Nikki Harris and Liam Killeen were among the winners on day two of the British Cycling National Cyclo-cross Championships, staged at a muddy Shrewsbury course which provided plenty of drama.
After overnight rain the mud, which had plagued competitors during day one, became worse, challenging the best riders.
From the outset it was Ben Sumner (Beeline-Gener8) who led the charge through the first technical section with Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) chasing.
Coming into the woods on the first lap, Field had taken the lead with Killeen hot on his heels, followed by Jack Clarkson (Hope Factory Racing). By the second lap Killeen and Field had joined together with Clarkson slightly back and the battle between the pair commenced.
The duo were side by side until 20 minutes to go when Killeen got a slight advantage which he increased lap on lap to seal the victory. Clarkson fell further behind in third but fended off David Fletcher (Pines Cycles) to secure the bronze medal.
“Field is a class cross rider and I was a bit apprehensive because of the amount of running,” said Killeen.
“But it all worked out as on the bike I felt strong. I’m really pleased as it has been a long time coming. The race kind of naturally selected and I just rode to the finish once a gap opened up.”
And Ian Field added: "I always wanted to win but I did my best and on the day it was good enough for second its bike racing. It's just another bike race and we were together until half distance and I slipped in the woods and once he had a gap it just went out from there."
Nikki Harris (Boels Dolmans CT) came from behind to snatch her second cyclo-cross crown in a dramatic finale to the elite women’s race.
Leading from the front, Helen Wyman (Kona/FSA Factory Racing) distanced her rival on the first lap on the technical running sections near the finish.
After drawing out a 22-second advantage Wyman then lost only three seconds of this during the next lap. However, with two laps remaining Harris, 29 and from Derby, clawed the gap back and coming into the wooded section had ridden onto the wheel of her rival.
Powering through the mud, the European bronze medallist took the lead for the first time coming into the finish area approaching the bell, until Wyman regained the lead as the pair went side by side.
As they reached the wooded section on the final lap it was Wyman who had pulled out a five second advantage after Harris’ chain fell off.
This was narrowed by the time the duo came into the finishing area, where disaster struck for Wyman and her chain jammed on a slippy uphill camber which caused the defending champion to fall into a hedge.
This mechanical problem allowed Harris to cruise to victory with her competitor left distraught by the issue.
“I’m so happy it was a close race but I got better every lap and it was one of those courses where I felt stronger throughout the race,” said Harris.
“I had a mechanical and my chain came off so I went flat out through the wooded area to get it back. Luckily she had a problem here which allowed me to win.”
Iain Paton (100%me) clinched the under-23 national title after coming back from second position with just over a lap remaining and holding on to his lead.
The 20-year-old from Sutherland in the north of Scotland kept his competition in sight throughout the race before making his move in the closing stages.
Early on it was Nick Barnes (Hargroves Cycles) who took the lead and was joined by Paton. Barnes pulled out a small advantage mid-race before he had a tangle in the wooded section, losing his advantage.
Paton then took up the mantle and pulled out a winning gap as Barnes fell away. After losing the lead Barnes was also passed by a resurgent Ben Wadey (Clee Cycles) in his first national cross race to clinch silver.
“I’ve never been out in front at a national cyclo-cross before and I made a couple of mistakes early on allowing Nick to get a gap and I was tagging along,” said Paton.
“Barnes got tangled at one point before getting back on and from there I just cracked on. I didn’t see Wadey for ages and he just came back at me for the end.
“It feels really good, I got my first one ever on the mountain bike and I never expected to win the cross so I’m made up. Next year I might have a proper crack at the cross and see how far I can go.”
Evie Richards (100%me) rode clear of her opponents to clinch the inaugural under-23 women’s title after a dominant display.
Richards led from the outset and was initially joined by Bethany Crumpton (Boot Out Breast Cancer) before the gapping her opponent. This left the 18-year-old from Malvern free to ride towards her maiden national title extending her lead every lap.
Behind, the battle for third was won by leading junior Sophie Wright (Renvale RT) who gapped Ffion James (100%me) on the last lap.
Richards said: “I had a mechanical on the second lap and had to ride one lap with broken gears. But apart from that I probably wanted it the most and gave my all.
“I’m so pleased as I’ve always wanted a national jersey and I missed out on the mountain bike one with a broken arm so I’m over the moon.”
Mark Donovan (Beacon Wheelers) distanced his rivals throughout the race to clinch the junior men’s national title.
The 16-year-old from Penrith in Cumbria led from the first lap and was initially joined by Harry Yates (Hargroves Cycles) and Ben Turner (Paul Milnes).
By the second lap Donovan had a small lead which he increased lap by lap to clinch victory.
Behind, Yates saw off a challenge by William Gascoyne (Sherwood Pines) before riding home to a clear second place, closing up on Donovan towards the end. On the last lap Gascoyne held off a late push from behind to clinch his bronze medal.
“It was a really tough race with all the mud and so much running,” said Donovan. “I’ve been doing a bit of running training which really helped. It was really technical in the wooded section and really tough.
“I got pushed all the way to the line but knew I had a good gap and I tried to keep calm and not make any mistakes. I knew I was one of the favourites and had a good chance so went all out from the start. To get the win was amazing and I can’t quite believe it yet.”
1 Liam Killeen Specialized Racing 1:05:06
2 Ian Field Hargroves Cycles Ridley RT 1:05:49
3 Jack Clarkson Hope Factory Racing 1:06:41
4 Nick Craig SCOTT Racing 1:07:02
5 Giles Drake Leisure Lakes Bikes.com 1:07:25
6 Paul Oldham Hope Factory Racing 1:07:50
7 Grant Ferguson Betch.NL Superior-Brentjens 1:08:23
8 Alex Paton Pedal Heaven RT 1:09:06
9 David Fletcher Pines Cycles - Felt - Enve 1:09:32
10 Daniel Booth Hope Factory Racing 1:09:37
1 Nikki Harris Boels Dolmans CT 49:49.2
2 Helen Wyman Kona / FSA Factory Team 50:44.4
3 Delia Beddis Vicious Velo 55:07.0
4 Diane Lee Cannondale Girls 57:41.0
5 Annabel Simpson Hope Factory Racing 59:47.2
6 Claire Beaumont Vicious Velo 02:50.2
7 Flo Dannah Individual Member 05:17.5
8 Ruby Miller Hargroves Cycles Ridley RT 05:47.7
9 Rebecca Richardson Hafren CC 51:01.0
10 Sarah Barber North Hampshire RC 51:03.6
1 Iain Paton 100%me 51:50
2 Ben Wadey Clee Cycles 52:04
3 Nicholas Barnes Hargroves Cycles - Ridley RT 53:16
4 Frazer Clacherty 100%me 53:41
5 George Thompson Sleaford Wheelers CC 53:54
6 Billy Harding Oldfield/Paul Milnes Cycles 54:15
7 Arthur Green Clee Cycles 54:52
8 Mark McGuire 100%me 55:13
9 Jake Poole Jake Poole Racing/Raleigh 55:31
10 Joe Griffiths Individual Member 55:45
1 Evie Richards 100%me U23 37:22.5
2 Bethany Crumpton Boot Out Breast Cancer CC U23 39:14.5
3 Sophie Wright Renvale RT J 39:31.2
4 Ffion James 100%me U23 39:53.6
5 Alice Barnes 100%me U23 40:44.5
6 Amira Mellor Oldfield/Paul Milnes Cycles U23 41:31.8
7 Sophie Thackray Oldfield/Paul Milnes Cycles J 42:05.8
8 Emily Wadsworth Beeline-Gener8 J 42:56.2
9 Rebecca Preece Red Rose Olympic CC U23 43:27.8
10 Natasha Reddy RP Racing Team J 47:09.1
1 Mark Donovan Beacon Wheelers 45:13
2 Harry Yates Hargroves Cycles Ridley RT 45:34
3 William Gascoyne Pines Cycles - Felt - Enve 46:09
4 Daniel Tulett Specialized Racing 46:33
5 Ben Turner Oldfield/Paul Milnes Cycles 46:50
6 Calum Fernie Nottingham Clarion CC 47:21
7 Harry Hardcastle VCUK PH-MAS Junior CT 47:45
8 Ewan Grivell-Mellor Mid Shropshire Wheelers 47:50
9 Dougal Toms Iceni Velo 48:32
10 Ross Harnden Malvern Cycle Sport 48:36