and have fun.

Debbie Burton - Grand Vet: Yeah good to kick the series off with a win and with competition! It was really good fun out there, really fast with hardly any time to get a rest anywhere, just fast and flowing. It was great to be out there with so many other women, it gave me loads of encouragement and I was picking off vets and quite a few of the masters along the way so that felt good, now I'm looking forward to the next one with hopefully even more women in the mix!

Nicky Hughes - vet: It was really nice to be lined up with so many other vet ladies, it makes such a change for there to be a huge field of women and it was really good fun. I went from the gun, as there were quite a few riders there that I hadn't seen before and wasn't sure on their form, so I went off and thought I'll see what happens. Nobody came with me, so I just pressed on and made some more time just in case I had a mechanical or something. It went really well. I was riding with some of the masters, riding and chatting and at one time I was working with Ruth (Mordaunt) so that was quite nice having people to ride round with. Catching people through the race just added to the fun. The course design was excellent especially where you came back into the arena and went back out so that all the supporters were there cheering you on, was so much better than one big lap. They got to see more of the race and we got loads more cheering! It's been a superb start to the year, nice fast course, dust on my bike, no mud, perfect, it couldn't get any better! Dalby should be awesome, it's always good to ride a new course and I think they'll try to come up with something extra special if it's to be a test race for the World Cup so that should be really nice.

Ruth Mordaunt - Master: I just wasn't expecting to do so well out there today, there are a lot of personal issues that I'm having to deal with at the moment, but I just went out there today and had some fun! I felt really strong and I just enjoyed every bit of it. I didn't realise there would be so many women on course today, I just turned up, didn't put any pressure on myself and enjoyed it. On the first lap I had a few tussles, but I just kept calm and chose the right moment to make my move and just went for it. It's surprising, you think Sherwood is pan flat, but it's not, there are plenty of little kicks that are perfect to make efforts and then the fire roads enable you to put the power down. I just put my head down and went for it. It's going to be a challenging year for me, with one thing and another, so my season is going to be hit and miss this year, so this is why it's such a surprise for me to do so well today, but this one is definitely for the family!

Rosara Joseph - Elite: That was really exciting, I was really impressed with the quality of the field. On this sort of course and with the quality riders that I was up against the race is so fast and although I tried over the first couple of laps to get away, I couldn't shake them off my tail. I wanted to make this a really good workout for me. I haven't done a lot of racing so far this year but I'm looking to do the World Cups, which kick off in a few weeks. I could have just sat in the group but I prefer to work hard. I hope to be able to do a few more rounds of the series, any that don't clash with World Cups, so definitely the next one for sure and maybe even one more after that.

Jody Crawforth - Elite: That was a tough race, with so many of us in contention. After the first lap there were about 20 of us battling it out, I felt comfortable out there but went to the front a few times just to keep the pace high. It was hard to get away it was pretty windy out there, so I just sat there, but towards the end I started getting cramp, but fortunately it went away and the last two laps I settled down and felt great. It was difficult to keep tabs on how many laps you'd done, but it was a good course, good race and of course I'm happy to win! I'm pleased with my form, seeing how I haven't done any top end training yet, so I'm surprised to win, but I'm happy to take it home. Towards the end Oli had a couple of digs, I was closing any gaps he opened pretty quick so I was confident if it came down to a sprint I could do the business. It's surprising hilly round here, it's a bit like Thetford on steroids, but it's so fast which makes it technical, but you have to be super strong to get away on a course like this. I'm looking forward to the next round now; I can show my climbing legs off there!

Steven James - Junior: I haven't been doing much specific training like speed work, I've just been riding the Gorricks, riding with the elites, riding with people who are faster than me and it seemed to have helped. I knew the juniors were going to be fast but I also knew I could fast for a bit longer than I needed to so that enabled me to pace myself for the race perfectly. Yeah so all those Gorricks were in preparation for this series. I knew the competition would be stiff, with Kenta (Gallagher) and Will (Verney) coming up into the juniors along with myself, so I thought I'd go hard from the start and try and break the field up a bit and see who it went. It's much better than sitting at the back and watching the race unfold. I ended up getting a surprise gap on the first lap and so I settled down and worked on making that gap bigger and continued riding the race solo and it worked out really well. I ended up 'winning' the expert race along the way too! I was expecting to catch up with the leader of that race so that was a real surprise especially as they had a 2 min head start on our race. I gotta say that the course isn't really my sort of course I much prefer the hills, so this course was a challenge. I'm not a road rider and it was very hard work but it was good to win the first National on a course that doesn't really suit me. I think I may well be a marked man now in the juniors!

Scott Thwaites - Expert: I didn't have the best start, as I was gridded at the back so it was all a bit hectic out there. Luckily the course was designed really well and gave me a chance to get through the field on the fire roads and then tucked into the singletrack. I sat in the lead group once I caught them for most of the first lap, but I seemed to be stuck on the wheels of riders who kept making mistakes so I thought if I got away I'd have a clear run through the woods and would be able to settle into my own rhythm and that's how it worked out. The leading junior caught me on his last lap when I still had a lap and a half to go, I stuck with him for a bit, he was riding really well and he helped me to pull away from my chasing group even more. I started to catch elites and they were really good, in fact everyone was really good out on the course. It was really good experience for me, I'm not really a mountain biker, I'm more of a cyclo cross and road rider so it was good to come here and win, especially coming from the back. I'm going to have a go at the whole series and the National champs, but it's not really my main focus of the year, it's just a bit of fun really and we'll see where it goes.

Oli Beckingsale - Elite: It's always going to be fast round a course like this and it's been so dry here, some of the peaty stuff was bone dry, so everyone was rolling well. It seemed they've put in even more winding singletrack, so yeah it was pretty intense. We had a big group out there, sometimes bigger than others. I put in a few digs to try and whittle the group down, but realised you can't get away on a course like this and was wasting my time, so decided to save it for the end. I realised that I was unlikely to win it if there were too many riders coming through to the end, so one was always hanging on behind me, it's hard to split it up especially when you're a little guy like me! I gave it half a lap and split the group by which time everyone was swinging but Jody and Fletcher were still on my wheel and both jumped me at the finish. For me if I can come to Sherwood and get on the podium, well that's the minimum standard. It's better for me to get stuck in for half a lap and come third than mucking it up completely and coming in 6th, so I just wanted a steady race out there and just finish. It's quite dangerous out there with all the ruts and stumps, plus I have an international race coming up next weekend so I wasn't in a rush today to finish completely knackered. I mean it's a mountain bike race and you have to try but there's a difference between finishing tired and finishing knackered. The first race of the UK season has been great, there's a real buzz about the place, Martyn has worked really hard, with pr and stuff and he's been well rewarded with a full field and of course the sun, it's what its all about. I've always said I would support the series, I don't have to do this but I want to do it, I like racing in the UK and I think it's important to support our own national series. I can't wait to hit the hills and get back into the environment I'm happier in, Dalby should be great fun.

Darrel Upton - Sport: I made a bit of a break on the first lap and no one came with me so dropped into the singletrack and just did what I could really to keep the rest of the race behind me. I'm very new to this, I've just come from 8 years of down hill and this is my first Cross-Country season so I'm still learning. I think Gary Foord has been a big influence on me and one of the reasons for the switch of disciplines and to take the win was one of my aims so it's all on course. It's early days and I've got a long way to go, but I'll carry on training and see what happens.

Dave Fletcher - Elite: It were good out there and a big change from last weekend where I had a double puncture so to come here on my home patch and do a good result, yeah that makes me happy. I don't think that race eased off one bit the whole 7 laps it was just full on for the entire 2 hrs, it was hard. Gareth did quite a bit as did Robin, actually quite a few people did a lot of work I was probably the only one that just sat in and didn't do anything, I just used my head and sat on their wheels and every now and then someone would go off the back and I would just go round them and get on the group and sit in. It was easy but it was good. I knew that racing at Sherwood it would undoubtedly come down to a sprint, but if I'd got a chance in that closing stages I would have gone for it and tried to get away but it was so fast you just couldn't make any headway. It's a good course but very technical, it was full on all the time, no places to rest but all good.

Victor Barnet - Super Vets: It's nice to start the season with a win, I like winning! There were quite a few of us out there and John was going well, he was giving me something to worry about early on, so it was good. It's brilliant here today the atmosphere around the racing is superb, the season should be fantastic.

Ian Wright - Grand Vet: It was quite surprising to get the first race of the season; I dunno why bet yeah it's a surprise. Great out there though I really enjoyed it especially with the new bike from Raleigh, it rode like a dream. I had a good season of cross and have done a lot of training and the course was brilliant. It was difficult getting past the backmarkers and you know you're always being chased and that spurs you on especially when you can't figure out who anyone is especially with loads of new faces. Still it's great fun can't wait for the next one now.

Mark Chadbourne - Vets: I'd love to try and dominate the series, if I can have as good a season as last year it would be absolutely fantastic. I'm using my race plan that I've been using for a few years now and I'm sticking to it. But you never know what you're going to face at a new series, new faces and unknown quantities. John (Veness) is definitely one man I'm going to have to keep a close eye on over the season, Daryl pushed him close and Daryl and I have had close scraps for a number of years. I'll have to keep an eye on those guys, I know they're going to be out for revenge big time. What a great course couple with fantastic weather and I'm so happy for Martyn Salt that the series has got a full entry. I've been in this sport a long time and I've seen the ups and the downs, and I know that it's probably going to peeve a few people that they can't enter on the day but the fact that the race sold out before the day sends out a great message that the sport of Cross-Country racing is alive and well. It was amazing to be on the start line and look of your shoulder and see so many people and with the racing there was so many dust clouds with riders racing hard all the way round and sometimes you were wondering how you'd get round all the backmarkers, but they were generally brilliant, they cleared the track when they could and I didn't get held up much and like any experienced rider you use the backmarkers to help you. It's such a great advert for the sport that there were so many riders and it was pretty friendly out there and it's great reward for Martyn as I know he's put in a lot of hard work over the years and to see him take back the reins of the series is fantastic for the sport.

Matt Barrett - Master: The master's race went pretty well for me! It started off fast, I got settled in pretty early and I just attacked on the second lap to see what the riders behind had. A group formed of about 5 riders and we were all together for the third and fourth laps. You have to treat this course a bit like a road race, with drafting and helping each other and on the last lap give it your all and that's exactly what I did! Going into the second to last corner I just put it in my big ring and off I went. Last year was a real battle about that's mountain bike racing you doesn't always go your way, so to get the win for the KTM team today was excellent. Me and Stephen worked really hard all the way round, he was really strong but I saved a bit for the end and came round him to take the win in a close sprint. I've been involved with the sport for a long time. I started back in the 90's then had a break for a few years and came back into it about 5 years ago as a sport ride, then I did a year as an expert and then an elite rider but I got injured and by time I got back to racing I was an old man! I'd turned 30 so I'm in the old man's race now! Though it's a joke between us all that this category should actually be called the old elites! It was great to be in a full field I haven't seen that since the 90's I think the sport is definitely on the up.

Stephen James - Master: That was hard, I planned at the beginning to drive the race from the front, it's the first race of the year and no one really knows who's on it and who's not so I just tried to push it and keep the pace up as much as I could and see who was left at the end really. I seemed to be really quick on the last third of the race and ended up with just the 3 of us. It was a close race, really hard, Matt just got me on experience really, but it was great. I left a little bit for the end too but Matt just had a bit extra. Last year was my first year doing the NPS and I had to learn an awful lot and there's a lot more to learn. I'm hoping there is a lot more to come when we hit the hillier courses, should be a great season.


Results

Elite - Female 

1 Rosara Joseph - 5 laps in 01:49:35
2 Jenn O`Connor Altura Patterson Training - 5 laps in 01:49:36
3 Melanie Spath Cycleways/Torq/Kcnc/Tcd - 5 laps in 01:50:20
4 Kate Potter Cotic Bontrager Race Team - 5 laps in 01:50:20
5 Jenny Copnall Look Rt - 5 laps in 01:50:23
6 Annie Last Team Halfords - 5 laps in 01:51:26
7 Lily Matthews Team Halfords - 5 laps in 01:51:33
8 Sharon Laws Team Halfords - 5 laps in 01:51:56
9 Sue Clarke Scienceinsport.Com - 5 laps in 01:52:58
10 Maddie Horton Team Certini - 5 laps in 01:53:24
11 Meggie Bichard Team Chance - 5 laps in 01:57:02
12 Gemma Collins Ako Ducati Corse Wct Uk - 5 laps in 01:58:09
13 Melanie Alexander Element Racing - 5 laps in 01:59:22
14 Nadine Spearing Altura Patterson Training - 5 laps in 02:02:20
15 Lesley Ingram Glentress Riders / G Force Training - 5 laps in 02:04:32
16 Nicola Duggan Ako Ducati Corse Women`S Cycling Team Uk - 5 laps in 02:06:06
17 Annabel Simpson Altura Patterson Training - 2 laps in 00:48:36


Elite - Male
1 Jody Crawforth - 7 laps in 02:13:57
2 David Fletcher Team Halfords - 7 laps in 02:13:58
3 Oli Beckingsale Giant - 7 laps in 02:13:59
4 Paul Oldham Hope Factory Racing - 7 laps in 02:13:59
5 Adrian Lansley Pedalon.Co.Uk - 7 laps in 02:14:06
6 Stuart Bowers Scott Uk - 7 laps in 02:14:19
7 Christopher Minter Pedalon.Co.Uk - 7 laps in 02:15:09
8 Gareth Montgomerie Colnago Marzocchi - 7 laps in 02:16:40
9 Robin Seymour Colnago Marzocchi - 7 laps in 02:16:41
10 Dan Booth Cyclingbargains.Com - 7 laps in 02:17:29
11 Billy-Joe Whenman Whyte Uk - 7 laps in 02:17:29
12 Ross Adams Red Kite Cycles/Torq Bar - 7 laps in 02:17:30
13 Robert Friel Ktm-Pod - 7 laps in 02:17:54
14 Lee Williams Team Wiggle - 7 laps in 02:18:59
15 Andrew Cockburn Cambridge Cc - 7 laps in 02:19:03
16 Duncan Jamieson Felt Racing - 7 laps in 02:19:03
17 Simon Ernest Aw Cycles.Co.Uk/Giant - 7 laps in 02:19:10
18 Nigel Martin Leisure Lakes - 7 laps in 02:19:11
19 Oliver Holmes Mini Adventure Racing - 7 laps in 02:19:24
20 Carl Sturgeon - Herwath CC 7 laps in 02:20:01
21 Ross Creber Plowman Craven / Madison - 7 laps in 02:20:02
22 Tim Dunford Mountain Trax/ Yeti/ Magura/ Torq - 7 laps in 02:20:44
23 Stuart Wearmouth Pulman Vw - 7 laps in 02:20:58
24 Jonathan Pugh Clee Cycles Kcnc High 5 - 7 laps in 02:21:30
25 Calum Chamberlain Mountain-Trax - 7 laps in 02:21:52
26 Nic Smith Moonglu Rt - 7 laps in 02:22:36
27 Dave Henderson Pedalpower.Org.Uk/Endura Rt - 7 laps in 02:22:41
28 Sebastian Batchelor Team Halfords - 7 laps in 02:23:35
29 Dave Collins Teamsis.Com - 7 laps in 02:23:43
30 Ryan Sherlock Cycleways/Torq/Kcnc - 7 laps in 02:23:45
31 Paul Robertson Msc Bikes/Sportstest - 7 laps in 02:23:51
32 Hamish Batchelor Sportscover - 7 laps in 02:23:58
33 Peter Hawkins - 7 laps in 02:29:41
34 Llewellyn Holmes Bad Ass Bikes - 7 laps in 02:32:34
35 Matt Loake Southfork Racing - 7 laps in 02:33:23
36 Anthony O`Boyle Mojo-Orange - 7 laps in 02:34:15
37 Matthew Weston - 7 laps in 02:38:52
38 Andrew Howett Swcc/Station Fitness - 7 laps in 02:41:37
39 Patrick Cobb Worcester Cycle Centre - 6 laps in 02:14:35
40 Ben Simmons Team Wiggle - 5 laps in 01:48:56
41 Nick Collins Team Torq - 4 laps in 01:20:34
42 Chris Andrews Mountain Trax - 4 laps in 01:21:03
43 John Whittington Bath University - 4 laps in 01:23:17
44 Paul Smith Sandy Wallace Cycles - 4 laps in 01:30:32
45 Allan Clark Sandy Wallace - 2 laps in 00:42:24
46 Richie Felle Thinkbike/Trek - 1 laps in 00:29:18


Expert - Female

1 Emma Smith Emma Smith - 4 laps in 01:36:06
2 Jessie Roberts Www.Mischiefcard.Com - 4 laps in 01:36:40
3 Rachel Fenton Ben Hayward Cycles/ Over The Hill - 4 laps in 01:39:47
4 Katie Collins - 4 laps in 01:40:10
5 Anna Buick Thetford Mtb/Salsa - 4 laps in 01:40:33
6 Fran Mundy - 4 laps in 01:42:02
7 Ruth Owen-Evans Yeti Cycles UK - 4 laps in 01:45:58
8 Lucy Marshall Rhyl Cc - 4 laps in 01:52:33
9 Lydia Gould - Torq/Kona 4 laps in 02:07:39
10 Jasmine Adams Wyre Forest - 2 laps in 00:50:21
11 Sarah Holmes - 1 laps in 00:24:16


Expert - Male

1 Scott Thwaites Crosstrax - 5 laps in 01:40:13
2 Sion O`Boyle Mojo-Orange - 5 laps in 01:42:51
3 George Budd Salsa Factory Racing - 5 laps in 01:42:51
4 Jon Pybus Pedal Power/ Loughborough Uni - 5 laps in 01:42:52
5 Ryan Bevis Bad Ass Bikes - 5 laps in 01:43:22
6 Graham Martin - 5 laps in 01:43:24
7 Mike Blewitt - 5 laps in 01:43:53
8 Giles Drake Msc Bikes - 5 laps in 01:44:01
9 Douglas Shearer Inners Mtb Racing I-Cycles - 5 laps in 01:44:26
10 Simon Allard Offcamber/Scott - 5 laps in 01:44:32
11 Greig Walker Erc - 5 laps in 01:44:33
12 Joe Richards Wheelbase.Co.Uk/Gore Bike Wear - 5 laps in 01:44:47
13 Gary Record Vc Deal - 5 laps in 01:44:58
14 Niall Frost Team Milton Keynes - 5 laps in 01:44:59
15 Charlie Evans Will`S Wheels - 5 laps in 01:45:04
16 Phil Lenney Activ/Springstarter.Com - 5 laps in 01:45:39
17 Steve Halsall Velo Club Moulin - 5 laps in 01:45:54
18 Nick Evans Beyond Mountain Bikes / Specialized / New Ultimate - 5 laps in 01:46:22
19 Chris Lane Torq - 5 laps in 01:46:26
20 Eric Pettett Yeti Cycles Uk/Chris King/Lake/Kenda - 5 laps in 01:46:36
21 Warren Bates Mountain Trax - 5 laps in 01:46:46
22 Jack Richards Deeside Thistle Cc - 5 laps in 01:46:58
23 Paul Wilkinson Beyond Mtb/ Specialized/ New Ultimate - 5 laps in 01:47:16
24 Peter Goode - 5 laps in 01:49:12
25 Matt Stevens Colour TRI RT - 5 laps in 01:49:46
26 Joe Andrews Votwo.Co.Uk - 5 laps in 01:49:58
27 Scott Chappell Pedalon.Co.Uk - 5 laps in 01:50:08
28 Chris Pedder Ben Hayward Cycles/Oth - 5 laps in 01:50:09
29 James Hampshire Xcracer.Com 29Ers - 5 laps in 01:50:11
30 Pete Humphreys - RAF CC 5 laps in 01:50:49
31 Gareth Whittall Beauvale CC - 5 laps in 01:51:45
32 Christopher Bell University of St Andrews - 5 laps in 01:53:31
33 James Dalton Salsa Factory Racing - Thetford MTB 5 laps in 01:53:43
34 Scott O`Neill-Gwilliams Stourbridge Velo - 5 laps in 01:54:12
35 James Williams MTB Marathon.co.uk - 5 laps in 01:54:28
36 Christian Aucote - Kenda/Haro/Goldtec 5 laps in 01:56:13
37 Mark Goodman Bayeux Landscapes - 5 laps in 01:56:46
38 Daniel Shoreman Yorkshire Velo - 5 laps in 02:01:45
39 Ben Roach Wyre Forest - 3 laps in 01:00:57
40 Jason Hucklesby Msc Bikes - 3 laps in 01:03:57
41 Joel Shotton - clee-cycles.co.uk/KCNC 3 laps in 01:05:54
42 Henry Turgoose - 2 laps in 00:42:31
43 Michael Coward Velo29 Cycling Team - 2 laps in 00:43:01
44 Chris Dobson Southdown Velo/ Geared Bikes - 2 laps in 00:44:41
45 Sean Frost - 1 laps in 00:21:13