Sport winner Mark Russell takes an early lead at Surrey Hill (Pic: Luke Webber)
The penultimate round of the south’s premier XC series saw titles decided and new rivalries forged on a real mountain bikers course at Surrey Hill. Five miles of dry singletrack, rooty downhills and a mini downhill course with jumps tested even locals, with many trails being run backward to add variety.
Rider of the day had to be Lewis Marsh (InterBike RT) who has obviously been taking tips from multiple-race specialist Rob Lee. After winning the Youth race he then taught the Open category how to secure victory, cutting through most of the Sport field in the process.
Michael Serafin won the Junior race just ahead of Guernsey Velo team-mate John Mapley and now has a real chance of becoming Southern XC champion. He’ll have to get past Rob Whenman first though, who hasn’t lost a race this year.
Phil Blacker (Wyre Forest CC) had the right idea to win the Masters race – pull out a minute on lap one and hold on tight for the win. Marcus Brueton (Norwood Paragon) was second, two minutes adrift, with Chris Hunt third.
Mark Chadbourne (Ride Cycleworks) continued his winning streak in the Veterans, making it five from five. Dave Nelson (Beyond MTBs/West Drayton MBC) took second and Roland Tilley (Ride Cycleworks) third.
The Grand Veterans series was still wide open before the race start, but come the finish Norman Butler (BikeGuatemala.com) had the race and title in the bag.
The biggest races were saved until last and the Elite men’s field had a good variety of fresh faces and old hands, which made for an exciting race. Duncan Jamieson (Leisure Lakes), Rob English (BikeRevUK.com), Nick Collins (VC Deal/Activ) and Steve Hambling (VCDeal/Activ) were in the select group after lap one, but by lap four it was Jamieson and English head to head. Jamieson attacked and English had all the answers, but come lap five English was out for the count and despite Jamieson flatting close to the line, the victory was still comfortable.
His second win of the series and two second places secures Jamieson the 2005 Southern XC Elite title, finishing a great year after a fifth in the National Championships and winning Sleepless in the Saddle as part of the Scott UK team last weekend.
It could have been a far closer race up front, had Marcos Schier’s
(Foska/Torq Bar) saddle and seatpost not detached – something he had to fix using a spare tube and some deft knotting. What he’d have done if he’d flatted is anyone’s guess… Schier eventually finished fifth, with Sport champion George Budd (Titus Cycles UK) making the leap into the lions’ den and coming out alive, in seventh.
Super Masters series champ Simon Willats was absent, leaving Paul Hopkins (Wheels/Hambledons) to return to the top step of the podium for the first time since 2004 (where he won every race). Mark Hutt (Houndslow and District Wheelers) was second and Andrew Parsons (Wheels/Hambledons) third.
The final race of the day was Sport, which saw the return of Mark Russell (Torq Bar/Wheelies). A group of five riders soon formed, but the elastic snapped on lap three, with the sharp climbs taking their toll and only Carl Harris (Halfords/Bikehut) able to keep up. Russell came over the line first, with Harris second and Gerald Tudor (Robins Cycles/West Drayton MBC) third.
In the women’s races Gemma Carter (Activ) took her second Elite win of the year, but the series is between Caroline Goward and Nicky Hughes (Activ), the latter increasing her chances with a third in the race. In the Sport race, Amy Thompson (BikePlus) took an easy win, but Fran Moore’s second place secured her the series title. Jackie Roberts (Beyond MTB) won the Super Masters, Karen Brammer (Leisure Wheels) took the Masters and Kate Wheeler took the Veterans on the line from Carol Tilley (Ride Cycleworks).
The series finale is on September 25 at Checkendon, where final series prizes and titles will be handed out and decided, so come on down and lap up the atmosphere!
Full results are available at www.timelaps.co.uk.