Ian Field and Beth Crumpton made the best starts possible to their respective 2017-18 HSBC UK | Cyclo-Cross National Trophy campaigns with victory at round one in Derby.
The much-anticipated season opener saw a huge number of riders looking to test their fitness and skills on a course that followed the contours of the land as well as throwing in some man-made obstacles including a 60m sand pit, hurdles, bridge and wooden steps.
Reigning national champion Field took the honours in the elite men’s race, while Storey Racing’s Crumpton did the same in the women’s contest.
Elsewhere there were U23 wins for Billy Harding and Anna Kay, while Ben Tulett and Harriet Harnden were victorious in the junior category.
Field and Harding show their class
The men’s race, comprising elite and U23 riders, splintered early with Harding making the first break, but by lap three it was Field who had taken the lead with Jeremy Durrin and Harding leading the chase.
Field established a sizable lead but it was Belgium’s Yorben van Tichelt that set about reeling him in, but the British champion attacked into the final time over the hurdles and the race was won as his rivals chain came off on the final bend.
Van Tichelt still came home for second, with Durrin third and Harding fourth, to win the U23 category.
“That was a good start to the year,” said Field. “I didn’t mean to be at the front so early on, I don’t know what happened to Yorben, he seemed to sit up and go back to the chasing group.
“It was so windy out there and really hard work. The course was drying out. I started with the right tyres for the conditions for the first few laps and then I seemed to have too much tread on as the course dried out and it got really hard work.
“I made sure I attacked going in the hurdles for the last time, I was there first and that gave me a little time going into the climb.
“Then when we came onto the road for the final sprint, Yorben’s chain came off, but I find it hard to believe he would have come round me.”
Crumpton the queen in Derby
The women’s race saw all three categories contested in the same race, with the three winners filling the top three places in the race overall.
Harden initially threw a spanner in the works for several senior riders, going off hard and storming through the sand to take command of the race.
But Crumpton took it all in her stride, pacing her ride perfectly to gradually close in on the youngster, pass her and establish a lead of her own.
The Storey racing rider was left to cruise to the finish line, while Harden battled it out with U23 riders Kay, Sophie Thackray and Amira Mellor for the remaining podium spots.
Harden held on for second overall and first in the junior category, with Kay coming third to take the U23 series lead.
“I had no idea how today would go. I tried to start my CX racing season in America but I contracted a serious virus when there, so I could only go through the paces, it was just surviving rather than racing,” said Crumpton.
“So today I started with an open mind. I know I have the skills and I love it when the conditions are a bit slippery it makes the race a bit more tactical.
“I knew I had some strength coming off the back of the road season and I was keen to do well in CX as I haven’t got many wins over the years I’ve been doing them, so to start the season off with a win under my belt is amazing.
“My goal is worlds this year, I’m hoping that if I show my strength early then I’ve got something to build on, so I'm chuffed to take this win.”
Tulett takes the win
The day’s other National Trophy race saw the men’s junior field tackle a still damp course that led to several crashes.
Eventual winner Tulett, in his first year in the junior ranks, did not have the best of starts, however by the end of the first lap he’d manoeuvred himself easily into third spot.
By the second lap Tulett was joined by Oli Draffan but it was a short spot of company as Tulett rode off on his own to take the win with a comfortable 20 second lead.
1. Billy Harding - PH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield
2. Stephen Lee - Derwentside CC
3. James Madgwick - Bloodwise QSW
1. Anna Kay - EDCO Continental
2. Amira Mellor - PH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield
3. Sophie Thackray - PH-MAS/Paul Milnes/Oldfield
1. Ben Tulett - Beeline Bicycles RT
2. Lewis Askey - Team Backstedt/Hitchillee
3. Cameron Mason - Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers
1. Harriet Harnden - T-Mo Racing
2. Amy Perryman - Hargroves-Ridley-Montezuma's
3. Fiona Turnbull - Speedflex Race Team