Philip Pearce took his first elite win and the series lead in round four of the British Cycling National MTB 2015 series at Cathkin Braes.
Pearce, riding for Banjo Cycles, dominated the race from the opening lap to take a fine solo win, almost three minutes ahead of Jason Bouttell (VeloVelocity). Gareth McKee of Banbridge CC took third.
With series leader Grant Ferguson not racing, the opportunity was there for Dave Fletcher (Pines Cycles-Felt) to take the points and jump into the series lead.
Fletcher started well, riding towards the front of the race with Bouttell chasing down Pearce. But once again, it wasn't to be Fletcher's day as a broken shoe and a puncture saw the Nottingham rider abandon the race in the early laps.
Liam Kileen also ran into trouble, rolling a tyre, breaking his saddle and crashing on the opening lap.
Pearce was focused from the gun and as the race progressed, he rode the course impeccably, pulling out time on the chasing Bouttell on each lap.
While Pearce and Bouttell were away, McKee was working his way through the field, slowly picking off riders as the laps fell.
Alex Welbourne (Torq) and Giles Drake (Leisure Lakes) were locked together from the start. Both riders, although not in series overall contention, were looking for points, with neither rider allowing the other a bike length of space.
Nicholas Corlett (Manx MTB) looked to be a podium contender during the race but slipped back in the final few laps. Cycle-Tec's Steve Roach took valuable points from the day. Roach, always a classy rider, took a fine sixth place. The Coventry man picking up time as the race progressed, holding off Nick Craig (Pioneer Scott) who had Tom Craig on his wheel all through the junior race.
But the day belonged to Pearce who, in only his second year of racing, has a chance to take the Elite Series on a new course at Cannock.
“My first National Elite win, it’s amazing, I’m so chuffed!” said Pearce. “I know some of the big guns weren’t here but you’ve still got to win so I’m honestly so happy.
“I loved the course here, it’s like a big BMX track which I really enjoyed. Once I got going, you just seem to roll round, everything fell into place, a great course, you bounce down the rock gardens between the rocks, just like a pinball machine.
“This is my second year racing, I moved up to Elite for this season and I never imagined winning, I never thought I’d be riding National level when I started riding, every race I do just drives me along wanting to improve.”
Annie Last (Liv Cycling UK) stormed to victory in the Women’s Elite race, over six minutes to the good of Peebles' Lucy Grant. Beth Crumpton (North West MTB) took third.
First year elite Isla Short (Novus OMX) headed the race out towards propeller point but with the series contenders on her wheel, the lead was to be fairly short lived and on the opening lap, it would be Last who powered away from the field.
Grant followed but had to be content to look after her second place during the six laps, as barring any incident, the win was almost a foregone conclusion for Last. Crumpton looked settled in third spot but had to be aware of a chasing Kerry MacPhee (Rock and Road). Lucy Allen (Mazing Tree IT) was riding well within the top ten but two punctures later in the race would end her day.
By the midpoint of the race, Last was over two minutes up on Grant, the National Champion looked unstoppable and never eased off the pace making the course look easy and with two laps remaining, the gap was a few seconds off four minutes.
Further back down the course, Crumpton began to eat into Grant's second place with Grant looking a little tired. This allowed the chaser to edge a few seconds closer.
The top ten were time trialling the final couple of laps but Crumpton upped her pace and as the final lap began, the gap to Grant had started to fall. Last took a solo victory but eyes were on the final short rise to the finishing straight to see who had won the second place battle and it was Grant who had hung on to take second, Crumpton having to be content with third.
“I always say it just so nice to get out and race, I haven’t done that much racing in the earlier part of the season so it’s good to be actually racing my bike again,” said Annie Last. “It takes a while to get back into a racing frame of mind but it has all started to fall back into place and it feels good.
“I was going ok earlier in the year and things were looking good then I had a little bit of illness at the last round in Wales but I feel pretty good now going into the second half of the season. I’m looking forward to it.”
Dan Tullet took a fine win from Ross Harnden in the youth race after another race long battle between the two series contenders.
The two were locked together from the gun, the lead exchanging throughout the four laps but coming into the final section Harnden looked to make his move on Tullet and got the gap.
Tullet chased the Malvern rider down and coming into the long finishing straight was back into contention, both sprinting for the line but it was British champion Tullet who had the speed to carry him across the line one second ahead of Harnden, the victory all the sweeter after he had punctured on the final section. Cameron Orr completed the podium.
Sophie Wright continued her exceptional year with another victory over current British champion Emily Wadsworth, Wright finished over two minutes to the good of Wadsworth and some four minutes to third place Kim Baptista who had taken the lead early in the race but was no match for the eventual winner.
Ben Tulett, once again took the win in the Juvenile race, Tullet proved the strongest on the hard circuit, riding Thomas Timberlake into second spot and Charlie Aldridge into third. Harriet Harnden took the win the the Juvenile girls race beating Poppy Wildman into second. Anna Flynn took third.
The junior race went down, once again, to the wire, Frazer Clacherty taking the sprint from Mark McGuire after the two had been within one second of each other through the five laps. Tom Craig took third, 1.47 back.
Evie Richards decimated the junior girls race finishing over four minutes ahead of second place Ffion James. Richards rode away early doors and was soon riding through the elite field, sitting for her race in the first five of the elites, although the junior ride two laps shy of the elites, Richards on lap times would have finished second to Annie Last. Erika Allen took third.
David Creber took the field apart with a fine performance in the expert race putting almost five minutes into second place Rhys Hidrio, Creber took an early lead in the opening sprint up towards the propeller and never faultered throughout. James Edmond completed the podium. Helen Wainwright took the top step in the expert female race putting just over two minutes into second place Katherine Simpson and over three minutes into third place Sarah Murray.
Marc Chamberlain took the win in the vets race, the British champion rode away from second place Paul Hopkins on the second lap and didn’t look back, Steve Callard took third holding of Dan Howe into fourth by a handful of seconds.
Caroline Goward took the veteran women race from Alison Holmes and Maddi Smith. John Shirley ensured the victory in the super vets race, putting in over four minutes to Andrew Roberts and almost five minutes into Vic Barnett. Sarah Barnwell took a resounding win the the Grand Vet female from Carolyn Spears and Liz Clayton.