Season takes shape
The 2001 mountain bike season is finally beginning to take shape for
Diamondback professionals Nick Craig, Barrie Clarke, Elliot Baxter and Matt
Farmer. With the foot and mouth epidemic continuing to put the blocks on
many sporting events throughout the country, mountain biking is being hit as
hard as any sport due to it’s obvious and unavoidable use of farming and
forestry land which have been tagged no-go areas for the past two months.
Although there remains some uncertainty as to how the season will take shape,
things are looking up as two major races are to go ahead and with the
addition of the European events, the action is slowly but surely getting
Switching from the fat tyres of the MTB to skinny tyres of the road bike has
not only provided some racing for the Diamondback Pro’s but it’s provided a
degree of success too! Nick Craig proved just why he was the man drafted
into the Olympic Road Race team in Sydney last year by stamping his authority
on the VC Chesterfield Road Race on Easter Sunday. Waiting until half way
through the 70 mile race to make his move, he caught the leaders and not
wishing to hang around for long, took off on his own to score a well deserved
victory. This victory came after another solid performance on skinny tyres
when he finished 16th in the recent Archer GP against all of the finest road
racers in the UK.
Craig’s new team mate Barrie Clarke made his debut in the colours of
Diamondback when he also competed in the Archer GP, finishing the 112 mile
event comfortably in the main group.
World Cup gets under way.
Barrie Clarke is always keen to get some racing under his belt, and with the
lack of early season events in the UK, headed off to the US for some off and
on road action. First stop was the World Cup opener in Napa Valley. Aboard
a brand new bike Clarke tackled the newly introduced ‘seeding’ time trial the
day before the race proper and finished a very creditable 37th which gave him
a reasonable start position – all important on a course made for the
technically gifted. The following day Clarke begun his first mtb race of the
season, and taking into account not being able to ride off road, let alone
race off road prior to crossing the Atlantic, a final 47th position was very
Following the World Cup event, Clarke went ‘back to his roots’ of his
victorious Milk Race days (remember that….well Clarkie’ won the King of the
Mountains in ’89) when he tackled a 6 day road stage race and attempted a
repeat of his Milk Race performance. With many of America’s top teams
competing, Barrie ended up finishing 2nd in the mountains classification, but
surprised everyone by snatching overall victory in the ‘hot spot’ sprint
competition on the last day.
Back in the UK, the racing is starting to happen. This weekend (April 20 –
22) sees the annual Bike Show at the NEC which for the first time this year
features mtb racing in the form of Biker-X. A cross between BMX and Dual,
the action is short, fast and exciting and features all of the top
downhill’ers and BMX’ers from around the UK. One of those names is Matt
Farmer who along with team mates Karim Amour, Denis Labigang and Martin
Murray will be looking for a Diamondback victory over the course of the three
days. Looking further ahead, the National Series is finally scheduled to get
under way. The first event is Rnd.1 of the downhill series and takes place
at Fort William on May 13 which is then followed the very next weekend (May
20) by rnd. 1 of the cross country series which is at Thetford Forest in
Norfolk. In the meantime all of the Diamondback riders will be crossing the
channel in search of some quality racing. The XC guy’s are heading for
Switzerland and the first round of their National Series on the 29th April
while Matt Farmer travels to France for rnd 1 of the Avalanche Cup in Lyon,
also on April 29th.
I’ll let you know how they do!