||Follow britishcycling.org.uk on
Report: British XC Series Round 2
17 April 2011
Promoted By: Inevent
Race HQ: Dalby Forest, Yorkshire
Words And Photography By Luke Webber
Video By Rob And Ciaran Barker
Visiting riders Geoff Kabush and Julie Bresset were the big winners at the UCI C1-ranked British XC Series this weekend. Held as a prelude to the UCI World Cup round, due to be held at Dalby Forest in five weeks, the second round of the pinnacle of national XC competition had a cosmopolitan feel; seven different nations represented on the front row of the Elite men's grid.
All chasing important points for Olympic qualification notable absentees were British Champion Liam Killeen and British under-23 Champion Dave Fletcher, both choosing to complete their race preparations for the opening UCI World Cup of the season in South Africa on the Pietermaritzburg course which will open the global cross-country season seven days from now.
Top British representation at the British XC Series would therefore come from Oli Beckingsale - multiple British Champion, Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist.
And in the early stages of the race it was indeed Beckingsale who made the running, taking to the front and leading French visitor Maxime Marotte and Norweigen Ole Christian Fagerli through the dusty Worry Gill and Medusas Drop.
Exiting Worry Gill toward the arena for the first time, Beckingsale, Marotte and Fagerli had a scant lead on Geoff Kabush and Lee Williams. As Kabush was content to dangle off of the leaders for some time an order established itself - Williams dropping slightly off of the pace to battle alongside David Rosa as the chasers disintegrated and found their way.
Initially Adrian Lansley and Gareth Montgomerie led the way, but Lansley snapped his rear derailleur on lap three and as a crack squad of riders including Kenta Gallagher, Nick Craig, Billy Whenman, Robin Seymour, Tim Wynants, Ola Kjoren and Steve James formed, there was a re-positioning of power in the main field.
Riders who had chosen to start gently on a course reknowned for its constant physical toughness - despite the omission of part of the Adderstone loop and Dixon's Hollow - came to the fore; and at the front Beckingsale decided to apply pressure.
As Kabush gained contact with the lead group on the start of lap three, he was reminded to never underestimate the power of the stick; Beckingsale awaking Kabush on the third summit of Medusas, before blowing the field apart on the following climbs.
With two laps to go just Beckingsale and Kabush remained, Marotte holding third and Fagerli fourth. Williams began to suffer and was forced to relinquish fifth place to Rosa, while a hard-charging Steve James took the lead under-23 position and third-placed British rider in the race.
At the head of the field, Beckingsale and Kabush were left to battle between themselves; Beckingsale on a hardtail gaining a lead on the climbs and Kabush on a full-suspension nullifying any gains on the flat.
For Beckingsale, his advantage was lost with the smallest of errors - a jumping gear at the bottom of Medusas allowed Kabush to latch onto the wheel, cancelling out Beckingsale's biggest advantage point on the course.
From here, Kabush had the ideal platform to punish the Brit on the rough descents and in convincing style, the Canadian entered the arena with a textbook race-winning celebration.
Ten seconds later Beckingsale brought home second position, while Marotte, Fagerli and Rosa completed the podium.
Julie Bresset unleashed a devestating attack to win the second round of the British XC Series, following a race-long battle with British Champion and World Championship silver medallist Annie Last.
Billed as a three-woman showdown, the race started short of 2004 Olympic winner Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesja, who despite flying in and riding the course on Friday, fell ill and did not take to the line.
One rider down, the event was nonetheless competitive from the start; Last leading Bresset and Lily Matthews through the opening gambits of Worry Gill and Medusas Drop. Matthews dropped off the pace on one of the deciding climbs - but crucially had already inflicted huge damage to the chasers behind; Lee Craigy and Mel Spath alone and posing only minor threat at this stage.
As the laps rolled over two things became clear; Last was hoping to damage Bresset on her home descents and Matthews was under growing pressure from a hard charging Craigy and Spath.
Each time through Worry Gill, Last hoped to exploit her technical prowess - both on the descent and the exiting rock climb. But Bresset was each time her equal - despite some probing attacks on the final lap.
Each move was to try and disable Bresset from a trademark attack on the final rise out of Medusas Drop - but it was unfortunately in vain as the Frenchwoman broke free at the last moment to claim the win.
Further back, Matthews had succeeded in holding off the challenge from Lee Cragie to finish third.
The British XC Series returns for round three in Wasing, on June 12.
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.