Champions will be crowned at Hadleigh Park International this weekend as the 2018 HSBC UK | National Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships take place.
The home of London 2012 mountain bike will host the best British riders – all battling to claim the prestigious white, red and blue national champions’ jerseys.
The red-hot favourite to take the women’s honours is Commonwealth champion Annie Last.
The KMC-KOI-SRSUNTOUR rider is defending her national title in Essex, looking to win the senior prize for the seventh time in her career – and a fifth year in a row.
Last withdrew from racing at Sunday’s UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Vallnord, saying she had been battling her body for a few weeks – it’s hoped she’ll be in fine form this weekend.
Her main challenge could come from Kerry MacPhee – the current leader of the HSBC UK | National Cross-Country Series.
MacPhee has not finished outside the top three in each of the four opening rounds of this year’s series and will be a major contender for honours.
Amy-Jo Hansford (Mud Sweat n Gears CC) and Heidi Gould (Orbea Factory Team UK) are also both in good form – and do not rule out a surprise winner in the form of multiple-time national cyclo-cross champion Nikki Brammeier.
The 2016 Olympian, racing for MUDIIITA has previously won the mountain bike national title on two occasions, most recently in 2012.
Grant Ferguson will hope to make it six-in-a-row this weekend.
The CST American Eagle rider has dominated the domestic mountain bike scene in recent years and has also secured the 2018 HSBC UK | National Cross-Country Series after winning the last three rounds.
Ferguson’s main challenge will likely come from one of Tom Bell, Phillip Pearce and Jason Boutell.
Boutell (KTM UK Factory MTB Team) is currently second in the HSBC UK | National Cross-Country Series standings after finishing in the top seven in each of the opening four rounds.
Bell sits fourth after a consistent effort across the series so far while Pearce (Hope Factory Racing) is a regular contender for the podium.
All eyes will be on Trek Factory Racing XC’s Evie Richards in the under-23 women’s race – with the Great Britain Cycling Team rider regularly claiming podium finishes at under-23 world cup level.
Richards – who hasn’t competed in the domestic cross-country series so far this season – will be keen to retain her national champion’s jersey, but faces a threat from a number of talented riders.
Isla Short (Habitat Mountain Bike Team) has had a breakthrough year, challenging in the top ten on a regular basis in the under-23 women’s category at the world cup – winning both rounds of the HSBC UK | National Cross-Country Series in which she has competed.
Sophie Wright (Renvale RT) was the winner in the previous round at Phoenix Bike Park – the former junior European champion has also been showing her class on the road this summer.
Two Great Britain Cycling Team riders will go head-to-head in 100% ME colours in Essex.
Frazer Clacherty is the defending champion, but knows he will not have things his own way with teammate Cameron Orr in hot pursuit.
Clacherty will head to Essex full of confidence after his victory in the previous round of the HSBC UK | National Cross-country Series – with Calum Fernie (Nottingham Clarion CC) and Christopher Rothwell (BW Cycling) also among those who will have their eyes on the prize.
Harriet Harnden looks like being the rider to beat this weekend – the T-Mo Racing rider has won both junior rounds of the HSBC UK | National Cross-Country Series in which she has competed this season.
The series leader, however, is Patsy Caines (Merida Factory Racing), hotly pursued by Anna McGorum (Peebles CC)
Charlie Aldridge (Stirling Bike Club) and Sean Flynn (Edinburgh RC) will do battle to be crowned the junior men’s champion – but both will have to get past the young rider to have already secured the HSBC UK | National Cross-Country Series.
Marcus Holmes (Lichfield City CC) has already achieved enough points to claim that prize – with a thrilling junior men’s race in store at Hadleigh Park International.
Saturday 21 July
12pm – Under 8/10/12s
2.30pm – Men’s and women’s sport (non-championship), men’s and women’s fun
Sunday 22 July
9am – Men’s and women’s juveniles, men’s and women’s youths
10.45am – Men’s master, veteran, grand veteran and super veteran
1pm – Women’s senior, under-23, junior, master, veteran, grand veteran and super veteran
3.15pm – Men’s senior, under-23 and junior
How to follow
- Watch live at Hadleigh Park this weekend. Entry is free (costs apply for car park)
- Race results on Twitter
- Report and images on the British Cycling website