Report: British XC Series Round 5 - Plymouth
Posted September 26 2010 | Photography By Joolze Dymond
Oli Beckingsale concluded his 2010 race season with the title of British XC Series Champion at the final round in Plymouth.
Starting the race alongside Liam Killeen, Beckingsale needed to beat the British Champion in order to take the British XC Series, and set about the task by leading on lap one with Lee Williams and Ole Fagerli. Killeen was twenty seconds back at this stage, but losing a further thirty seconds on lap two effectively put him out of the race for the Series.
Beckingsale continued to race on, first dropping Williams and then Fagerli with two laps to go. Taking the win by 36 seconds, a sprint for the podium spots kept the crowd guessing - Williams and Fagerli coming into the arena together - the Welshman returning to form and taking the runners-up spot.
In the women's race an international lineup escaped on lap one - Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesja and Rosara Joseph sneaking a 30 second gap on marathon specialist Sally Bigham.
Dahle and Joseph obviously didn't want company and continued their pace until the penultimate lap, always holding Bigham - in her first national-level XC race - at a thirty-second margain.
Come the final lap however, it was back to full race speed and the Norweigen Dahle had the measure of New Zealander Joseph, by nine seconds. Bigham was first Brit across the line, one minute fifteen seconds back, with Canadian Amanda Sin in fourth at six minutes.
Joolze Dymond's Weekend Report:
The final round of the British Mountain Bike Series took place in the hallowed grounds of Newnham Park, widely regarded as the home of mountain biking in the UK having played host to some of the best international XC action to have reached these shores back in the heady ‘90s and without missing a beat Newnham Park continues to this tradition.
For international stars such as Gunn Rita Dahle Flesja, Newnham is where they cut their international racing teeth and with such favourites such as the Pipeline and not forgetting the infamous river crossings, it continues to provide a worthy battle ground to decide the overall series titles.
After a year long battle, in many cases just a handful of points separated winners from losers and the compact, technical strewn, hilly 6km course would be make or break for many.
Setting the scene, on the Friday night, prior to the events that were to unfold, was the ultra competitive Team Relay, a giant game of tag, played by teams of 4, each team member sprinting for all they're worth over a short off road track before handing onto the next team member, first team back, wins it all. Dymond All Stars, got proceedings off to a rapid start, but had to concede to defeat by Team GB despite a valiant effort by Billy Joe Whenman who was held at bay by a very rapid Katy Winton!
As race day dawned, it soon became clear that summer was well and truly over as the crisp blue skies amplified the chilly nip. With two river crossings to be negotiated it was going to be a cold, wet race.
With the elite women up first, it was a refreshing sight to see a comprehensive gathering of classy riders headed by the queen of XC racing herself Gunn Rita Dalhe Flesja.
Leading the points race was Lee Craigie with Rosara Joseph hot on her tail for the Series win. As the race got underway it was soon clear that Gunn Rita meant business over the technical 6km course, and it soon became clear to everyone involved this wasn't going to be a walk in the park! Only Rosara Joseph could stay with the rapid Norwegian. And as the 5 lap race developed a real game of cat and mouse was played out with Joseph and Gunn Rita trying to outwit each other, while the rest of the field got on with racing for the minor podium spots in their wake.
British interest came from marathon specialist, Sally Bigham, turning her hand to national XC racing for the first time, she found herself in the unquantifiable no mans land as she tried hard to bridge the gap up to the leaders.
By lap 5 the gloves were well and truly off with Gunn Rita and Joseph trading attacks. A slip up in the final water crossing provided Gunn Rita with all she needed to make a gap and run with it taking the win 9 seconds clear of Joseph, who claimed the overall series as consolation, while XC novice Bigham, rode an extraordinary good race to snatch third from more experienced riders, just 75 seconds off the pace.
With Expert rider Adele Carter sidelined due to injury, the way was clear for at least one round of the series to be claimed by another rider, that turned out to be Natasha Barry coming home nearly 7 minutes clear of Danielle Rider. Rider's consistence over the year paid off as she picked up the overall series win, forfeited by Carter. The Master's women race once again saw a face off between archrivals Emma Bradley and Jo Munden. Bradley set a fast opening pace, leaving Munden playing catch up, however over the four laps, Munden slowly reeled in Bradley going on to take the win and despite equalling on points, the series to add to her National title.
Adding another win to her previous three was more than enough for Juvenile Lucy Grant to take the series title, while Bethany Crumpton put a difficult year behind her ending on a high with the race win and with it the series title.
Both the juvenile and the youth boy's races were close run affairs with just a handful of seconds separating the top three in each category. Jack Ravenscroft took the win in the juveniles by just 19 seconds, his first spot narrowly awarding him the series title, while a closely run race with anyone of seven youth contenders mixed in the action ready to steal the march, it was Alex Peters who finally took the win by a crowd pleasing sprint just two seconds ahead of Tom Evans. Ryan Fenwick's seventh spot was enough to secure the series title.
For the Elite men, all eyes were on Oli Beckingsale and Liam Killeen, with little separating the two on points this all deciding round would be make or break for the overall title. A schoolboy error on the part of Killeen, missing his call up on the grid, meant he started the race on row five and at a distinct disadvantage, one that Beckingsale took full advantage of.
From the gun, Beckingsale was like a ferret up a drainpipe, crashing through the water and sprinting up the first of three tough climbs, with only Norwegian Ole Fagerli and Lee Williams for company. By lap one Killeen already had a deficit of 30 seconds to make up, one that would be hard to close even by a determined Killeen.
By lap two Williams was dangling on the back of Beckingsale and Fagerli like an old piece of elastic, tantalisingly close but not in the action. By lap five Beckingsale had made his move dropping a tiring Fagerli on a hill attack, leaving the Giant rider out in front and riding for gold and taking the win. Williams found a second wind and hunted down the Norwegian, treating the crowd to another sprint finish as he blasted past claiming second, with Killeen over 2 minutes down on Beckingsale taking fourth and conceding the series title to the Giant rider.
First year junior Grant Ferguson underlined his impressive season with a comprehensive win, picking off the elites on his way to take the series win overall, while Katy Winton made it a clean sweep in the Juniors, adding the series win to her British title earned earlier in the year. While Expert rider Giles Drake continued his near clean sweep of the series taking his fourth win and with it the series title, virtually unheeded by his rivals.
In the final race of the day, it was time for the ‘old' boys to take to the trails. Steve James and Scott Forbes, blazing their way at the front, once again took on the ultra competitive Masters race. James's race ended prematurely with a mechanical, leaving Forbes in the company of Simon Ernest. By lap five Ernest had made a move that would prove to be decisive, bringing him home 48 seconds clear of Forbes for his first win of the series. Forbes had to be content with the runners up prize of the overall series.
Both riders are now contemplating the daunting thought of moving up to Elite to give the rest of the master's field a chance to see the front! In the Veterans race, Paul Hopkins, found himself the wrong side of the winning line for once, conceding to Mark Hutt. However with four previous wins to his name he romped unhindered to the overall series title. Having tasted the need for speed in XC racing, endurance racer James Lister once again commanded the Sport race from the front, taking his fourth win of the series to secure the series title and underline his dominance in the category.
As the final rays of the sun began to falter, all thoughts now turned to even more racing, with first the future stars taking to the trails, with a good turn out of youngsters fighting their own mini battles. Then it was dark and Elvis was in the building.... Time undoubtedly for the fun that is Floodlit Cyclo cross racing, run by the excellent Southwest Cyclo Cross association.
It proved so much fun the previous year that it was back by public demand and now with added rock n roll! Once again it was the driving forces of Paul Oldham, Dave Collins and Jody Crawforth that took on the race as it snaked its way, labyrinth like around the arena. After plenty of attacks and Vegas dollars, it was Crawforth who took the win, ending they day on a high. Soon it was time to rock the jailhouse, as the live band, played to a packed crowd dancing the night away!