Ben Wadey (Clee Cycles) sprinted to his maiden victory in the HSBC National Cross Country Series in the fifth and final round at Thickthorn while Kerry Macphee dominated the Elite Women’s category.
Macphee’s second victory of the series led to take the overall title while an absent Grant Ferguson (Hope Factory Racing) had already sealed the men’s crown prior to the final round.
After the fourth round was cancelled due to flooding the final race of the series saw riders treated to a hot race on hard ground which led to fast racing.
However, the grassy grounds of Thickthorn, near Norwich caught the wind leading to tough racing conditions.
Wadey, whose highest finish this season in the National Series has been eighth took advantage of several absentees.
After a fast but tentative start to proceedings the Shropshire-based rider was the first to test his legs launching an attack on the second time through the wooded technical section.
Despite the leading group reeling back Wadey the pace saw the group swell to six riders drive on by local rider Jason Bouttell.
Wadey continued to push as the race reached the fourth lap and the strength of himself and Bouttell eventually tolled as they gapped the remains of the leading group by 15 seconds.
However, David Duggan (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) used his power to jump across the gap on the lower part of the course to make a leading group of three with a trio of chasers.
Seb Herrod (ROTOR Race Team) and Gareth McKee continued to chase the leaders but were left to fight for the minor placings.
Leading into the finish Wadey led up the final grass climb and used his power to lead out the downhill sprint for victory.
“It feels awesome as I was hoping to get a top five today so to get the win is awesome,” said Wadey.
“I felt really good through the technical section so wanted to see how much of a gap I could put through there.
“All the groups were so close that as soon as you go they are back onto you.”
Speaking about the final lap Wadey added: “I knew I had to get into the technical section first as it was the bit I felt strong on.
“Then it was just a case of holding on for the sprint. I cramped up really badly just as I came through the line but I’m really happy.
“I’m normally just behind the top group so to get a first is awesome.”
Wadey’s victory also saw him take third overall in the series with Grant Ferguson (Hope Factory Racing) taking victory with three second places and Enro McCrea rounding off the podium.
Kerry Macphee took an emphatic victory in the Elite Women’s event riding away on the opening lap and never looking back.
McPhee, who won the second round and podiumed in the last round, distanced her rivals in the wooded section on the opening lap and built up a lead of over a minute through the race.
Behind an intriguing battle developed for the overall series spots with series hopeful Amy-Jo Hansford (Torq Performance) suffering mechanical problems at the start and having to battle her way back through the field.
Behind Macphee it was Eilish Gilbert (Torq Performance) who was a lone chaser as she tried to fend off competition behind.
Chasing her for the second podium spot was Jane Barr (Velcity 44 RT) and Sharn Hooper (Southfork Racing.co.uk) with the rivals able to see each other but their small gaps maintained.
Gilbert remained the strongest of the chasers for the majority of the race but was chased by Barr who had the gap down to 15 seconds by the bell.
However, as Barr faded a strong finish by Hansford, who took 30 seconds out of her rival in the last half-a-lap, then clinched the final podium spot in a sprint finish.
“I thought it would be more tactical than it was and was surprised to get a gap on the first lap and rode away,” said MacPhee.
“It was really hard as it’s really like time-trial as it was windy on the straights so you just had to suck it up.
“I thought it was going to be tactical so I sat in for the first time ever to suss things out. I think maybe Eilish (Gilbert) suffered a little so I just digged in and got away.”
Macphee clinched the overall series with a stand-out ride by Hansford earning her second ahead of team-mate Gilbert.
Speaking about her second race series win resulting in the overall title, Macphee added: “I’m so chuffed as winning a series is a position of privilege.”
Louis Sutton (Welwyn Wheelers CC) took advantage of a moment of hesitation to rider clear to a memorable victory in the Junior Men’s race.
A crash in the first passage of the wooded section saw the chances of some riders scuppered but didn’t effect Sutton who was already on a ride to victory.
Behind surges of pace in the chasing group saw the group swell to six riders by half-way point but Sutton’s advantage was stable at over 30 seconds.
As he got the bell Sutton showed no sign of weakness and his lead had grew to a minute ahead of six chasers.
The youngster held on to take a final solo victory while behind battle commenced with a group of six sprinting for the remaining podium places.
Sam Bishop (Charlotteville CC) put a massive attack in on the final climb but was beaten to second place by fast finishing Sam Smith (Magspeed Racing), using his speed out of the final corner to narrowly pip Bishop on the line.
“I just went from the start and kept on going,” said Sutton.
“I felt good so just carried it on and didn’t look back really. It’s my first top-10 so it feels good and I’m happy for next year now when I will be a second-year junior and hopefully I can get some more.”
Absent Charlie Aldridge (Stirling Bike Club) had already sealed the series victory with Jamie Johnston (Leslie Bikeshop Bikers Boutique) second, however Sam Bishop’s third place finish seal him seal an overall podium spot.
Maddie Wadsworth (Cycle Team On Form) put on an emphatic display in the Junior Women’s event which saw her ride away from her rivals to win by over six minutes.
After a close group start on the wide grass section Wadsworth soon opened up a large gap as disaster struck for rival Amy Perryman (Hargroves-Montezuma’s).
Perryman’s chain snapped from the start leaving her to run the opening section back to the pits and she lost several minutes before continuing.
Behind leader Wadsworth was initially chased by team-mate Katie Scott before she became locked in a battle with Poppy Wildman (SF Racing).
Wildman had enough strength as the race reached its conclusion to distance her rival to clinch second with Scott taking third.
Perryman chased through the field to take a fine fourth place.
“It was so tough in the heat and it was such a hard course as well so really tough racing,” said Wadsworth.
“I thought I may as well go for it from the gun and see what I could do. I went into the single track first which was my favourite part so I went as hard as I could through there and had a gap.
“I thought I might as well push on from there. I raced a lot of the series last year and have missed it.”
Speaking about the conditions, Wadsworth added: “I started the race and thought it had cooled down a bit but it hadn’t.
“My parents were in the pits chucking bottles over my head. It was really hot.”
1 Ben Wadey (Clee Cycles)
2 Jason Bouttel
3 David Duggan (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli)
4 Gareth McKee
5 Seb Herrod (ROTOR Race Team)
1 Grant Ferguson (Hope Factory Racing)
2 Enro McCrea
3 Ben Wadey (Clee Cycles)
1 Kerry Macphee
2 Eilish Gilbert (TORQ Performance)
3 Amy-Jo Hansford (Torq Performance)
4 Jane Barr (Velcity 44 RT)
5 Sharn Hooper (Southfork Racing.co.uk)
Overall series result
1 Kerry Macphee
2 Amy-Jo Hansford (Torq Performance)
3 Eilish Gilbert (TORQ Performance)
1 Louis Sutton (Welwyn Wheelers CC)
2 Sam Smith (Magspeed Racing)
3 Sam Bishop (Charlotteville CC)
4 Thomas Timberlake (Dyson Cycles)
5 Reuben Orr (SF Racing)
1 Charlie Aldridge (Stirling Bike Club)
2 Jamie Johnston (Leslie Bikeshop Bikers Boutique)
3 Sam Bishop (Charlotteville CC)
1 Maddie Wadsworth (Cycle Team On Form)
2 Poppy Wildman (SF Racing)
3 Katie Scott (Cycle Team On Form)
4 Amy Perryman (Hargroves-Montezuma’s)
5 Niamh McKiverigan (Cycling Ulster)
1 Anna Burguain???
2 Josie Nelson (RST)
3 Amy Perryman (Hargroves-Montezuma’s)