19th/20th October 2013: Rapha Supercross
There were cycling werewolves and cycling skeletons and oompah bands and walls of foam and tequila and frites and crashes and SO MUCH MUD!
Broughton Hall, Skipton and Phillips Park, Manchester played host to Rounds 1 and 2 of Rapha Supercross Series over 19th and 20th October 2013 and the Raleigh team were out in force.
With Team Raleigh colours on their backs our young U-23 stars Nick Barnes and Joe Atkins, Junior rider Dylan Kerfoot-Robson, plus our two wildcard entries, 16 year old Josh Wells-Walling and Three Peaks winner Delia Beddis (pictured left to right), gave a fantastic account of themselves in the Elite race, bringing the Team to fourth place going into the third and final round at Alexandra Palace on 27th October.
Broughton Hall, Saturday 19th October
Set in front of the impressive Broughton Hall the course was twisty, tight and due to adverse weather, a massive slog all the way round. It was also notable for its lack of tarmac and long straights, meaning there was little opportunity to get into a rhythm.
Instead riders found themselves accelerating hard out of corners and shouldering their bikes on the two unrideable sections, where the lightness of the Raleigh RX Race carbon bikes provided a distinct advantage.
With a good position on the start line, Nick Barnes got a flying start and was in first place for the first 0.5km before Paul Oldham took hold of the race and separated himself from the main field.
After the first lap tactics and luck really came into play as the conditions became ever more challenging and bikes became clogged with mud. The Raleigh pit crew, featuring none other than 1983 Cyclocross champion Steve Barnes, were in heavy demand as riders needed fresh, jet-washed bikes each lap.
Nick was our top finisher on the day, finishing 11th overall, just holding off a fast finishing Dieter Drogba and catching Mike Thompson in a sprint for the line. Dylan finished 22nd, Delia 32nd (3rd fastest female) and young Josh Wells-Walling finished 34th. Joe Atkins had more bad luck, crashing heavily forcing him to withdraw.
Phillips Park, 20th October 2013
With only a 24 hour turnaround Round 2 in Manchester would test riders’ recovery powers as much as their choice of equipment. Atkins in particular was on the treatment table attempting to heal his wounds.
With heavy rainfall overnight, choice of tyres and where and when to shoulder bikes would also be a defining factor.
The course was heavy going but unlike Broughton Hall, mud wasn’t sticking to the bikes as much so swapping to spare bikes wasn’t as much of an issue.
Again on the front row at the start, Barnes followed seniors Paul Oldham, Jody Crawforth and Steve James for much of the early part of the race with each rider gaining or losing seconds as they negotiated muddy sections and the tricky descent.
Barnes eventually lost contact with the leading trio as he was held up in the muddy section of the course and was quickly joined by Nick Craig, Dan Booth and Adam King. The four riders played cat and mouse for the final 30 minutes and on the last lap Barnes’ strong uphill sprint finish saw him reel in Craig just before the line to finish 6th.
Joe Atkins meanwhile recovered from a slip up on the first lap to chase back hard and hold his position with the main bunch to the end. Dylan also placed highly to give the team a cumulative total of 12 points over the two days.
The team now lie in fourth place and will be gunning for glory at Alexandra Palace next weekend aiming to make that elusive podium place.