The UK cyclocross season grand finale was held in Derby on January 11-12th and it gave our riders the rare opportunity to all be competing in the same event.
The National Cyclocross Championships came after six gruelling rounds of National Series races and with National jerseys at stake, this was the event that mattered. However, weather and luck played a huge part in proceedings. Pit crews were tested to their limits, as were riders’ bike handling skills with everyone trying to pick the fastest lines through corners, reverse cambers, treacherously slippery banks with the course offering little time for recovery.
Up first was Harry Yates of Lichfield CC competing in the junior category on the Saturday with over 70 other riders. Harry had a fantastic start, propelling him into the leading group of riders from the gun and he held his place to finish 6th overall, well clear of the chasing pack.
With a heavy frost settling in overnight, Sunday brought different conditions to begin with. Ruts had turned icy and the course was fast and flowing early doors, although as the day wore on, the quagmire rapidly returned.
Dylan Kerfoot-Robson of Graham Weigh Cycles/Marsh Tracks RC and Jake Poole of S2 Cycles were up first. Dylan writes: “I deliberately left my warm up as late as possible as it was so cold, although it left me just a few minute to get off the turbo and to the start. Even though it was a bit of a rush it obviously worked, because as soon as the race was started I got a good start riding comfortable in second down the first straight then taking over the lead out of the first corner. I didn’t know but if I hadn’t have got myself to the front I could have come down in the crash behind me.”
Dylan quickly established a strong lead with Tom Craig but the decisive moment came when Dylan lost his front wheel grip and came down. Craig quickly gained a 30 metre lead and although Dylan clawed his way back in the technical sections, he ran out of road to catch the leader, finishing 5 metres behind in a desperate sprint for the finish. Dylan stepped onto the podium to pick up silver in his final junior race before he steps up to U-23 next season.
After his prolific season Jake Poole suffered some misfortune in crashes and finished 7th.
Next up in the U-23 category Joe Atkins and Nick Barnes were pitted against each other. By this time the course was in carnage with many sections unrideable.
Atkins had a bad start, coming off on a rut and having to fight his way from the back of the field to finish mid-table. He attributes the overtaking to the features of his RX Race bike: “the bikes weren’t clogging up as much as some of the other riders which meant I could change just every lap where as most riders were changing every half a lap.”
Barnes meanwhile was enjoying the challenge at the head of the race. After being gridded on the front row against British Cycling talent team riders he settled into a chase group and fought out a tactical battle to finish 7th.
Raleigh would like to thank all riders representing the brand in cyclocross this year. In our first year back in Cyclocross in the UK for many years each rider has done the brand proud. The riders have also provided high praise and invaluable feedback about the bikes which we are factoring into 2015 cyclocross models (yes, planning starts this early!).
The cross season continues for several weeks yet, especially in Europe where Jake Poole will be racing in Lanarvily on 19th January.