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UK National Trophy #3 - C2
Sports Centre, Southampton, Great Britain, October 30, 2005
Crawforth stamps authority at a muddy Southampton 'cross
By Luke Webber
Jody Crawforth rode away from the crowds and into a commanding lead of the National Trophy with an inspirational performance on a tough course in adverse conditions served up at Southampton Sports Centre.
A wet and muddy - but nonetheless fast - 1.6 mile lap claimed its fair share of riders and these were the conditions that seemed to suit the mountain biking contingent just fine. It was clear who had the handling skills, with the top four elite men being regulars on the mountain bike circuit.
There were several key points on the lap that had to be tackled correctly to win. Firstly was the first off camber left hander that had to be taken high and at speed. Next there was a wooded section which if taken fast was worth twice the time. Finally there was a small bank near the end of the lap. If it came down to a sprint finish it was here that the race would be won and lost.
How it unfolded
Thankfully the skies had cleared for the elite riders to get underway, but still many were getting caught out by a track that had been cut up by several previous races. First man down was Steven Roach, followed by five or ten other riders who, in the crowds, were unable to find a line around a long off camber bend which claimed many a rider throughout the day.
This chaotic start resulted in four riders breaking away early on lap one - Jody Crawforth, David Collins, Paul Oldham and Belgian Ronny Poelvoorde. Crawforth looked to be in his element in the muddy conditions and off of the back of an impressive victory in the previous weeks BEC and CAT hillclimbs he struck out to see who would follow.
Nobody expected such a manoeuvre so early on in the race, but half a lap later Crawforth was pulled back. With four riders going in to the long off camber left hander it was anyone's guess who would lead out the other side. Collins sensibly played safe and pootled around the bottom, but Oldham led in on the top line and went down hard with Crawforth on his wheel. Both riders were floored and there ensued a scramble for bikes and position.
Collins though could not make good his escape and it was Crawforth who attacked again, firstly to bridge to Collins, before putting in a killer blow over the boards, showing a clean pair of heels to the stricken Scott UK rider. Every lap, Crawforth seemed to delight in feathering his way around the muddy circuit, showing off the skills and physical fitness that earned him the title of 2004 National mountain bike champion.
Further back, Poelvoorde was paying for his early exertions and under 23 Ian Field made his way into fourth position. The final lap saw Oldham make a spirited attempt to close down second placed Collins, but it was in vein as he hit the deck.
Crawforth came over the line with 39 seconds to spare over Collins his nearest rival in both the race and points standings - a table in which he has an advantage of 34. Oldham held on to third and Field took the Under 23 honours with fourth overall - his nearest rival being Lee Williams who was some 30 seconds in arrears.
Two hours prior to the men's competition, the women's racing got underway. So far this year spectators have been treated to a thrilling battle for supremacy between mountain biker Sue Thomas, who seems to be making a Stirling recovery from ill health, and Helen Wyman - a rider synonymous with UK cyclo-cross.
Only one minute into the race though disaster struck for Thomas, as Amy Thompson's pedal became stuck in her wheel, sending Thomas crashing to the ground and having to carry out on the spot repairs to her bike. Wyman needs little invitation to capitalise on such mistakes and was well away, building an early lead and using her trademark fast start to her advantage.
Meanwhile, Thomas was fighting her way through the crowds, but another fall in the mud (this time overcooking a tight hairpin bend) put her further back. Wyman resorted to holding on hard in the closing stages, as Thomas reeled her in second by second, but on the final dismount section she slipped trying to take a new line in a valiant 'all or nothing' move, consigning her finally to second place and an overjoyed Wyman was left to take the top step of the podium.
Wyman now regains the series leader yellow jersey and will look to defend it at the round four.
Mick Bell returned to the top of the podium in a race of attrition that saw riders fall off of the early fast pace. Philip Roach was early company for Bell, but the pace proved too much and he was forced to drop back.
Later in the race local rider Antony Green sliced his way through the field, picking off slowing riders like they were standing still. Green, who usually races in mountain bike enduros admitted that if he could get a quicker start, or if the race length could be increased, he would have a far better chance of getting more podium finishes. With the mud and tough drags, today's race used up far more energy than the usual sprint round and it was this that allowed Green to take to the sharp end.
Bell retains his yellow jersey in the points standings, ahead of consistent performer Andy Barnard.
Roy Hunt took his third consecutive win in a category that he seems to dominate, whether it is mountain bike or cyclo-cross. From the start he led out and was catching and passing riders in the younger veteran category (that set off prior to Hunt's group) throughout. Commentator Hugh Porter MBE noticed the consummate ease with which Hunt was tackling the course and now it is almost beyond doubt (save mathematically) that Hunt will add the National series to his trophy cabinet.
In the race for second place Graham Edwards secured his best result of the season, obviously the muddy conditions to his liking. Andrew Roberts took the final podium place, just beating Geoff Bores to the line.
The Junior race saw three riders at the top of their game who taught everyone a lesson in cyclo-cross racing. Stephen Adams, Tom Last and Andrew Griffiths left everyone else looking like they were on a Sunday ride down to the local shops as they attacked each other throughout.
First away was Griffiths, who made a point of distancing himself from the pack, but credit goes to Last and Adams who saw the danger early and got their act together, bringing back the Glendene rider within the half lap.
Soon Adams had figured out the weaknesses of his competitors though and found his second bike had the perfect tyre pressures for the conditions. He pressed on and attacked, soon gaining a lead through the boggy wooded section and using his superior grip to gain the ultimate advantage around the off camber grass. Last and Griffiths could not respond - superior fitness would not be enough to retain time lost through the technical sections and Adams came over the line to take his first win of the National Trophy. Tom Last finished second, a position that maintains his narrow lead in the points standings, with Griffiths third.
A popular home victory got the day underway as Southampton rider Ben Plain timed his attack to perfection to get his first win of the year.
Rain and wind kept the course slick for the opening race and a lead group of Ben Plain, Scott Thawaites and Alex Paton established itself at the head of the field. Plain succumbed to the conditions early on - falling before the boards, but he managed to get back on the train. Alex Paton attacked soon after to try and split the group, but it was in vein and the riders stayed together right until the final lap.
Plain knew when to launch his attack though to make it count:
"It was a good course, but horrible conditions. I kept looking at Alex - he looked real ominous on the bike! I knew if I went for it down the hill and up the clay bank, and came out into the final bends in front then I would win."
It was a tactical masterstroke by Plain and he came over the line to cheers and a wet sponge - courtesy of his coach.
Second place was enough for Alex Paton to retain the leaders jersey, but Plain has closed the gap to 11 points.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Luke Webber
Senior/Elite Men 1 Jody Crawforth (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 2 David Collins (GBr) Scott UK 3 Paul Oldham (GBr) Hope Factory Racing 4 Ian Field (GBr) S.I.S.- Trek 5 Jim Bryan (GBr) Ace RT/Farmers/Impsport 6 Ronny Poelvoorde (Bel) Belgium 7 Lee Williams (GBr) CC Abergavenny/Owen/Doleq 8 Ian Wilkinson (GBr) S.I.S.- Trek 9 Ian Bibby (GBr) S.I.S.- Trek 10 Darren Atkins (GBr) Ridecov.co.uk 11 Steven Roach (GBr) S.I.S.- Trek 12 Stuart Bowers (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/Scott 13 Lewis Craven (GBr) Wheelbase/Ron Hill 14 Noel Clough (GBr) BikeTraks RT/Ultima Coach Travel 15 Alex Atkins (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 16 James Furniss (GBr) Matlock CC/Wards /Impsport/Farmers 17 Stuart Reid (GBr) Wheelbase/Ron Hill 18 Daniel Duguid (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 19 Ian Legg (GBr) Pacific Racing 20 Shaun Aldous (GBr) Interbike RT/Schils/Boyer 21 Stuart McGhee (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 22 Andrew Baum (GBr) Climb on Bikes RT 23 Dan Harding (GBr) Wyre Forest CRC/Fabricolor/Morval 24 Richard Lister (GBr) Fat Birds Tri Club 25 William Thompson (GBr) GB Cycles.co.uk/Geoffrey 26 Alex Forrester (GBr) Racing All Terrain Squad 27 Anthony O'Boyle (GBr) Newport Phoenix CC 28 Philip Smith (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next 29 Greg Simcock (GBr) X RT/Elmy Cycles 30 Roy Smith (GBr) Team Training FX/Bike-Cellar.com 31 Mark Leyland (GBr) Horwich CC 32 Colin Miller (GBr) Coventry RC 33 Brian Curtis (GBr) Team Corridori/Specialized 34 Carl Thompson (GBr) X RT/Elmy Cycles 35 Mark Cotton (GBr) VC Lincoln/Mr Mortgage/SPS 36 Robert Whenman (GBr) Team Corridori 37 Chris Atkins (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/Scott 38 Michael Warner (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/Scott 39 Jason Hawkins (GBr) Ridecov.co.uk Series standings 1 Jody Crawforth 144 pts 2 David Collins 110 3 Ian Field 106 Under-23 men 1 Ian Field (GBr) S.I.S.- Trek 2 Lee Williams (GBr) CC Abergavenny/Owen/Doleq 3 Ian Bibby (GBr) S.I.S.- Trek 4 Steven Roach (GBr) S.I.S.- Trek 5 Alex Atkins (GBr) Evans Cycles RT 6 Ian Legg (GBr) Pacific Racing 7 William Thompson (GBr) GB Cycles.co.uk/Geoffrey 8 Anthony O'Boyle (GBr) Newport Phoenix CC 9 Mark Cotton (GBr) VC Lincoln/Mr Mortgage/SPS Series standings 1 Ian Field 110 pts 2 Ian Bibby 100 3 Steven Roach 94 Women 1 Helen Wyman (GBr) Team Fat Birds UK 2 Sue Thomas (GBr) Voodoo Cycles.net 3 Gabriella Day (GBr) Team Fat Birds UK 4 Clare Gross (GBr) Team Fat Birds UK 5 Amy Thompson (GBr) GB Cycles.co.uk 6 Claire Lines (GBr) Gateway RT 7 Louise Mahe (GBr) Sutton CC/De Ver 8 Louise Day (GBr) Team Fat Birds UK 9 Marie Stuart (GBr) Raleigh/ERV 10 Lynn Bland (GBr) Norton Wheelers 11 Jennifer Forrester (GBr) Racing All Terrain Squad Series standings 1 Helen Wyman 114 pts 2 Sue Thomas 108 3 Clare Gross 79 Youth 1 Ben Plain (Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next) 2 Alex Paton (VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ) 3 Scott Thwaites (Merlin Development Squad) 4 Ben Roach (Rugby Velo) 5 Michael Butler (VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ) 6 Erick Rowsell (Sutton CC/De Ver Cycles) 7 Luke Gray (Dorset Rough Riders) 8 Rob O'Loughlin (Welwyn Wheelers) 9 Daniel McLay (Leicestershire RC) 10 William Verney (Shokwave) 11 Peter Dibben (I-team.co.uk) 12 Jordan Hook (South Pennine RC) 13 Gareth James (Abergavenny RC/Govilon/Bike) 14 Lawrence Frost (Ashfield RC) 15 Guy Wilkins (Individual Member) 16 Annabel Simpson (Raleigh-ERV) 17 Timothy Rowson (Sheffield Phoenix CC) 18 Craig Wilton (Team Darenth) 19 Annie Last (Matlock CC/Wards/Impspo) 20 Carl Harris (Eastern Region Velo) 21 Max Sykes (VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ) 22 Samuel Fry (Welwyn Wheelers) 23 Rebecca Thompson (GB Cycles.co.uk/Geoffrey) 24 Oliver Webster (Triangle RT/Bianchi) 25 Tom Yeatman (Oxonian CC) 26 Perry Bowater (Walsall RCC) 27 Danielle King (I-team.co.uk) 28 Corinne Hall (VC de Londres) 29 Thomas Walker (Abergavenny RC/Bike Base) 30 Ella Hopkins (Bikinmotion) 31 Penny Rowson (Sheffield Phoenix CC) 32 Bruce Dalton (Matlock CC/Wards/Impspor) 33 Hannah Robinson (Ipswich BC) 34 Georgia Delve (Mid Devon CC) 35 Hugo Humphreys (Lee Valley Youth CC) 36 Sam Bores (Lee Valley Youth CC) 37 Holly Northcott (Sid Valley CC) Series standings 1 Alex Paton 144 pts 2 Ben Plain 130 3 Scott Thwaites 120 Under-16 Girls 1 Annabel Simpson (Raleigh-ERV) 2 Annie Last (Matlock CC/Wards/Impspo) 3 Rebecca Thompson (GB Cycles.co.uk/Geoffrey Girl) 4 Danielle King (I-team.co.uk) 5 Corinne Hall (VC de Londres) 6 Ella Hopkins (Bikinmotion) Series standings 1 Annabel Simpson 120 pts 2 Annie Last 102 3 Rebecca Thompson 83 Under-14 Boys 1 Luke Gray (Dorset Rough Riders) 2 Daniel McLay (Leicestershire RC) 3 Max Sykes (VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ) 4 Samuel Fry (Welwyn Wheelers) 5 Oliver Webster (Triangle RT/Bianchi) 6 Perry Bowater (Walsall RCC) 7 Thomas Walker (Abergavenny RC/Bike Base U14) 8 Bruce Dalton (Matlock CC/Wards/Impspor U14) 9 Hugo Humphreys (Lee Valley Youth CC) 10 Sam Bores (Lee Valley Youth CC) Series standings 1 Luke Gray 120 pts 2 Daniel McLay 102 3 Perry Bowater 80 Under-14 Girls 1 Penny Rowson (Sheffield Phoenix CC) 2 Hannah Robinson (Ipswich BC) 3 Georgia Delve (Mid Devon CC) 4 Holly Northcott (Sid Valley CC) Veteran 40-49 1 Mick Bell (London Fire Brigade CC) 2 Antony Green (GA Cycles) 3 Philip Roach (Rugby Velo) 4 Mick Rowson (Rutland CC) 5 Geoff Giddings (Ashfield RC) 6 Nigel Hay (De Montfort Rage On) 7 Ian Wright (Lichfield City CC) 8 Andy Barnard (VC Lincoln/Mr Mortgage/SPS/Lister) 9 Andrew Shaw (MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours) 10 Duncan Walmsley (VC Lincoln/Mr Mortgage/SPS/Lister) 11 Andrew MacDonald (GA Cycles) 12 Adge Last (Matlock CC/Wards/Impsport/Farm.) 13 Andy Cosgrove (Teesdale CRC) 14 Graham Clark (VC Lincoln/Mr Mortgage/SPS/Lister) 15 Martin Eadon (Evans Cycles RT) 16 Duncan Stuart (Keswick MTB) 17 Garry Clark (Evans Cycles RT) 18 Mark Garrett (Coventry RC) 19 Robin Delve (Mid Devon CC) 20 Darrell Bradbury (Norton Wheelers) 21 Chris Trevallion (Reading CC) 22 Malcolm Cross (Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next) 23 Phil Bibby (Science in Sport.com) 24 David Garrett (Rugby Velo) 25 Gary Allan (GA Cycles) 26 Adrian Elson (Coventry RC) 27 Adrian Clode (Sid Valley CC) 28 Anthony Dyment (North Hants RC) 29 Martyn Dymond (Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/Scott) 30 Paul Dalton (Matlock CC/Wards/Impsport/Farm.) 31 Russell Wakefield (Derwent Valley ATC) 32 Mark Meacock (Individual Member) 33 Lester Young (Individual Member) Series standings 1 Mick Bell 133 pts 2 Andy Barnard 102 3 Philip Roach 96 Veteran 50+ 1 Roy Hunt (Science in Sport.com) 2 Graham Edwards (Abergavenny RC/Bike Base/Govilon) 3 Andrew Roberts (Evans Cycles RT) 4 Geoff Bores (Lee Valley Youth CC) 5 Vic Barnett (Welland Valley CC) 6 David Smith (Derby Mercury RC) 7 Joseph Rowe (Wyre Forest CC) 8 Chris Gooch (Team Clean/Timeout) 9 Terry Meechan (Coventry RC) 10 Mick Ives (MI Racing/Fuji/Thule/Sports Tours) 11 Richard Wood (VC Deal/Hammonds/Activ) 12 Tony Wilkins (GS CdS Boghetta) 13 Francis McGhee (Elizabethan CC) 14 Gavin Shaw (Team Velo Vet) 15 Geoff Booker (Oxonian CC) 16 Peter Mooney (Rugby Velo) 17 Malcolm Wilson (Wolverhampton Wheelers CC) 18 Mick Curtis (Team Corridori/Specialized) 19 Stuart Hocknell (St Ives CC/Richardsons) 20 Chris Reed (London Phoenix CC) Series standings 1 Roy Hunt 120 pts 2 Geoff Bores 76 3 David Smith 76 Juniors 1 Stephen Adams (Sherwood CC) 2 Tom Last (Matlock CC/Wards/Impsport) 3 Andrew Griffiths (Glendene CC) 4 David Fletcher (Newark Castle CC/Sherwood Pines) 5 Sam Webster (Triangle RT/Bianchi) 6 Louis Charity (Team Corridori) 7 Peter Banham (Wyre Forest CC/Fabricolor/Morval) 8 Shaun Hurrell (Maldon & District CC) 9 Thomas Butt (I-Team.co.uk) 10 Lewis Harris (Rugby Velo) 11 Jonathan McEvoy (Kinesis UK) 12 Leigh Andrews (Fat Birds Tri Club) 13 Adam Turner (Kinesis UK) 14 Luke Allen (R.A.T.S.) 15 Ben Stockdale (Evesham & District Wheelers) 16 Sion O'Boyle (Newport Phoenix CC) Series standings 1 Tom Last 108 pts 2 Stephen Adams 104 3 David Fletcher 89