“Proper muddy cross” is how our riders described the first round of the National Cyclocross Trophy in Abergavenny, Gwent.
Joe Atkins suffered through a head cold and found it tough going in the mud. “It was a bit of a shock after all the dry conditions the last few weeks but it was the same for everyone. The bikes at least are feeling great, they handle really well in the wet. Looking forward to being 100% better and riding the Rapha Super Cross with the rest of the team next weekend!”
Nick Barnes reports: “The course is always a good one at Abergavenny in whatever conditions. When we arrived on Saturday the ground was bone dry and fast. However on Sunday morning all had changed, the fast sections became a slog and rideable hills became run-ups. It took me a while to decide on tyre pressures as I couldn’t decide whether to run them softer for more contact or harder so the knobbles bit in more.
“The start was ok; it was a decent length road section to the course. I was gridded on the second row in 11th place. Once the race had started Ollie Beckinsale didn’t get away very fast, but a gap opened to the right of him so I slipped through that. Within the next 150 – 200m I managed to find myself in 4th place following Steven James. We had a little tussle fighting for position over the first ¼ of a lap then settled down. By this point we had reached the very slippery adverse camber section of the course, I tried to take a wider line to get more grip. Hover this left the door open for riders on my inside; they then pushed me to the outside where there was limited grip. As I had anticipated riding on this part of the course I lost my front wheel and hit the deck, unfortunately someone landed on top of my bike so I was unable to get up and going as quick as I wanted too. This then caused the red mist to descend, and for the next 2 laps I made a lot of mistakes as I was panicking.
“After around 20 minutes in Jack Clarkson caught me, he made his way past and as I was struggling for grip he just rode away as I couldn’t get round the corners fast enough. The next 20 – 30 minutes of the race I steadily slipped backwards. However at around 2 laps to go I found my rhythm and began to make ground. I managed to make 2 places back and beat Hugo Robinson in a sprint.
“Overall I finished 13th and 5th in the U23. This is my best finish in a national trophy to date so I’m pretty happy, although if I hadn’t fallen off probably could have done better.”
The junior men’s race was won with a virtuoso display by Jake Poole (Dirtwheels Cycles) who stretched his gap on every lap on the top of the range Raleigh RX Team, finishing some 30 seconds ahead of second place Daniel Fox (RST Racing) with Christopher Barnes (www.Zepnat.com RT / Kuota / GSG Clothing) rounding out the podium places.
Here’s all the action courtesy of photographer Andy Whitehouse.