Elite winner Stuart Bowers
Round 3 of the Southern XC series headed south to Crow Hill in the New Forest. This is a new course for this series but an old venue not used for many years. Set on a hill top overlooking the forest it is a great venue with a great course and the riders confirmed this with many positive comments. We were blessed with good weather and this helped – it could have been a real slog if it had rained. The course was designed and built mainly by Darren Shepherd, Mike Radburn and Ken Farwell on many evenings over the last few months when they could have been out training. So if you liked the course thank them when you see them next.
We need to apologise for the lack of podium presentations as we had a breakdown with our trailer on the way down. This meant we had to get a hire van at short notice and one of the items that went missing in the changeover was the microphone, thus rendering the PA system useless. It proved difficult trying to round everyone up without
it! The final presentations were not so bad but during the day people were dispersed all over the arena and we struggled.
Just short of 300 riders turned up to race and all I spoke to loved the course – it has a good mix of singletrack, fire road, climbs, descents and flat. It was a good day for local riders with wins in many of the categories so they should be happy that racing has returned to the New Forest.
The Elite race should be the highlight of the day but with just seven riders it was a bit too quiet and spaced out. Where are all the Elite riders? Some are clearly racing elsewhere for ranking points but where are the rest? It is too expensive to have BC sanction the whole
event just to please the smallest senior category as the rest are clearly not too bothered.
Jon Osborn (Guernsey Velo) was leading the rankings through being the only rider to score in the first two rounds. Local rider
Stuart Bowers (Hargroves/Scott UK) knows some of this course well from
racing the Wessex Cross League and stamped his authority on the race from the start opening up nearly 30 seconds on Chris Minter (pedalon.co.uk). The gap to third place was another ten seconds but Ian Legg (Red Kite/Torq Bar) had closed right in on Minter on the end of the second lap. Sensing the threat, Minter responded on lap three and gained 22 seconds by the finish. Bowers, however, was never troubled and went on to win. He moves into second overall, behind the
consistent Osborn who notched up another 45 points for sixth place. Minter isn’t far behind in third with Ian Legg still in contention in fourth. These three all need to finish the final two rounds to stand a chance of the series title.
The real racing was going on behind though in the Expert/Super Masters race. With series leader Paul Hopkins (Mountain Trax) away, Mark Hutt (AWCycles.co.uk) took full advantage and decided that nothing short of a win would do. Hutt was in a class of his own and set a storming first lap to distance himself from his rivals. He then settled into a rhythm with some consistent fast laps and finished nearly two minutes clear. The big battle was for second place, with David Millar (API/Metro) going head to head with course designer Darren Shepherd (Tri UK). Millar set the early pace but Shepherd
passed him on lap two and looked comfortable. They were still together
starting the last lap but Shepherd slowed (probably tired from all the
course building) and Millar got away to take second. Hutt is now way out front in the series with John Hill-Venning second and Brent Collyer third.
Jeremy Olsen (Freeborn) led the regular masters on the first lap
but right on his wheel was Matt Carter (Epping Hard Cru.co.uk). Carter
gave Olsen the slip on the second lap though and pulled away with some fast laps – he finished two minutes clear of Olsen. Paul Hudson
(sprockets.uk.com) also found the technical course to his liking and took third place. Will Thomas (Evans Cycles) still leads the series with his seventh place today. Nigel Grantham (pedalon.co.uk), who was joint first, had a big crash on the first lap but rode round in a daze to finish twelfth, collecting vital points and hanging on to third place overall. He was leapfrogged by Allen Krutz (Leisure Wheels) whose eighth place put him second overall.
National Vet champion and local man Mark Chadbourne (Ride Cycleworks) took control of the vets race from the start and was never troubled despite an early chase by Sam Phillips (Beyond MTB/WDMBC). It was Chadbourne’s team mate Roland Tilley who surged through the pack after a steady start and gave chase but had to settle for second place. Phillips slowed on the second lap and his team mate Dave Nelson took advantage and took third. Chadbourne, Tilley and Mark Cracknell (AWCycles.co.uk) were all tied for first place going into this round but this has now sorted itself out with Chadbourne leading, Tilley second and Cracknell dropping to third.
With Ray Crosthwaite not present, Norman Butler (Bikeguatemala.com) took advantage and romped away from the pack to an easy win. Fastest of the chasers was Andy Roberts (Evans Cycles) with John Watkins 3rd which was enough to put him top of the table. Richard Wood (VC Deal/Hammonds /Activ) was sixth and jumped up to second overall.
The Juniors set some scorching lap times with Billy Joe Whenman (Marin UK) leading lap one with Shaun Hurrell (Glendene CC/Biketrax) right on his wheel. It was Hurrell who kept the pace high and pulled away for the win, consolidating his series lead. Whenman took second with Louis Charity (Team Corridori/Specialized) third. Jake Moxham’s (Dysons Cycles.co.uk) fourth place was enough to stay second overall.
The two lap Youths were also fast with Michael Butler (VC
Deal/Hammonds/Activ) putting in a fast first lap. He was nearly caught at the finish though by local rider Luke Gray (Dorset Rough
Riders/Prendas.co.uk). Butler, who was joint first in the series with team mate Alex Paton – who didn’t race at Crow Hill – is now well clear of second-placed Max Sykes (VC Deal). Steven James (Berks on Bikes) was third in the race and moves into third overall. Nat Jarvis (Team Darenth) rode the one lap race on his own, finished, bagged 60 points and is now leading the series 60 points clear of second.
There was a good battle going on in the Sport race as well for the podium and the series position. Andrew Cockburn (Cambridge Uni) was leading the series from Roger Browne. Browne was clearly the faster man on the day but it wasn’t enough to take the series lead as Cockburn was second. Henry Turgoose, promoter of the
forthcoming MTB ProCup event, was third. Gerald Tudor (Robin
Cycles/WDMBC) was fifth, meaning no change in the top three overall.
Tom Spreckley (Gearedbikes.co.uk) won the Open race but couldn’t stay with the first two in the CSR race that started with them. Andy Plewes took a comfortable win over Simon Parker. Paul Warner (Team Darenth) was second in Open ahead of Jason Canning (1st Gear Cycles/Gill) in third and Richard Bryant was fastest in the Fun race.
Nicky Hughes (Active Cycles) was the only Elite rider so she rode with the Expert/Super Masters. This caused some confusion to Lydia Gould (Torq/Kona) when Hughes went round for a fourth lap as she thought she was in the same category. Gould was chasing her but was happy to stop on three laps and claim her win over Marcie Reinhart (Oxford Uni/ Mountain High). Reinhart goes top of the table with three finishes though – Gould is second. Clare Hoy (Evans Cycles)
was third. Hughes leads the Elite series by a mile as the only rider
competing in all three rounds so far.
The Sport women was won easily by Amber Atkinson with Anita Lodej second and Kelly Jordan third. With no riders in this category having completed more than one race, there are no overall positions yet. The Open women was won by Catherine Green with Elizabeth Foot second. Samantha Bryant (Team Darenth/Marin UK) won the Youth race but it
wasn’t enough to put her to the top of the table – that honour goes to second-placed Hannah Barnes (Team Keyne). The Masters was the biggest field and the win went to a local rider Elizabeth Gilmour (Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers), with Mandy Hibberd (pedalon.co.uk) second putting her way out in front in the series. Kirsty Johnston was third on the day. Yet another local Carol Tilley (Ride Cycleworks) took a comfortable win from Stefanie Greenway (DRR). Tilley also moved away from joint first overall with Mandee Siegert.
The next round is on 30 July at Bordon. Further details at www.southernxc.com. Photos from Crow Hill are available at www.cyclingphotos.org.uk.