Joolze Dymond comes through with words and pics:
The final round took place in a less than summery Alton. Despite the inclement weather, riders arrived in their droves to get a bit of XC action including quite a few that travelled a fair distance in order to get some quality racing under their belts before the ‘cross season kicks off.
With a 6 km course laying in wait riders could only guess at the fun to come; plenty of fun singletrack snaking it’s way along bumping over tree roots and surfing through mud whilst dropping into a number of bomb holes along the way and occasionally feeding into some tough short but sharp near tractionless climbs. In it’s history as an event venue, Alton has never seen a dry race and round 5 was to prove no different. The day itself was reasonably dry with just a sprinkling of rain and a humid damp feeling that did nothing to alleviate the slippery muddy surface. As the day progressed the many churning tyres, just added to the polish on the roots and churned up the sticky mud to some the evil looking flints underneath that lay in wait claiming many victims throughout the day.
Lee Williams gave the elite series leader Adrian Lansley a real run for his money, with Williams returning to the form he showed at the start of the season. A strong start with only Jody Crawforth for company saw Williams open up a comfortable lead. With Crawforth puncturing on lap 2 Williams spent the rest of the race riding pretty consistent laps to take the win, leaving Lansley to pick up 2nd and the overall series win.
Hopefully now with injuries and mishaps a distant memory, Williams can capitalise on his resounding win here to finish his season on a high.
Marathon specialist Sally Bigham dipped her big toe well and truly into the XC scene, choosing Alton as her debut XC race. Elite rider Maddie Horton was keen to make a race of it with Bigham but a crash in the early stages of the race saw her sidelined leaving Bigham to take victory, with a commanding lead of 18 mins over WXC rider Jessie Roberts. In 2011 Bigham will be stepping up to full time pro status, so we may very well see Bigham at quite a few more XC races next season. Despite a lack lustre race for Carla Haines, coming in 3rd, she had still done enough to capture the overall Elite women’s series title.
GB Junior rider Steve James put in an appearance as part of his preparations for the XC Worlds in Canada later this month. He cruised to the win over 3 laps leaving the overall win to Ben Sumner who just did enough to secure the win by 6 points from Hugo Humphreys. Ross Mallen’s win in the men’s Expert race secured him the overall series title too.
Master rider Jo Munden made it 4 wins out of 5. Despite another tough battle between herself and close rival Emma Bradley, Munden took her 4th win underlining the overall series win by just 15 secs. Meanwhile in the master’s men race Scott Forbes made it a clean sweep, taking his 5th win virtually unchallenged to take the series win. Forbes has taken the decision to step up to the Elite Category, hoping to find himself in the thick of the action next year.
Celebrating his marriage the previous day was Dominic McLoughlin and for the first two laps of the Open men’s race it looked like he might be celebrating in style has he looked to be on for the win, leading for much of the race. However he fell victim to the dreaded flints, puncturing with just 1/4 of his last lap remaining, leaving him to limp home in 3rd as he watched rival Franck Lebon take the win and snatch the overall series too with just 4 points separating them. Hannah Minter took the series win in the Open women’s race despite conceding the race win itself to Vicky Munro.
In the Vet’s race, Paul Hopkins had another fierce battle on his hands with Mark Hutt and Mark Chadbourne both keen to upset the dominance that Hopkins has been exerting of late. Despite some close racing Hopkins closed in for his 4th win, taking the series with Hutt just a tantalising 30 secs adrift.
With the newly crowned National youth XC Champion Jack Finch not lining up, Harry Franklin had an easy race to victory in the youth and to the overall series win, whilst younger brother Tom had a much harder race in the juveniles, eventually taking the win just 17secs ahead of Daniel Tulett, while Thomas Butler’s third spot was enough for him to take the overall series. In the juvenile girls race Ffion James racked up her 5th win to take the series, ahead of rival Gretal Warner.
For a full list of results of Round 5 and the overall Series standings please visit: www.southernxc.com
The final event in the Southern XC calendar will be in a few weeks, where the Southern XC Champs will be decided at yet another fun course – Pippingford.
Full gallery of images can be seen at www.joolzedymond.com