Location: Gaddens Close Farm, Ringwood
Event: 19 May 2013
Photo: Mike Adams
The MTB XC Southern Championships will be held on 19th May at Round 2 of the SouthernXC series at Crow Hill in the New Forest. Crow hosted the National XC Championships in 2008 and has been a regular venue at SouthernXC races for many years, so the trails are well ridden and certainly tough enough to prove the winners worthy champions.
Last year's Elite Women's champion was Sally Bigham and she has been racing more cross country this year, taking a win at Round 1 and at last week's NPS race in Cornwall.
Ian Field took a break from cyclo-cross to win last year's Elite championship but isn't racing this year. With Ben Thomas recovering from South African adventures, maybe Ade Lansley can reclaim his title.
In the Expert categories Fay Cripps and Jason Boutell were last year's champions but we haven't seen much of Fay this year and Jason has moved up to Elite this year so it's wide open. Perhaps Jon Cruikshank, Round 1 winner, can hold off Richard Phillips-Schofield and James Porter again. Agata Tamulewicz, Round 1 winner, will certainly have more competition this time.
In the Grand Vets, Rob Jackson claimed last year's title but new boys James D'Arcy and Steve Jones will certainly be battling for the crown again after strong showings at Round 1. Carol Tilley as the only female Grand Vet out there at the SouthernXC races may have an easy race.
Sam Stean in Juniors should have an easy defence of his title but Sophia Joy has new competition this year from Gretel Warner.
Al Fairbairn took the Masters title last year and even though most of his competition have moved on, an improving Rob Purcell should challenge for the title this year.
In the Sport category, runaway winner of Round 1, James Braid should do well now that last year's winner Phillip Webb has moved up to Expert.
Battle will resume in the most hotly contested category, Vets, as Paul Hopkins defends his title from Lewis King, who will be looking for revenge for his Round 1 defeat. Maybe Marc Chamberlain, moving up from Masters, can challenge this year.
In the Youth category, last year's champions Tom Franklin and Abigail Van Twisk look set to repeat their wins, although Oli Lowthorpe put in an impressive win at Round 1.
To be eligible for the Southern Championships you need to hold a British Cycling licence from Southern, Central or South East regions. Other riders can race and get series and British Cycling points but can't be champions. Southern Champions will receive special trophy cups. All the usual series categories are eligible for the Championships except Fun including Under 9s, 11s and 13s.
Round 1 of the series saw a near record entry with over 150 new riders entering, and an Elite field worthy of a Nationals race. We are seeing a healthy increase in younger riders and teams especially from Palmer Park Velo, Team Darenth and Guernsey Velo Club.
Pre-entry closes on Wednesday 15 May and entry on the day is available in all categories. If you are contesting the Championships please pre-enter as it makes check eligibility easier. Pre-entered riders get personalised number boards and race briefing emails. See www.southernxc.net or www.xcracer.com to enter online.