Grant Ferguson took a comfortable victory in round two of the British Cycling MTB Cross-Country Series at Newnham Park in Plymouth.
The Betch.nl rider finished almost a minute ahead of closest competitor Emilien Barben (Team Zimmerman) on a hot, dusty track.
Running out from the start of the race, Ferguson was sat in ninth place but as soon as a big descent came along, the Betch.nl rider attacked the whole field and took off on his own at the front.
Barben battled with Jonas De Backer (Baijot-Kross) for the rest of the race but neither ever managed to get close to Ferguson who looked back to his best after finishing sixth in round one at Sherwood Pines.
It was Barben who won the race for second, finishing 11 seconds ahead of third-placed De Backer.
Netherlands National Team rider Milan Vader finished fourth and Philip Pearce of Banjo Cycles was fifth in his first season after moving up from the experts.
“It was good to get the win after the first round at Sherwood,” said Ferguson. “The course here was fun to ride - in fact I got the excitement back for the race so I think it made me want to have a real go today.
“I didn’t realise I had such a gap today, I wasn’t getting any times on the course so I didn’t know where the other guys were. I didn’t plan to go flat out but I thought I’m here now so I have to keep going.
“I didn’t lead the race out but I took the lead on the first big climb. I was having fun on the descent leading into it and I just attacked and thought I’d see if anyone would come with me and just went from there. I’m happy with the win, got the points and had a lot of fun.”
Annie Last was in unbeatable form as she took victory in the women’s race, winning by almost three minutes.
The last time the National Series was held at this course in 2011, it was Annie Last who won and she managed to repeat the feat with ease.
Alice Barnes (Betch.nl) led out at the beginning of the race but she was soon overtaken by Last and Anne last and Anne Terpstra (Habitat MTB with the British and Dutch national champions going wheel to wheel in the opening stages.
By the end of the second lap, Last was away from Terpstra and began to build what already looked like an unassailable lead.
Barnes was back in third, battling with Anne Tauber (MTB Havelte). Beth Crumpton (North West MTB Race Team), who had started brightly, started to tire and slid back.
On the final lap, Last, who had no times for reference, was still giving it her all and went on to win at a canter. Terpstra was comfortable in third and Tauber finished third.
Kerry Mcphee (Rock and Road Cycles) looked set for fourth but tried to climb a step hill in the wrong gear and ended up walking up instead, allowing Barnes to pass her and push her down to fifth.
“I’m really happy with the win, I was out of racing for quite a while and worked to get my fitness back but I now feel like I’m racing again and getting into the groove – I kind of feel like I can go fast again,” said Last.
“Once I’d got the gap I didn’t want to ease up, I wasn’t getting time gaps on the course and on a course like this you just don’t know what’s going to happen so you can’t ease up really.
“It’s good to be able to race against quality riders and after the last round at Sherwood where I made a few mistakes, today was a good clean race for me which allowed me to ride my own race.”
Frazer Clacherty took the victory in the junior men’s race, the current national champion holding off a strong challenge throughout the race from both Will Gascoyne and Mark McGuire.
The three were within a handful of seconds of each other on each lap but Clacherty found enough to hold off the chasers and completed his four laps 11 and 15 seconds ahead respectively of the two chasers.
Evie Richards once again proved to be the strongest in the junior women’s race.
Riding for T-Mo Racing, the Malvern girl charged off the front and was soon working her way through the elite field which started two minutes earlier.
Richards completed her first lap faster than elite winner Annie Last before settling into fifth place overall in the elite race having finished her three laps in 50.40.
The ride for second was still ongoing, Abergavenny’s Ffion James holding onto second place ahead of an improving Charlotte Broughton completed the podium.
David Creber secured the win in the expert male race. Creber, who was second at Sherwood, completed his five laps in 1:17.59, two minutes to the good of Richard Dunnett. Joe Norledge took third, the privateer improving his lap times as the race progressed.
Helen Wainwright took her first national series win of the year, riding for Dave Mellor Cycles. Wainwright put in the work on the opening laps of a four-lap race to get the gap on the field. A returning Donna Morris took second and Angela Laycock completed the podium.
Malvern’s Ross Harnden went one better to take the win in the under 16s boys race. Harnden who was second in the previous round took the race to the Dan Tulett and gradually worked the National Champion over to take the lead on the second lap.
Tulett took the race away from the start and again looked a foregone conclusion but Harnden had the measure of his rival and was locked into Tulett from the off.
Cameron Orr and Calum Fernie were having their own battle for third and fourth, Orr got the better of Fernie on the final lap and looked to be closing on a tired Tulett but it was a finishing straight too long and Orr had to be content with third.
Sophie Wright once again got the better of her rivals in the under 16 girls race, Wright took the race from the gun, riding Megan James into second, National Champion Emily Wadsworth finished third to complete the podium.
Marc Chamberlin proved to be the strongest on the testing Newnham course. The over 40s National Champion took the race from the gun and secured a useful lead on the opening lap.
A chase of three - Paul Hopkins, Sam Humphrey and Anthony White - were locked together but could make no inroads to Chamberlain who had done the work on the first half of the race allowing him to ease off slightly over the last two laps of five to take a comfortable win. Hopkins eased away from Humphrey as the race progressed to take second.
Mark Chadbourne completed a dusty four laps to take the Grand veterans race from Tim Gould, Nigel Brown took the final spot on the podium just jumping the previous round’s winner Grant Johnson on the line.
Alison Holmes took the win in the veteran female race. Maddy Smith and Nicky Hughes were second and third respectively.
Ian Petherbridge got the better of Andrew Roberts to take the Super Veterans race. Andy Firman was third. Sarah Barnwell made it back to back wins in the Grand Veterans female race, once again beating Elizabeth Clayton into second. Janet Burthem completed the podium taking third.
1 Grant Ferguson (Betch.nl) 1.26.22
2 Emilien Barben (Team Zimmerman) at 56sec
3 Jonas de Backer (Baijot-Kross) at 1.07
4 Milan Vader (Netherlands National Team) at 1.28
5 Philip Pearce (Banjo Cycles) at 1.40
6. Martin Gujan (Novus OMX) at 2.19
7 Sebastian Batchelor (Fluid Fin) at 2.33
8 Iain Paton (Team Wiggins) at 2.54
9 Dave Fletcher (Pine Cycles) at 3.21
10 Ramon Sagues Portabella (Guess Bike – guak) at 4.22
1 Annie Last (Liv Cycling UK) 1:24.20
2 Anne Terpstra (Habitat MTB) at 2.59
3 Anne Tauber (MTB Havelte) at 4.44
4 Alice Barnes (Betch.nl) at 5.39
5 Kerry Macphee (Rock and Road Cycles) at 6.21
6 Beth Crumpton (North West MTB Race Team) 8:01
7 Mel Alexander (Contessa Scott Syncros) at 11.13
8 Merce Pacios Pujado (Guess Bike – guak) at 11.32
9 Lucy Allan (Mazing Tree IT) at 11.42
10 Jules Toon (TORQ Performance) at 12.50