Words and pics by Joolze Dymond…
Grab your bike and head for Newnham Park for the chance to rub shoulders with one of the Worlds most iconic mountain bikers… Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja is in town! With all the women’s racing setting off in the first race of the day, now is a fantastic opportunity to be on track at the same time as Gunn-Rita, what you waiting for, it’s a real chance of a lifetime to see how you might shape up to this supreme athlete.
The 6 time European & World Champion and Olympic gold medallist headlines a truly international cast of riders as they flock to Newnham for the last decisive round of the BMBS XC. Countries represented across the categories will be Belgium, Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and now Norway! The day’s racing will be electric as round 5 is not only a UCI ranked cat 1 and so has loads of points on offer but also is the final round of the all important season long series, with series titles to be won or lost all day long.
Newnham Park provides a fitting end to the series. Regarded by many as still the best race venue in the UK it has been home to World Cups and National Championships and holds some great memories for everyone who’s ever raced or watched the action. Riders will be able for the first time in years to tackle the infamous ‘Pipeline’ as part of a classic Newnham 7km loop, which takes in all the best bits and leaves you wanting for more, river crossings and all.
Will Gunn Rita play with the pack, or will World Cup riders such as Kate Potter, Sue Clarke and Annie Last give her a real run for her money? Points wise all eyes will be on Mel Spath and Jenny Copnall, as only 4 points separate these two from that top position, however Kate Potter could seriously put a spanner in the works on the day, who knows how it will unfold. In the elite men’s race newly spliced Adrian Lansley currently takes up pole position, but Oli Beckingsale is looking for another win to end the series and take another title, however Liam Killeen could be waiting in the wings to snatch victory on the day. Both male and female expert titles have been decided before we start this one with Scott Thwaites taking a clean sweep so far, while Emma Smith has 3 clean wins, she should barring incidents go on to comfortably score the overall win.
The Grand Vets looks like it could be a battle royal with arch rivals Ian Wright and Roy Hunt separated by just 4 points, this one will go to the wire and will be thrilling to watch.
While Ruby Miller is in an unassailable position in the junior girls it’s certainly not the case in the junior men where Kenta Gallagher and Steve James tie at the moment. Will this be James’s revenge of the Nationals, we’ll have to wait and see.
Despite a less than perfect Nationals Masters rider, Nina Davies should scoop the overall title, going into the last round a massive 26 points clear of both Kim Hamer-Hurst and Emma Bradley.
While in the Master men’s just 8 points separate the top 3. Chris Rathbone takes pole position but with 3 wins and one dropped round, it could be Matt Barrett who walks away with the title. Another rider who had a less than perfect Nationals was vet rider Nicky Hughes, hopefully with 3 straight wins and a 2nd, the overall title should be hers and may go someway to make up for that disappointing day in Scotland. Richard John looks like a clear winner of the vets coming into round 5, 22 points clear of Mark Chadborne, but remember this is mountain biking anything could, and probably will happen.
Both youth leaders, Grant Ferguson and Bethany Crumpton had disastrous races at R2 in Dalby, which could have opened up an Achilles heel for both of them. All being well though everything will go according to plan and these two will take their respective titles.
It’s shaping up to be a wicked weekend of fierce XC battling of epic proportions with some of the MTB worlds top elite thrown in for good measure! It’ll certainly be a weekend to remember and a sizzling end to a fantastic season. Why not pop over and have a go or just come and watch the incredible athletes as they duke it out over some stunning trails.
Friday starts the proceedings with a fun team relay in the evening while after the intense racing on Saturday look out for some interesting floodlit Cyclo cross action Saturday night. Look out for Andrei Burton as he shows us how to pull some incredible stunts on his bike and remember for all our young attendees there is a free race for anyone under 12 right after the main presentations of the last race. Finally Sunday rounds off a brilliant weekend with the Newnham 60, a non-competitive loop of usually unavailable trails that are opened for this day only! So come on down and have a blast with us! The price will be undoubtedly be right.