Luke Williamson and Becci Skelton conquered the elements to take the elite wins in a wild Antur Stiniog in the fifth and final round of the 2023 National Downhill Series, while Taylor Vernon and Harriet Harnden were the overall series champions.
The final round of the series saw a thrilling display of talent and determination as riders battled not only their competitors but also the challenging weather conditions. The event, hosted at the renowned Antur Stiniog downhill trail in Wales, saw competitors from various categories pushing their limits to secure the coveted podium spots.
The rugged Welsh track is brutal on both riders and bikes as it makes its way down a former slate quarry. There are plenty of rocks along the way, as well as some pretty big jumps, and this year, a formidable rock roll to gap jump for the riders to get their heads around.
While seeding and practice runs on Saturday ran smoothly, extreme weather conditions meant the commissaires and race organiser made the decision to cancel Sunday’s final, and use seeding results to confirm the podium position and series winners.
It's no surprise that the elite men's podium was dominated by riders with World Cup experience as 555 Gravity Racing's Luke Williamson took the win a second ahead of Taylor Vernon (Oxford Prime) on 2:48.127. Second place was enough for Vernon to secure the overall series victory, while Joe Smith (Vitus) finished in third on the day.
In the elite women's category, Becci Skelton stood out with her exceptional performance, securing the top position with a time of 3:14.260. Monika Mixova and Anna Craig followed closely behind, taking second and third place, respectively. Despite not being in attendance at this round, Trek Factory Racing’s Harriet Harnden took the series win after an incredible season.
The junior men's category proved to be a hotly contested battle as Leo Frater (YT Mob) showed his talent from the World Cups to take the win with a time of 2:50.334. Daniel Parfitt (West Highland Wheelers) came in second place just over a second back, with Archie Townsend (Gawton Gravity Hub) just 0.055 seconds behind Parfitt in third.
Some thrilling competition in the junior women’s category saw a tight battle between Elin Berry and Kerenza Scott, with Berry taking the win on 3:31.814 and the overall series win. Nina-Yves Cameron (West Highland Wheelers) took third position and came in second overall, after showcasing her talent and determination on the demanding Antur Stiniog course, while Scott finished third in the series standings.
Senior and expert
In the senior men's category, it was a fierce battle for the top spot as Josh Turner (Sorted Racegear) put down an impressive performance, securing the first position with a time of 2:52.846 and the overall series win. Charlie McIver and Finn Clark (Sorted Racegear) followed closely behind, taking the second and third spots, respectively, to match the final series standings too.
Downhill newcomer Alexia Desile wowed the crowds to take the top spot in the senior women’s category, clocking a time of 3:31.178. Vaska Prostova came home second in 3:47.069 to take the overall series win, while Jane Page finished third on the day and second overall ahead of Amy White-Bensted.
The expert men's category saw intense competition, with Zac Hudson (Sorted Racegear) emerging as the victor. Hudson clocked an impressive time of 2:52.846 to rise to the occasion in Antur Stiniog, having previously competed in 4X. Josh Brazier (The Trailhead) finished in second place, while Tom Coles came in third. James Elliot (SCOTT Racing) was crowned the overall series winner ahead of Hudson and Brandon Turner.
Juvenile and youth
In the youth boy’s category, George Madley (Madison Saracen Development) took first place with a rapid time of 2:49.198 to be the second fastest man of the day. Meanwhile, Hadley Coppard and William Pugh fiercely competed for the remaining spots on the podium, ultimately securing second and third place. Madley also secured the overall series win ahead of Sam Hatfield and Nathan Diwell-Wilson (DC Cycles).
In the juvenile and youth girl’s category, Heather Wilson (Muc-off Young Guns) took another victory to dominate the series and win every National Series race this season, as well as the National Championships. Alongside that, Wilson’s time of 3:13.647 was the fastest of any woman, and also saw her take the overall series crown. Olivia Taylor (Madison Saracen Development) took second place in 3:26.890, while Hollie Alderson (West Highland Wheelers) followed closely behind to finish in third and take second overall.
The juvenile boys class saw Osian Morris (Blumilk.com) take first place with an impressive time of 2:58.439. Nick Etherton of Gawton Gravity Hub was just behind, finishing in second place just 1.9 seconds adrift. Harrison Schofield (T.N.T.) secured third position, overcoming the challenging weather conditions.
Masters and veteran
In the grand veteran men's race, Mark Weightman took the top spot with a time of 3:06.800. Darren Wilson secured the second position, followed closely by Scott Turtle in third place. These seasoned riders in this category used their years of experience to help them deal with the changing wind and the demanding track.
The veteran men's class saw fierce competition, with Leon Rosser (Bike Doctor) securing the top position with a time of 3:00.053. Neil White, who was just 0.008 seconds behind, finished in second place to reflect 1-2 in the series standings, while James Burton finished third on the day.
In the master men's class, downhill coach Michael Vickers claimed victory with a time of 3:03.369 after a brilliant season, and also secured the overall series win. Andy Lund (One Giant Leap) managed to finish in second place, while Stuart Houlston secured the third position and second on the overall podium.
Final series standings:
- Taylor Vernon (Oxford Prime)
- Joe Breeden (Intense Factory Racing)
- Matt Walker (Madison Saracen Factory Team)
- Harriet Harnden (Trek Factory Racing)
- Bethany Mccully (Team Creation Cycles)
- Becci Skelton
- Dom Platt (Continental Atherton)
- Archie Townsend (Gawton Gravitv Hub)
- Sam Conroy
- Elin Berry
- Nina-Yves Cameron (West Highland Wheelers)
- Kerenza Scott
- Josh Turner
- Charlie Mciver
- Finn Clark (Sorted Racegear)
- Vaska Prostova
- Jane Page
- Amy White-Bensted
- James Elliott (SCOTT Racing)
- Zac Hudson (Sorted Racegear)
- Brandon Turner
- Harrison Schofield (T.N.T.)
- Nick Etherton (GT Vitus Team)
- Osian Morris (Blumilk.com)
- George Madley (Madison Saracen Development Team)
- Sam Hatfield
- Nathan Diwell-Wilson (DC Cycles)
Juvenile and youth women
- Heather Wilson (Muc-off Young Guns)
- Hollie Alderson (West Highland Wheelers)
- Katie Melville (Blumilk.com)
- Michael Vickers
- Stuart Houston
- Dan Taylor
- Leon Rosser
- Neil White
- Kris Lord