Team Raleigh’s Barrie Clarke began his year 2000 racing campaign in style when he scored a fine runner-up spot in the British National Cyclo Cross Championships on Sunday January 9. Diamondback’s Nick Craig also started in style as he raced to fourth place in the title race. For the new Millennium there was a new venue for the Championship event. Foxhall Stadium in Ipswich provided a fast, dry course which in turn provided what surely must have been one of the fastest title races in the history of cyclo cross.
From the start, it was the Belgium based cyclo cross specialist Roger Hammond that led the race. Clarke and the other pre race favourites were all hot on Hammond’s heels and the pace was already high. Having spent the previous three days at the Diamondback team launch where sledding and photoshoots in the Italian Alps left no time for bike riding, Craig had made a slower start and was finding it difficult to find his racing legs.
At around one third distance of the one hour race, Clarke moved clear into second place and was chasing the speeding Hammond who held a 20 second advantage. Craig was finding his legs and had worked his way through to the Bronze medal position by the half way point as he settled into a group of four some 30 seconds behind Clarke who in turn was still frantically chasing down Hammond. However, it was Hammond who rides for the Flemish Collstrop team who had the form on the day – and was clearly at home on the flat, fast course as he held on to record a well deserved victory. Clarke never gave up and finished in the creditable runner-up position just 36 seconds behind the Gold Medal. For the Bronze Medal the race was clearly on. Craig, together with the National Series leader Matt Ellis and Carl Sturgeon attacked one another constantly for the last fifteen minutes of the event, with Sturgeon eventually breaking away. Craig bridged the gap with one lap remaining but just failed to get by him in the sprint for the line, settling for fourth position with Ellis in 5th.
The final round of the National Trophy Cyclo Cross Series takes place near Leicester on Sunday January 16, and Clarke will be out to lift the leaders jersey from Ellis, who has held it from round one back in October. The Team Raleigh rider presently occupies second place and will be simply out to win the final event in the hope that it will be enough to see him retain the overall title. Although out of the running for the overall series, Diamondback’s Nick Craig will be also looking to end his ‘cross season with a win, as he continues to use the events as part of his build up for the forthcoming mountainbike season.