Oli Beckingsale (Endura MTB Racing) and Lee Craigie (Lapierre UK) both took the race win and the National Points series overall in the Elite Male and Female races on Saturday at Langdon Hills country Park in Essex.
The final round, which had been re-scheduled from a water logged July, could have proved a damp squib with a lot of categories already decided and riders missing but good numbers in all three races proved the fast course would offer a day of fine racing.
barring any disasters, the Elite Series trophy would have Oli Beckingsale's name written on it by the end of the day and the Endura rider made sure of that with a fine win in the elite race.
Attacking from the gun, Beckingsale was soon away from the main field taking Dave Fletcher (Orange monkey/Canondale), Dan Fleeman (Cycle-shack/forme Coaching), Steve James (Hargroves/Specialized), Gareth Montgomerie (GT Racing) and Fletcher's team mate Dan Blackwell along.
The five riders worked well together on the opening few laps and a gap of 15 seconds separated the five from a chasing Paul Oldham (Hope Factory) and Fluid Fin's Hamish Batchelor.
The lead group were still away on the third lap but the sharp climbs were beginning to tell on the riders faces, James had apparently had a bike problem and had dropped back, Oldham was still a little way back but looked comfortable and was still in with a shout.
The status quo remained on the fourth lap but the following lap saw the pace increase and Beckingsale, Fleeman, Montgomerie, Blackwell and Fletcher had broke the elastic and were now some 50 seconds ahead of Oldham.
Ben Thomas (Mountain Trax RT) had worked his way up to 6th place with Sebastian Batchelor sitting in 7th. With two laps to go the same five riders were still away with Oldham consolidating his 6th place but it was the bell lap that saw Beckingsale up the ante breaking the small group into single pieces.
Montgomerie was some 20 seconds adrift trying to chase back to the race leader, Fleeman was a further 30 seconds adrift and Fletcher was sitting in 4th. Beckingsale crossed the line on his own in 1:37:12 and taking his third successive win of the series and the series title.
Montgomerie held onto his 2nd spot and Dan Fleeman crossed the line in 3rd, Fletcher was 4th and Oldham completed the podium in 5th.
Oli Beckingsale had this to say after his win: “The priority today was to win the series so I really had to win the race because if Fletch won I had to get top five.
“It’s been a strange series this year, to go from a DNF, a 9th place then to finish with three wins.
“From the last round in Plymouth last year to end up here is just great, I'm riding well, I've just been selected to ride at the Worlds which is a couple of weeks away and I know I can do a decent job there to justify my selection, to be selected really from the NPS is not the usual route but it would be nice to repay my selection.
“I have a history of pulling good results out of competitions, I may not be the rider I was in 2008 or in 2005 when I was top 10 in the world but I know I can still do a good job in a Team GB jersey.
“Hopton Woods was the turning point for me this year, I was starting to doubt myself but as I said after that race it felt like I had just won my first race and to turn that round and win my ninth national series.
“It’s good for my sponsors Endura racing, they have been really good to me, they've let me get on with my racing, they haven't given me any stress and are behind me 100%.
“Getting to this point is all about hard work, recovering from an injury is all about hard work, I wouldn't have got here today if I'd have felt sorry for myself.”
Series runner-up, David Fletcher said: “The race was pretty full on from the start. I did my turns with the rest of the break, it was the fifth lap that Becksy put in a huge effort while we were at the feed, we tried to go with him but he had conserved a lot of energy during the race and we couldn't go with him.
“I had to win today and Oli had to finish seventh I think but it was a long shot to be fair. I've had a pretty good season this year, 2nd in the Nationals and a couple of good rounds in this series.
“I've been picked to go to the Worlds which I'm looking forward to, all my training this years has been focussed on the Worlds and I think I'm just coming into form for that.”
In the women’s elite race, a win today for Lee Craigie would secure the overall 2012 MTB XC Series and the Lapierre UK rider made no mistake in securing that win with a dominant ride in the first race of the day.
Craigie soon got the upper hand on the quick Langdon Hills course and started to ease away from Jessie Roberts on the opening lap, pulling out a small lead of some 20 seconds.
Maxine Filby who went into the race just four points ahead of Roberts was locked together with Mel Alexander, also guaranteed a top overall placing and Joanne Clay.
The three riders were a handful of seconds adrift of Roberts. The heavy rain that was forecast held off till the end of the day and the course remained dry allowing for a fast race and by the midway point Craigie was on a charge, increasing the gap between herself and Roberts to 35 seconds.
Filby had broke away from her two race companions but was some 60 seconds adrift of Roberts.
Alexander and Clay were still together but were now 30 seconds behind Filby and barring any misfortunes the order of the race looked as though it would remain as it was.
Craigie piled on the pressure and with two laps to go was well over 90 seconds to the good of a chasing Roberts.
Filby was holding to 3rd place but it wasn't going to be enough to secure an overall podium position.
At the bell Craigie had again increased her lead and was now a little over two minutes to the good of Roberts who was in a strong position now to take 2nd on the day and 3rd overall.
Craigie didn't ease off on the final lap and crossed the line some two minutes ahead of Roberts.
Maxine Filby took 3rd on the day and Mel Alexander rolled in 4th but had done enough to secure 4th overall.
Craigie said: “I felt pretty comfortable today, I went hard on the opening laps and then really just settled into my race.
“I've got some pretty good form at the moment because I'm training through this race for the Worlds in a couple of weeks.
“I think most of the girls seem to be easing off but I'm going the other way. The course was fast, a lot of fun to race but it wasn't technical at all.
“I worry doing British races that aren't technical then having to race the Worlds and World Cup races that are technical courses, it’s a huge step up. I think ideally We need to be thinking about those sorts of courses in the U.K.”
Second-placed Jessie Roberts commented: “Second in the race and third overall, I'm pretty pleased with that result.
“I went well at the Nationals but I wasn't too sure if I'd keep my fitness for today but it seemed to go ok.
“I rode the course last night in practice but I wasn't that sure about it but it races really well, it’s a hard course, there’s a lot a short sharp climbs which after six laps start to hurt the legs.
“I'm doing the three peaks in a few weeks time for the first time ever, I may be doing a few cross races this year but that’s nothing definite, it depends on where my new job takes me to be honest.”
In the Sport female race, Fern Henry took the victory completing her four laps in 1:15:31 and taking the overall series victory.
Emily Iredale (Cycleworks.co.uk) took the win in the Master female race from RideBike's Liz Gilmore. Caroline Goward (Scott Contessa) won the overall series with an unassailable 224 points.
A fine win by Rebecca Preece in the junior race saw the Red Rose rider consolidate her 3rd place standing in the overall, Alice Barnes (Twenty3c-Orbea) rolled across the line almost two minutes adrift to take 2nd spot but with Beth Crumpton not racing it was enough to secure the overall victory in the series.
In the Youth female race Isla Short just held on to cross the line ahead of Abergavenny RC Ffion James and 3rd was Martha Gill, all three girls consolidating their positions in the overall standing.
With Series leader Nadia Wouters not taking the start grid, it was left to Boneshakerbikes's Amber Southern to complete her five laps and take the race and the series with three wins this year.
Phoebe Martin (Wolverhampton Wheelers) took her first win of the series in the juvenile Girls race finishing her two laps in 42:47, Ria and Jade Mobbs crossed the line 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Emily Wadsworth (Beeline Bicycles) took the series win with four wins from four. In the veteran female race Nicky Hughes (Scott Contessa) took a fine win from Moray Firth's Anne Murray completing five laps in 1:37:40. It wasn't enough to take the overall from Murray but she jumped a place over Helen MacGregor to take 2nd overall.
Fiona Paton (Ben Wyvis Bike Club) crossed the line just 13 seconds ahead of series champion Kim Long in the Grand Vet female race, Carol Tilley took 2nd place overall finishing 4th in the days race.
Dan Tulett (Hargroves/Specialized) made up for his disappointment in the Nationals buy storming to a fifth victory in the juvenile boys race completing three laps in 46:29.
National Champion Will Gascoyne (Matlock CC) was the only rider to get close to Tullet crossing the line in 48:03. David Barnes (Condor Cycles) was third crossing the line in 50:20.
The youth boys race would prove to be the explosive category in race one. With back to back wins in the previous two rounds and the overall series wrapped up, National champion Billy Harding (Paul Milnes) wasn't out for a gentle spin and along with Dylan Kerfoot-Robson attacked from the gun and the two never eased off for their three laps.
Arthur Green (Matlock CC) managed to escape from Solihull's Jack Ravenscroft on the final lap after the two rode away from a group of five on the second lap but was too far back to make an attack on the two leaders.
Kerfoot-Robson took the sprint from Harding finishing in 45:28, a mere second to the good of Harding. Ravenscroft fought back on the final lap but green managed to hang on to 3rd crossing the line in 46:10, two seconds ahead of the Solihull rider.
It was all to play for in the junior male race, with the series far from decided. Tom Evans (Ben Wyvis) and Alex Welburn (Cycle-shack/Forme Coaching) made a fast start and were soon out on their own opening up a small gap on a chasing pack of Michael Thompson (TEF/Richardsons) and Sam Stean (Solid State Biking), Iain Paton(CNP-Orbea) and Matt Thompson(Cardiff JIF), locked together some 10 seconds adrift of Stean.
Welburn and Evans were working well together and on the penultimate lap had increased their lead to 40 seconds on a chasing group of Stean, Thompson and Paton.
Evans and Welburn stayed away on the final lap, Evans taking the win by one second completing his four laps in 58:14, Thompson crossed the line in 3rd seven seconds ahead of Stean who completed his four laps in 59:13.
John Hopkinson (Aire Valley) took a popular win in the Expert male race and taking him to 2nd overall in the series standings.
The series win had been wrapped up in the previous round by Jason Bouttell (Ultimate Fitness) taking four wins from four outings.
Michael Guilford (VC Meudon) took 3rd spot, Dirtwheels Cycles' Dieter Droger could only manage 4th place but was enough to secure a fine 3rd overall in the series.
Richard Philips-Schofield (Hantspol CC) took the victory in the sport male category completing his five laps in 1:17:03, 20 seconds ahead of 2nd place Joe Norledge (Velo 29-OTR-Vankru). Third spot went to Dexter Hurlock (Team Certini-McCauley).
Luke Smith took the win in the final round of the masters race for the 4th time this season.
Competing in his recently won National Champions jersey the Whyte bike-sponsored rider made his customary dash from the gun pulling out a lead over the rest of the field and leaving them to play catch up for the rest of the race.
Smith, as always worked hard on the opening lap to gain half a minute over a chasing Simon Ernest (AW Cycles), Roy Davies (Paul Bethall) and Ian Bendall (Cycle Coaching Wales) were locked together but were well over a minute down on Ernest.
The pace settled down on the 2nd lap and the gaps remained constant but on lap 3 Ernest, albeit slight was making inroads to Smith, Davies had dropped time on the 2 leaders but had made a move on Bendall and was now 40 seconds ahead, Marc Chamberlain and Andy Taylor had moved unto Bendall and the 3 were riding well together.
By the 4th time around Langdon country park Smith had made his customary move and upped his game and was now well over a minute ahead of the chasing Ernest who couldn't seem to make inroads to the recently crowned National champion. Davies was now almost 2 minutes adrift of Davies and Chamberlain had ridden away from his previous lap 2 partners.
With the bell ringing Smith again increased his lead over Ernest who had in turn put more time into Davies. Smith completed his 6 laps in 1.29.25 just over 2 minutes ahead of Ernest, Davies kept his 3rd spot on the podium outsprinting Chamberlin and crossing the line 1 second to the good.
Afterwards, Luke Smith said: “I wanted to go out there today and do the national champions jersey justice but Simon didn't make things easy for me. He wasn't too far behind on the opening laps, my intention was to go out and enjoy the race but he didn't let me.
“It was a course you had to stay on top of, with the hills and the extra couple of laps, you could feel it towards the end of the race. That’s 4 wins and a 2nd place in the series so I'm really happy with that, to win the National Championships and now the series I am really chuffed, this year couldn't have gone any better for me.”
Lewis King (Beeline Bicycles) took a fine win in the Veteran race beating Ian Taylor (Craven Energy) into second spot from a sprint finish.
The two riders rode locked together along with series winner Paul Hopkins (Merida Factory) for the duration of the race, Hopkins just easing off on the final 2 laps, job done.
National Champion Peter Harris (Pearce Cycles) took the victory in the Grand Vet race crossing the line alone some 2.21 ahead of 2nd placed Robert Jackson (WDMBC beyond mountain bike),Team Jewson’s Tim Stowe was third.
It was all to play for in the Super vets race, Vic Barnett (Wellend Valley) had tied the series up on the previous round , taking 4 wins from 4 outings, Derwentside CC's Colin Murley rose to the challenge to take the win from Denis Smith to give him 2nd place overall in the series. Smith finished in 2nd spot behind Murley and secured 3rd overall in the series.
1.Oli Beckingsale (Endura MTB Racing) 1:37:12
2.Gareth Mongomerie (GT Racing) 1:37:56
3.Dan Fleeman (Cycleshack/Forme Coaching) 1:38:28
4.David Fletcher (Orange Monkey/Cannondale) 1:38:45
5.Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing) 1:39:03
6.Ben Thomas (Mountain Trax RT) 1:40:20
7.Adrian Lansley (Pedalon.co.uk) 1:40:51
8.Seb Batchelor (Fluid Fin RT) 1:40:52
9.Hamish Batchelor (Fluid Fin RT) 1:41:18
10.Dave Henderson (GT Racing) 1:41:36
1.Lee Craigie (Lapierre UK) 1:42:24
2.Jessie Roberts (RWD Brakes Factory) 1:44:35
3.Maxine Filby (Velocite UK) 1:46:16
4.Mel Alexander (Cardiff JIF-just riding) 1:46:57
5.Ruth Owen-Evans (Moda-Bikemagic) 1:53:16
6.Joanne Clay (WXC World Racing) 1:53:18
7.Katy Winton (Kinesis Morvelo) 1:58:44
8.Natasha Barry (WXC World Racing) 2:01:24
9.Ruby Miller (Torq Performance) @ one lap
10.Emma Bradley @ one lap
11.Carla Haines (WXC World Racing) @ four laps
1.Luke Smith (Whyte Racing UK) 1.29.25
2.Simon Ernest (AW Cycles) 1.31.30
3.Roy Davies (Team Elite) 1.33.36
4.Marc Chamberlain (unattached) 1.33.37
5.Andy Taylor (unattached) 1.35.35
6.Ian Bendall (Cycle Coaching Wales) 1.37.29
7.Martin Graham (Ronde-Bicycle) 1.39.25
8.Matthew Loake (Southfork Racing) 1.39.44
9.Lee Hayward (unattached) 1.41.52
10.Anthony Morris (unattached) 1.42.25
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.