Liam Killeen and Evie Richards were the elite winners as the British Cycling MTB Cross-country Series headed back into Wales today for the penultimate round at Fforest Fields.
A slightly different layout to last year’s course proved a tough ask for many riders with long steep climbs and slippery technical sections which once again proved in favour with riders.
It was Liam Killeen (Malvern Cycle Sport) who took the win in the Elite Men’s race, a win that has secured the overall victory in the Series and the first one won by the Malvern rider. Specialised Racing’s Phil Pearce held onto second place from the start whilst a fine ride by Frazer Clacherty (100% ME) ensured third.
It was Pearce and Killeen who headed the race out from the start. Sweeping around the long start loop, the pair dragged the race out into a long line before heading back into the arena and the long drag up towards the tree line.
Elite Men's Gallery
Iain Paton (100%ME), Dave Fletcher (Pines Cycles-Felt-Enve) were in reach of the lead pair as the race settled and hit the twisty drop off at the small quarry. A line of riders including Clacherty, Ian Field (Hargroves-Ridley), Giles Drake (Leisure Lakes), Nicholas Corlett (Manx MTB Club) and Alex Welburn (Torq Performance) completed the chasing group.
Killeen made an early move on Pearce going on the second lap, and the Series leader soon had some 15 seconds on the chasing Pearce. Fletcher had got the march on Paton and was in pursuit of the lead pair, Clacherty was just off Fletcher’s wheel whilst Paton had dropped back to Drake.
By the third lap and mid race, Killeen was in his stride and was distancing himself from Pearce and the rest of the field. The 100%ME pair of Clacherty and Paton were heading up the chase on the long climb across the top of the course with Drake, Fletcher, Corlett and Welburn having to limit their losses.
Starting the penultimate lap it was Killeen who put another 20 seconds into the chasing Pearce, while Paton and Clacherty were locked together and distancing Fletcher. Field was working through the field and along with Drake had caught Fletcher.
The final lap saw Killeen put in his quickest lap to keep a safe lead, while Pearce was unable to respond and had to be content with second. Clacherty attacked and took third and a quick final lap from Field ensured fourth whilst Paton completed the podium in fifth.
“I think Grant [Ferguson, 2015 winner] would’ve really enjoyed this course with the severe climbing and technical descents, but you can only race who is here,” said elite men’s winner Liam Killeen. “Phil was super strong today, quick on the descents but climbing much better than at Plymouth, and the young lads are coming strong which is good to see.
“It’s great to be back racing in Builth because I first raced here as a youth. - Liam Killeen.
“You had to be aware of the off-camber bits throughout the race, but generally it was drying out and you got some traction. It’s the climbs you’ve got to pace yourself on because they were getting very sticky and I could feel my wheels getting heavier, and I was looking for grass just to get some traction.
“Overall it’s a good day out and it’s nice to see the young Malvern riders do well.”
Evie Richards took her third win in the Series with another dominant display on the tough Fforest Fields course. With the race distance reduced to three laps, the 100%ME rider stormed away on the opening lap to put in three quickest laps of the race. Isla Short (OMX Pro Team) took a spirited second while Beth Crumpton (Boot Out Breast Cancer CC) took third.
It was Richards who led the field away from the arena on the opening lap, already getting a small gap over Kerry MacPhee (Rock & Road Racing), Crumpton and Lucy Grant (Bicycle Works RT).
Elite Women's Gallery
The muddy ramp away from the arena saw Richards start to make a move and once she had put the power down no one could respond. Hitting the quarry for the first time, Richards had over a minute to Crumpton, Grant and Short. The third group consisting of Max Filby (Cannonade Girls), MacPhee, Sarah Lomas (Nutcracker Racing) and Jane Barr (Velocity 44) were racing for the minor placings.
Into the second lap and Richards had the race all but wrapped up and was increasing her lead but it was Short who had attacked and worked up to second, the race split into a time trial on the dirt. Crumpton was holding third just ahead of Grant, Lomas and Filby.
Richards eased off slightly on the third and final lap but her lead over Short and the rest of the field was too great to be challenged. Taking another lone victory, the 100%ME rider once again proved unbeatable.
But a fine second place by Short proved the OMX rider was returning to form, Crumpton held third and Grant took fourth. Fifth place saw Sarah Lomas take her first podium for over two years.
“I’m training as hard as I can and it’s always a bit tiring at this time of year heading into the Worlds as you’re always trying to get those last efforts out. But I’m pleased with how I performed today - Elite women's winner Evie Richards.
“I’m riding on a full suspension 29er now, and I’m loving it, it gives me confidence on the descents and gives me chance to play on my bike a bit more. When I’m training I love jumping around on it. I’m sure I will go back to a hard tail at some of the races in the Worlds, but I’m loving it at the moment!”
Nick Craig (Scott Racing) took his third win of the series on a course he described as “just like the old days”. Craig hit the front early in the race and never looked back, only to jump off in the final metres to replace a shipped chain.
Team-mate Stuart Bowers made it a Scott 1-2, the only rider to get close to the winner. Mark Chamberlain (Cotswold Cycles RT) completed the podium, the National Champion keeping his lead in the competition.
Other categories gallery
“It’s a brilliant place for racing, a little bit damp and slippy and both wheels going sideways, but it was good racing,” said Craig. “I didn’t go over the top, but I had to put my feet down a few times!
“Because it was so slow and heavy once it exploded it was always going to be a slog. It was getting stick, the bike was full so a bit of rain would’ve made that easier as we were picking a lot up.
“It was really good fun, Mark Chamberlain did a good ride to get back to third. It’s great to have Stu Bowers racing, it makes it really competitive. I think if you had one race you would see the top five vets in the top 20 elites.”
Tim Gould (Zepnat.com RT) had to call on his wealth of experience in the Over 50 Veterans race. Gould punctured after a crash early in the race which saw him go over the bars and land on his head. He limped round the first lap to the pits to change his rear wheel, watching his race disappear.
Richard Cross took to the head of the race, but the National Champion and series leader Gould chased back through the field to regain the lead on the second lap, a lead he didn’t relinquish to take his fourth win of the series and the overall series.
Ray Croswaith (Pedalon.co.uk) took a convincing win the Super Veterans race making it four wins from four and taking the overall series title. Denis Smith (Windmill Wheels) and Philip Stokes (Team Jewson-MI) made a close race of it, taking second and third respectively.
Maddie Smith (Bolsover & District) took her fourth win of the series in the Veteran Women’s race to claim the series overall. Lindsay Nell (Team Jewson-MI) and Sam Jones (Four4th) were second and third.
Sarah Barnwell (Club Bieicio Mynydd Dyffryn) took the win in the Grand Veteran Women’s race, Katherine Kilburn was second and Horwich CC’s Carolyn Spiers took the third step of the podium.
Ross Harnden (Malvern Cycle Sport) took his first win of the series on the drying course to keep the Junior series wide open. It was Calum Fernie (Nottingham Clarion CC) who lead the race through the opening lap of three with Harnden, team-mate Stan Pritchard and David Conroy (Scott/Eurocycles) all within two seconds of each other.
But on the second lap Fernie dropped back slightly, leaving the trio to decide the outcome with the three remaining leaders still within two seconds of each other. Harnden made his move on the final lap to claim a hard win from Conroy and Pritchard.
Sophie Wright (Renvale RT) took her second win of the series in the Junior Women’s race. The current European Champion jumped away early in the race and was soon carving through the elite field.
The number of laps were increased to three on the line by the commissaire which seemed to throw the field. Only Emily Wadsworth (Beeline-Gener8) could respond to the increase, finishing in second. Anna Kay (Nutcracker Racing) took third and moves into the series lead.
With series leader Jacob Phelps (Torq Performance) deciding not to start, the door was left open for a new leader in the Expert series, but with Paddy Atkinson (Team Bikesoup-Bianchi) unable to capitalise it was Oliver Lowthorpe (Big Maggys) who took the initiative, taking third after a hard slog on the drying course.
Ben Wadey (Clee Cycles) wheelied over the line to add another victory to his tally, the win putting him in sight of the series overall. James Curry (Cycling Ulster) made the trip worthwhile taking second and his best result in the competition.
In the Expert Women’s race Erika Moks (Mountain Goat Coaching) revelled in the conditions to take her first win of the series, Rosie Brown (Westbury Wheelers) rolled in second and Hannah Saville (CX Magazine) took third to still top the leader board after four rounds.
Ben Tulett (Beeline-Gener8) took a fine win in the Youth race. A strong start saw Tulett move away from the field on the tricky surface after heavy rain overnight, the majority of the field finding out how slippy the surface was in the opening few kilometres.
Lewis Askey (RST Racing) was the only rider who was within shouting distance of the leader throughout but was unable to catch him. Sean Flynn took third.
Harriet Harnden (T-Mo Racing) proved dominant in the Youth Girls race to take the win and the series victory, her fourth victory of the campaign.
Harnden revelled in the tough conditions, coming across the line over seven minutes to the good of second place Kim Baptista (Nutcracker Racing). Poppy Wildman (SRAM Development) took third to retain her second place in the series.
Jamie Johnson (Pro Vision CC) took his first win of the series in the Juvenile Men’s race, holding off Leicester CC’s Alec Gregory into second and Corran Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) into third.
Anna Flynn (Edinburgh CC) took the sprint from Maddie Wadsworth (Beeline bikes) to ensure her fourth win of the series and the overall series title after a race long battle between the pair. Charlotte-Louise McGreevy (WXC World Racing) took third.