Location: Sherwood Pines Forest Park Kings Clipstone, Nottinghamshire
Event: 23-24 March 2013
*** WEATHER UPDATE ***
Due to heavy snow and challenging conditions the support races scheduled for today have been cancelled.
British Cycling and the event organisation are working to clear the event arena in order that practice can go ahead later today.
At the moment it is still the intention for the first round of the MTB XC series to go ahead as planned tomorrow however this will be very dependant on the weather and favourable conditions prevailing.
Given the changeable conditions currently British cycling would advise that anyone intending to travel for the event tomorrow gives careful consideration before doing so and that safety should be a primary concern.
For updates about the event please check the British Cycling website and Twitter page @BritishCycling.
Reigning British Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross-Country Series champions Oliver Beckingsale and Lee Craigie will be present at Sherwood Pines on Sunday to begin the defences of their respective titles.
Beckingsale (Endura MTB Racing) missed last year’s opening round at the same venue but still managed to accumulate the most points in the elite men’s category over the five rounds with a hat-trick of victories at Hopton Woods, Kirroughtree and Langdon Hills.
Craigie (Cannondale Racing) also missed one instalment in the last series - at Hopton Woods - winning at Kirroughtree and Langdon Hills whilst finishing second to British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete Annie Last at Sherwood Pines and Dalby Forest.
London Olympian Last (Trek Factory Racing) is one of a handful of Great Britain riders on show in Nottinghamshire as she continues to build-up to an arduous summer of UCI Mountain-Bike Cross-Country World Cup rounds and the world championships in August.
Also in the elite women’s field is first year British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme rider Bethany Crumpton (Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's).
Elite men - Oli Beckingsale
Elite women - Lee Craigie
Junior men - Tom Evans (moves up to elite men for 2013)
Junior women - Alice Barnes
Crumpton settled for second behind Alice Barnes last year in the junior category, albeit having missed the final round but the 18-year-old went onto to a fifth place in the same category at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, a result which will have buoyed the youngster.
Fellow Great Britain athletes Grant Ferguson and Kenta Gallagher (both of Superior-Brentjens MTB Racing Team) along with Podium Programme rider David Fletcher (Orange Monkey Pro Team) add to an already feverishly competitive elite category, bolstered by last year’s junior men’s champion Tom Evans (Ben Wyvis Cycle Club), Steven James (Hargroves Cycles RT-Specialized-Trant-Next-Elliott's), Nick Craig (Team Scott UK) and Paul Oldham (Team Hope Factory Racing).
National champion Liam Killeen is a notable absentee, still not fit to race after suffering an open fracture and dislocation of the left ankle at the London Olympics.
The women’s elite field is equally robust, under 23 national champion Annie Simpson (Team Hope Factory Racing) – whose title win came on the back of appearing in none of the national series rounds – will feature as does Tracy Moseley (Malvern Cycle Sport) and last year’s runner-up Melanie Alexander (Contessa Scott Syncros).
With 2011 junior men’s champion Tom Evans facing the task of elite competition, Michael Thompson (Nutcracker Racing) will want to go one better than his second place in 2012 though Iain Paton (Ben Wyvis Cycle Club) will have other ideas in the season opener.
Alice Barnes (Scott Contessa Epic) enjoyed an enthralling battle with Bethany Crumpton in the junior women’s event in 2011, eventually coming out on top of the colossal battle, never finishing outside the top two in the process. With Crumpton moving onto the elite category Barnes will no doubt believe she can make it back-to-back championships.
There will also be a full programme of expert, sport, juvenile, youth and master categories, you can see last results here.
The series opener for the sixth successive year, Sherwood Pines is always one of the best supported events on the calendar. The course has again been tweaked from the 2012 edition, so expect some new technical challenges at this old favourite.