Moelfre is best known as a DH and 4X venue, so the XC racers were keen to see what the organisers would come up with course-wise. Opinions were divided by the just-under three mile loop. It was essentially an up-and-down affair – a grinding gravel track climb followed by a steep, technical descent, plus a short flat bit through the arena. Some riders loved it, others thought it too short, or not tactically interesting enough – realistically, the only place races were going to be won was on the climb.
Few would argue that it wasn’t a testing course, though, particularly in the hot conditions prevailing on the day. The first National titles to be decided were the Juvenile and Youth categories. Penny Rowson and Max Sykes took the Juvenile titles, with Sykes benefitting from a marker tape-induced mechanical suffered by race leader Luke Gray. Hamish Creber and the inappropriately-named Annie Last took the Youth titles.
In the Masters category, it was Ian Nimmo and Jodi Vickery on top of the podium. Adrian Timmis had ridden his bike at Margam Park and then dumped it in his shed for six weeks, which might explain the graunching of gears and accompanying slow start in the Vets race. He was soon up front, though, and stayed there until the finish. Gill Egner won the Master Women race. Roy Hunt won his third consecutive Grand Vet title.
The Senior, Espoirs and Junior categories were decided on Sunday, which was every bit as hot as Saturday. With Liam Killeen absent, no-one would have bet against Oli Beckingsale successfully defending his National title, and so it proved – he rode away from Phil Spencer and Nick Craig over the seven laps. The Espoir race was run over the same number of laps but started two minutes later. Winner Ian Field overtook most of the racers in the Senior category.
No championship jersey was awarded in the Espoir Women category as there were only two entrants. Amy Hunt won the race ahead of Sophie Johnson. Despite the two-minute time gap at the start, Hunt was getting very close to Senior winner Jenny Copnall. Tom Last and Amy Thompson took the Junior titles.
There was controversy in the downhill racing before the finals had even started. Marc Beaumont, who’s having a fantastic year on the international circuit, punctured in his seeding run and failed to qualify. Representations were made on his behalf by fellow riders, and the commissaires awarded Beaumont and four other riders “wild card” entries to the finals. On the one hand that looks like an agreeable and generous move, although on the other it looks fraught with difficulties – exactly what criteria are used to decide who gets to race and who doesn’t? Somehow we can’t see a similar thing happening at a World Cup race.
Still, it proved to be a pivotal decision, as Beaumont went on to win his first National title after favourite Steve Peat suffered a catastrophic wheel failure just before the line that put him down in sixth. Beaumont’s MBUK/Santa Cruz team-mate Neil Donoghue was second.
Tracy Moseley won the women’s race ahead of Rachel Atherton and Helen Gaskell. In the Junior categories, Brendan Fairclough added the National title to his European crown and Annie Dix won the Junior Women race.
The floodlit 4X championship took place on Saturday evening and saw plenty of close racing. The men’s final featured Will Longden, Dale Holmes, James Gould and Scott Beaumont, with Longden adding another jersey to the MBUK/Santa Cruz haul for the weekend. Joey Gough won the women’s title ahead of Kirsty Price. The evening was rounded off by an impressive fireworks display.
Unfortunately the National Championships’s bid to be a four-discipline event didn’t quite come to fruition. A tiny number of entries for the Trials competition led to it being cancelled. So if you want a four-way championship in 2007, pester a trials rider today…All pics: Joolze Dymond