Report: British XC Series Round 3
Beckingsale wins again, Joseph dominates
Oli Beckingsale and Rosara Joseph took the wins at a very muddy Margam Park, as the British XC Series reached its halfway mark. We've got the first results and reports, with a full photo and video roundup.
For Beckingsale, the win was a personal victory, proving that good form was in place after a mediocre start to the season. While winning on a Sherwood course that has never suited the Bristolian at round one of the British XC Series was important, the real test was always to come through the opening three rounds of the World Cup season.
Dalby, Houffalize and Offenburg was the lineup, but top forty results showed the effect getting sick in a crucial pre-season training phase has on an elite athlete. Coupled with an unfortunate mechanical at Offenburg, Beckingsale's confidence needed a boost and Margam provided it.
On the toughest domestic XC course since the 2009 British Championships at Innerleithen - a race where Beckingsale and Killeen's lead over the chasing pack was over ten minutes - a similar order was set in south Wales.
Usually renowned for being unbearably hot, it was the first time in eight years that Margam hosted a wet, cold race - with visibility on the top of the hill reduced to 20 metres in parts. From the traditional tarmac start, Beckingsale was left fighting in tenth despite a front-row gridding, but it wasn't long before both Killeen and Beckingsale were at the head of the race.
Riding together through lap one, the current (Killeen) and previous British Champions held a 45 second lead from Dave Fletcher, with Nick Craig making a landmark appearance in fourth. Behind Craig it was the best of the British regions represented; Robin Seymour for Ireland, Lee Williams for Wales and Jody Crawforth and Adrian Lansley from the south of England - Lansley returning from a broken finger at the last round.
By lap three gaps were becoming more pronounced on a course which needed both mountain bike and cyclocross skills. Beckingsale used this time to press on one of the many famed Margam climbs, opening a gap of 13 seconds on Killeen, getting a minute cushion on lap four. And while Killeen did have his trademark fast finish, Beckingsale was good for his second win of the series, to the tune of forty seconds.
Killeen's runner-up position meant he gained the lead in the British XC Series overall standings, while Nick Craig progressed to finish third on the day; effecting the points hopes of those beyond the top two positions.
Lee Williams was the worst hit by this; finishing in sixth, closely followed by Jody Crawforth in eighth who suffered a puncture. Both will be anticipating this as the round to drop as their worst in the competition. Securing fourth place on the day, Dave Fletcher will likely have seen this as a result to salvage a podium position by the time the final round at Newnham Park comes around.
Elite Men Result:
1 Oli Beckingsale 2:05:18
2 Liam Killeen +00:41
3 Nicholas Craig +03:55
4 David Fletcher +06:20
5 Robin Seymour + 06:31
6 Lee Williams +08:54
7 Robert Wardell +10:48
8 Jody Crawforth +11:06
9 Adrian Lansley +13:13
10 Dave Henderson +15:04
11 Sebastian Batchelor +16:21
12 Billy Whenman +16:35
13 Christopher Minter +17:58
14 Tim Dunford +19:06
15 Robert Friel +22:23
16 Jamie Harris +22:50
17 Sion O'boyle +23:51
18 Andrew Cockburn +23:52
19 George Budd +30:53
20 Andrew Wadsworth +33:35
For the Elite women similarly heavy rain turned the freshly cut Margam course into a mudbath. Lining up there was only one absentee from the favourites; after winning at round one, Annie Last missed her second consecutive race of the series, suffering from a virus. Her position on the line was filled though, with the return of Sue Clarke.
Racing her first British XC Series event of 2010, Clarke was continuing her return after an enforced early season break. Having raced the Sunshine Cup events in February, a bad back and virus counted her out of the World Cup and National season openers from March through May, Clarke returning in last weeks Midlands Championships.
Alongside Clarke, round two winner Lily Matthews would race on home soil, while New Zealander Rosara Joseph returned from her second-place at round one, with Kate Potter, Lee Craigie and Maddie Horton adding depth to the lineup.
From the line it was clear that Joseph was intent on showing her full top-twenty World Cup potential, which resulted in a decimation of the entire field. On lap one the lead to Matthews was over two minutes, while Kate Potter - still unwell but opting to try and race - was forced to retire.
Matthews should have been good for second, but a puncture robbed her of that position and she was instead faced with a slow return and points salvation mission. For Maddie Horton it was a similarly disasterous story; a crash on one of the many slippery descents sent her to hospital for 25 stitches - all of which meant the podium positions were wide open!
Lee Craigie, who showed promise at round one - finishing fifth in a highly competitive race - converted that to second position in the Margam muck. Meanwhile, Caitlin Elliot held off a late charge by Sue Clarke to grab the final podium position.
For the series, this means Lily Matthews remains at the head of the standings; but only just ahead of Lee Craigie who jumps from fifth to second spot.