The British Cycling National Trophy Cyclo-cross Series begins in Shrewsbury on Sunday 12 October, the first of six rounds of Britain’s premier cyclo-cross league, which sees some big changes for the 2014-15 season.
With the mouth-watering prospect of a UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup double header in Milton Keynes, an expanded youth racing schedule and a separate veteran women’s classification plus chip timing for all races, this year’s series promises to be bigger and better than ever.
How the series works
At each round there are separate races for the various categories and riders are awarded points based on their finishing position. New for the 2014-15 season, the best five of each rider’s six results will count toward their overall score, with the top scorer in each category crowned the series champion. Find out more about how the National Trophy series works.
The scene of last season’s finale becomes the opener for 2014-15 and Shrewsbury is sure to offer a stiff test.
Challenging conditions and lots of mud greeted riders and fans alike last season, who were treated to a gripping battle in the elite women’s event, when Hannah Payton secured the series in its final throes.
The men’s event was a victory lap for Paul Oldham who had already won the title in Bradford. But Oldham is a racer and rode to second behind Belgian visitor Yorban van Tichelt to put a confident full stop on another strong season for the Hope Factory Racing rider.
But the complexion of the Shrewsbury podium is likely to be different to 2013. Oldham, while scheduled to start in Shrewsbury, is recovering from a broken collarbone while Ian Field is set to mix continental with domestic duties, joining his Hargroves Cycles – Ridley RT teammate Steve James who graduates from the under-23 ranks.
And following his return to mountain bike competition in the summer, Liam Killeen also graces the start list, promising a thrilling race to kick off the series.
Hannah Payton has taken her formidable talent to the ‘cross courses of Belgium leaving the door open for a raft of series challengers; expect a pitch battle between 2013-14 runner up Merce Pacios Pujado, Ffion James and Annabel Simpson, to name but three.
Southampton returns for round two, as it did in 2013-14 and defending men’s champion Paul Oldham will have fond memories of the Hampshire venue, the Hope Factory Racing rider taking his second win of last season after drawing first blood in Abergavenny.
After a highly successful first year on the National Trophy circuit, picturesque Durham will once again host top cyclo-cross action on 16 November as the University Cricket Club looks after round three.
Paul Oldham took win three-of-three in the historic university town in 2013 ahead of Olympian Oli Beckingsale.
Durham also saw the first win of the season for eventual series champion Hannah Payton but with the The Kinesis Morvelo Project rider racing in Belgium this season, Durham, and the series, is guaranteed a new winner.
Round four in Milton Keynes will undoubtedly be the one that everyone is waiting for, the Buckinghamshire venue hosting a double-header weekend of ‘cross action. Milton Keynes’ Campbell Park will serve up the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup on the Saturday before round four of the National Trophy on Sunday.
A year ago, Ian Field returned to domestic action at Milton Keynes' famous Bowl and denied Paul Oldham a fourth consecutive win.
Milton Keynes also saw Merce Pacios Pujado take her only win of the 2013-14 campaign but this season the consistent Spaniard, who finished second overall last year, is series favourite in the Payton’s absence.
With the world cup taking place the preceding day this year, the start list for the National Trophy round is likely to be awash with global talent so expect a very different podium than in previous rounds.
Bradford’s Peel Park will once again play host to the penultimate round of the 2014-15 series, as it did in 2013-14. And with series glory just one round away, action in the Yorkshire venue is sure to be fierce on a course that elite men’s champion Paul Oldham described as the hardest venue on the circuit.
Ian Field took his second consecutive win last year in Bradford, once again denying Oldham maximum points, but Oldham battled all the way to wrap up the 2013 series crown with a round to spare.
Hannah Payton was back on top of the podium in Bradford last year, ahead of Pacios Pujado and talented youngster Abby-Mae Parkinson, one of a gaggle of riders likely to offer a consistent podium challenge in 2014-15.
Last year’s British Cycling National Cyclo-cross Championships venue will stage the 2014-15 National Trophy finale.
Derby hasn’t hosted a round of the National Trophy since the 2012-13 season but the Moorways Centre has borne witness to some classic battles in the past. And with the title potentially hanging in the balance, the final round will be hotly contested, the heat further notched up just a week ahead of the national championships in Abergavenny.
Report, results and reaction will appear at www.britishcycling.org.uk/nationaltrophy