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UK National Trophy #5 - C2
Abergavenny, Great Britain, December 18, 2005
Crawforth crowned King of 'Cross
Field goes from young pretender to title contender
By Luke Webber
A thrilling sprint finish concluded 60 minutes of the best cyclo-cross racing Britain has seen this year, as Ian Field took the final round of the National Trophy at Abergavenny. Second place was good enough for Crawforth to regain the series title, earning three emphatic victories on the way.
On a cold day in the Welsh hills bike handling skills proved all-important for those wanting to win. The lap was fairly flat and fast with a long tarmac section and several grassy flats allowing plenty of chaingangs to form. The undoubted sting came in the form of several tight and tortuous hairpins - many of which were off cambre and slick with mud.
It was a track for the rider who possessed speed, agility, bike skills, tactical awareness and nerve - something Field had in spades.
How it unfolded
A class field took to the line for the final National Trophy, with many hoping to fine tune their form for the upcoming National Championships. Among the riders were the 2005 protagonists; Crawforth, Field, Wilkinson, Collins, Oldham alongside which was current national champion Nick Craig, mountain bike star Liam Killeen, Belgian Ronny Poelvoorde, Dane Joachim Parbo and American Jeremy Powers.
Riders set off at a lightning pace along the tarmac with Powers (Jelly Belly) taking to the front, followed by a string of riders sprawled across the Leisure Centre.
Before riders had even completed the first circuit however it was all change at the front. Steven Roach moved forward, but could not gain any kind of advantage thanks to Crawforth quietly (but convincingly) controlling proceedings behind.
Further back down the string Killeen was making steady progress through the
pack after starting at the back. Poelvoorde was also looking strong in the large
field - his domestic racing experience
With the race a quarter of the way through a lead group had developed consisting of Ian Wilkinson, Ian Field, Jody Crawforth, Paul Oldham, Dave Collins, Steven Roach, Simon Richardson and Ronny Poolvoorde. Around ten seconds back were Matt Ellis, Nick Craig and Joachim Parbo.
One lap further on and the second selection was already being made. Field, Wilkinson and Crawforth had moved into a commanding lead ahead of Collins, Oldham, Poolvoorde, Richardson and Nick Craig. However, Craig was gaining in confidence with every pedal stroke on a course he enjoys, and after two attempts had bridged up to the lead trio. Suddenly there was a race on and it was the youngest rider, 21 year-old Field, who asserted himself on the penultimate lap. Immediately Crawforth responded, dragging Craig and Wilkinson back into the fray. With just one more lap to go it was still all to play for.
Small advantages were being gained but quickly snuffed out, until Crawforth lit the touchpaper with half a lap remaining. Craig and Wilkinson were blown out the back, but Field knew no fear and was back on terms by the barriers. Crawforth struck out again in the off-cambre turns but never really looked as explosive as Field, who was always happy to sit in for the sprint.
Both riders emerged from the bare trees, Crawforth slowing up before sneaking a look. Field needed little invitation, clicked through the gears, stamped on the pedals and accelerated like a fighter jet to cross the line a bike clear. Craig finished third after a persistent ride ahead of Wilkinson. On the podium Field collected honours for the Under 23 win (both series and on the day), the Senior win and second overall in the points. Crawforth rightly took the top step after a campaign which saw three wins and two second places, with David Collins third.
After a day of success and with an both arms full of trophies race winner Ian Field was obviously a very happy man. "Yeah, it was a nice day out," he said. "I've been feeling great all day and with Wilky there it made it a lot easier. He could put in a few digs and I was just there, watching, siting on Jody all day. I knew I was the stronger sprinter and it was just a case of holding Jody's wheel for the last lap. It was always down Jody to make the move."
An out of breath Jody was pleased with his performance considering the circumstances. "I wasn't exactly feeling myself today, I was a bit ill last week. Wilko and Field were in a different class today. I tried a couple of times, they tried to break free, but I was still confident I could beat them," he said.
"There was a mistake on the banking before the pits so I made off and thought I could get (and hold) a good gap, but my legs just died. Ian did me in the sprint and I was just dead…I was like 'c'mon' but there was nothing left in me! Yesterday and this morning I thought I would not do very well, if you would have told me I was coming second before the race I would definitely have took it."
In his first race of the season Liam Killeen finished 14th; however, after starting at the back of the grid it was more an exercise in picking off as many riders as possible, rather than racing for the win. "I didn't have the advantage of being on the front couple of rows, but it was a good workout considering my training has not been at all geared toward racing and today was a benchmark," said Killeen. "It was good to get out there and hopefully there will be some more improvement in the next couple of weeks."
When asked about how his preparations for the Commonwealth Games were coming on Liam said he has only just started training real hard (there is hope for us all!) "Obviously the Games are pretty early next year, so training is being bought forward a touch. The plan is to have good form and hold it for a month to take in the World Cup races afterward."
With Helen Wyman on European duty, Sue Thomas made all other competitors look
like they were standing still in the women's race. From the gun there was not
one mistake as the rider returning to
Victoria Wilkinson was 41 seconds adrift of the leading lady, with Louise Robinson claiming third senior and first veteran. Amy Thompson rode another memorable race - despite being a junior she finished in the top half of the overall standings. Thomas reigned supreme in the series, with Gabriella Day second and Clare Gross third.
Post race Thomas spoke about an incredible 'cross season. "I was not feeling so good this morning and my starts have been really slow this season, so my plan was to try and get off the start fast - something Barrie has been helping me with and it's really paid off," she said. "Up until last week I had just been riding my bike, just enjoying trying different things. Just recently I've been doing some more intense work to help build up to the Nationals and Worlds. After that I'm hosting a couple of training camps in February and March, before looking at the three mountain bike World Cup races in Europe."
Tom Last secured the series with an easy win in a race that could have been so different. Yards from line Stephen Adams hit the ground after one of his gears slipped, sending him over the bars. What came next was a masterclass in true grit and determination, summing up the youngsters 'never say die' attitude - something which gained him much respect from fellow racers and aficionados alike.
Chasing back from last place and some 20 seconds down, Adams did what came naturally; gave chase instead of giving up. Within one lap he was back in contention and come the closing stages up into third and still hunting down second placed Jonathan McEvoy.
The race ended with Adams occupying the final podium slot, McEvoy second and Last first by over a minute. Last wrapped the series up, however it could have been different if it were not for Adams' fall. David Fletcher rounded out the podium.
As the first race got underway there was still a covering of frost on the ground, with the temperature reading a paltry zero degrees. Ben Plain was absent after breaking his wrist, leaving third place in the series there for the taking.
With proceedings underway Ben Roach set about dominating the two riders who have had no equals this season; Alex Paton and Scott Thwaites. After troubles with his shoe unfastening in the early stages, Paton made an inspired attack to bring back Roach and for a time it did look like Roach had set his stall out too soon. However, it was clear to see that Roach's cornering skills were far superior to any other competitor. Where others hit the brakes, he found a line through the mud making victory over Paton and Thwaites look easy.
Paton took series honours, ahead of Thwaites - and thanks to his first win of the series, Roach claimed third. Luke Gray was crowned under 14 champion after a string of four wins - the aim today to finish and consolidate his position at the top of the leader board - something he achieved with second place sealing the series. Second was Daniel McLay, no doubt helped by winning the days race.
With 'junior' winning minutes beforehand, 'senior' had his work cut out to
preserve the family value of winning on home territory. Phil Roach struck out
before anyone had a chance to think about
Once the pecking order for second place was established, a group containing Andrew Shaw, Andy Key and Mick Bell formed. Had the three worked together it was conceivable that the gap would come down, but team tactics played their part, Bell fell by the wayside and Shaw and Key rolled over the line content with second and third respectively. Following his win, Roach was promoted to series leader and National Trophy champion, ahead of Mick Bell. Andy Barnard's consistency paid off with a third position.
This race was little more than a lap of honour for Roy Hunt, who had already sewn up the series before the starting pistol had fired. However, Hunt still had his unbeaten record to defend, something he did admirably, coming home nearly a minute clear of local favourite Graham Edwards. With that result Edwards leapfrogged two positions to second overall, with Joseph Rowe third.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Luke Webber
Elite/Under 23 1 Ian Field (GBr) S.I.S-Trek 2 Jody Crawforth (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 3 Nick Craig (GBr) Scott UK 4 Ian Wilkinson (GBr) S.I.S.- Trek 5 Paul Oldham (GBr) Hope Factory Racing 6 David Collins (GBr) Scott UK 7 Ronny Poelvoorde (Bel) Team Flanders 8 Simon Richardson (GBr) Subaru/Gary Fisher 9 Steven Roach (GBr) S.I.S-Trek 10 Lewis Craven (GBr) Wheelbase/Ron Hill 11 Matt Ellis (GBr) Ace RT/Farmers/Impsport/Dolan 12 Daniel Duguid (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 13 Joachim Parbo (Den) Cycling Aarhus 14 Liam Killeen (GBr) Specialized Factory Team 15 Rob Jebb (GBr) Wheelbase/Ron Hill 16 Jamie Newall (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 17 Daniel Alexander (GBr) Ace RT/Farmers/Impsport/Dolan 18 Alex Atkins (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 19 Darren Atkins (GBr) Ridecov.co.uk 20 Ian Bibby (GBr) S.I.S-Trek 21 Jeremy Powers (USA) Jelly Belly - Pool Gel 22 Mark Thwaites (GBr) Kinesis UK 23 William Bjergfelt (GBr) Team Saracen 24 Lee Williams (GBr) CC Abergavenny/Owen/Doleq 25 Steve Knight (GBr) MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours 26 Ian Legg (GBr) Pacific Racing 27 Noel Clough (GBr) BikeTraks RT/Ultima Coach Travel 28 Stuart Reid (GBr) Wheelbase/Ron Hill 29 Shaun Aldous (GBr) Interbike RT/Schils/Boyer Planning 30 Richard Lister (GBr) Fat Birds Tri Club 31 Ben Eedy (GBr) South Pennine RC 32 Philip Smith (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/Scott 33 Mark Leyland (GBr) Horwich CC 34 Dan Harding (GBr) Wyre Forest CRC/Fabricolor/Morval 35 Colin Miller (GBr) Coventry RC 36 Anthony Morris (GBr) 37 Robert Hunt (GBr) Eastern Region Velo 38 Scott Chalmers (GBr) Chippenham & District Wheelers 39 Mark Cotton (GBr) VC Lincoln/Mr Mortgage/SPS/Listers 40 Ben Oliver (GBr) Learhys.co.uk 41 Peter MacSorley (Ire) Apollo Cycling Team 42 John Hollier (GBr) Ritchey/Cycle Ops/Paligap/Kona 43 Jason Hawkins (GBr) Ridecov.co.uk Women Elite/Junior/Veteran 1 Sue Thomas (GBr) Voodoo Cycles.net 2 Victoria Wilkinson (GBr) Ridecov.co.uk 3 Louise Robinson (GBr) Stourbridge CC/Parker (Vet) 4 Gabriella Day (GBr) Team Fat Birds UK/Fat Birds Don't Fly 5 Michelle Bergstrand (GBr) Raleigh/ERV 6 Amy Thompson (GBr) GB Cycles.co.uk/Geoffrey Butler (Jun) 7 Clare Gross (GBr) Team Fat Birds UK/Fat Birds Don't Fly 8 Claire Lines (GBr) Gateway RT 9 Marie Stuart (GBr) Raleigh/ERV (Jun) 10 Sophie Johnson (GBr) Raleigh/ERV 11 Louise Day (GBr) Team Fat Birds UK/Fat Birds Don't Fly (Vet) 12 Lynn Bland (GBr) Norton Wheelers (Vet) 13 Chloe Parrington (GBr) Loughborough Students CC Men Junior 1 Tom Last (GBr) Matlock CC/Wards/Impsport 2 Jonathan McEvoy (GBr) Kinesis UK 3 Stephen Adams (GBr) Sherwood CC 4 Sam Webster (GBr) Triangle RT/Bianchi 5 David Fletcher (GBr) Newark Castle CC/Sherwood Pines 6 Adam Turner (GBr) Kinesis UK 7 Andrew Griffiths (GBr) Glendene CC 8 Louis Charity (GBr) Team Corridori/Specialized 9 Shaun Hurrell (GBr) Maldon & District CC 10 Jack Hibberd (GBr) Sandwell CSC 11 Karl Troth (GBr) Halesowen A & CC 12 Leigh Andrews (GBr) Fat Birds Tri Club 13 Sion O'Boyle (GBr) Newport Phoenix CC 14 Thomas Hibberd (GBr) Sandwell CSC 15 Osian Meilyr (GBr) CC Cardiff 16 Anthony Farrell (GBr) Rhos on Sea CC 17 Mathew Toplis (GBr) Shokwave Youth 1 Ben Roach (GBr) Rugby Velo 2 Alex Paton (GBr) VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ 3 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Merlin Development Squad 4 Michael Butler (GBr) VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ 5 Gareth James (GBr) Abergavenny RC/Govilon/Bike Base 6 William Verney (GBr) Shokwave 7 Daniel McLay (GBr) Leicestershire RC 8 Rob O'Loughlin (GBr) Welwyn Wheelers 9 Luke Gray (GBr) Dorset Rough Riders 10 Jordan Hook (GBr) South Pennine RC 11 Erick Rowsell (GBr) Sutton CC/De Ver Cycles 12 Lawrence Frost (GBr) Ashfield RC 13 Annabel Simpson (GBr) Raleigh-ERV 14 Timothy Rowson (GBr) Sheffield Phoenix CC 15 Max Sykes (GBr) VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ 16 Rebecca Thompson (GBr) GB Cycles.co.uk/Geoffrey Butler 17 Danielle King (GBr) I-team.co.uk 18 Rhys Powell (GBr) 19 Carl Harris (GBr) Eastern Region Velo 20 Samuel Fry (GBr) Welwyn Wheelers 21 Corinne Hall (GBr) VC de Londres 22 Robert Labuda (GBr) Bournemouth Arrow CC 23 Perry Bowater (GBr) Walsall RCC 24 Sam Harrison (GBr) Newport Phoenix 25 Oliver Webster (GBr) Triangle RT/Bianchi 26 Bruce Dalton (GBr) Matlock CC/Wards/Impsport/Farmers 27 Samantha Bryant (GBr) Marin UK 28 Gareth Sheppard (GBr) Abergavenny RC/Govilon/Bike Base 29 Penny Rowson (GBr) Sheffield Phoenix CC 30 Thomas Walker (GBr) Abergavenny RC/Bike Base/Govilon 31 Hannah Robinson (GBr) Ipswich BC Veterans 40+ 1 Philip Roach (GBr) Rugby Velo 2 Andrew Shaw (GBr) MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours 3 Andy Key (GBr) MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours 4 Mick Bell (GBr) London Fire Brigade CC 5 Ian Wright (GBr) Lichfield City CC 6 Mick Rowson (GBr) Rutland CC 7 Andy Barnard (GBr) MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours 8 Shaun Hammond (GBr) Wolverhampton Wheelers CC 9 Martin Eadon (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 10 Antony Green (GBr) GA Cycles 11 Mark Garrett (GBr) Coventry RC 12 Graham Clark (GBr) VC Lincoln/Mr Mortgage/SPS/Lister 13 Duncan Walmsley (GBr) VC Lincoln/Mr Mortgage/SPS/Lister 14 David Stevens (GBr) Triangle RT/Bianchi 15 Geoff Giddings (GBr) Ashfield RC 16 Garry Clark (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 17 Duncan Stuart (GBr) Keswick MTB 18 Darrell Bradbury (GBr) Norton Wheelers 19 Peter Wilkin (GBr) Cleveland Wheelers 20 David Garrett (GBr) Rugby Velo 21 Neil Tubbs (GBr) Sid Valley CC 22 Adrian Clode (GBr) Sid Valley CC 23 Richard Tyler (GBr) Coventry RC 24 Paul Dalton (GBr) Matlock CC/Wards/Impsport/Farm. 25 Mark Meacock (GBr) 26 David Seward (GBr) Bynea CC 27 Michael Roach (GBr) 28 Phil Evans (GBr) Coventry RC Veterans 50+ 1 Roy Hunt (GBr) Science in Sport.com 2 Graham Edwards (GBr) Abergavenny RC/Bike Base/Govilon 3 Martin Booth (GBr) 4 Clive Powell (GBr) Dambusters 5 Joseph Rowe (GBr) Wyre Forest CC 6 David Smith (GBr) Derby Mercury RC 7 Vic Barnett (GBr) Welland Valley CC 8 Tony Wilkins (GBr) MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours 9 Andrew Roberts (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 10 Terry Meechan (GBr) Coventry RC 11 Peter Mooney (GBr) Rugby Velo 12 Lynn Lines (GBr) Gateway RT 13 Richard Wood (GBr) VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ 14 Malcolm Wilson (GBr) Wolverhampton Wheelers CC 15 Mick Ives (GBr) MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours 16 Francis McGhee (GBr) Elizabethan CC 17 John Ginley (GBr) Condor RC 18 Michael Webb (GBr) Royal Sutton CC 19 Carl Brancher (GBr) Abergavenny RC/Bike Base/Govilon 20 Martin Hackley (GBr) MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours 21 Richard Banks (GBr) Rockingham Forest Wheelers 22 John Scholes (GBr) 23 John Hughes (GBr) Coventry RC 24 John Holmes (GBr) Derby Mercury RC 25 Stuart Hocknell (GBr) St Ives CC/Richardsons