The British National Mountain Bike Championships took place this weekend, with the Downhill event at Revolution Bike Park in Wales, and the XC National Championships taking place at Cannock Chase. After a spell of dry weather, rains came in on Friday and Saturday, changing the tracks for anyone who had scoped things out in the previous weeks.
We’ll have a full report on the Downhill race in our regular #MakingUpTheNumbers feature soon, but for those who can’t wait for the top three results here we have the summary reports from British Cycling.
Danny Hart and Stacey Fisher topped the podium as downhill national champions in an action-packed weekend of racing at Revolution Bike Park in Wales.
The venue’s reputation as a classic downhill track came to the fore with a perfect blend of bike park, open jump sections as well as tight, steep technical descents littered with roots and loose rocks to keep all standard of riders on their toes. But Hart and Fisher were best equipped to navigate the tricky terrain, and got their just-rewards with their respective triumphs.
Men’s and women’s senior
A dominant display by Hart saw the Maddison Saracen rider top the timing sheets in both training and seeding before going on to take the men’s National Championships title by just under a second from fellow world cup rider Charlie Hatton. They were closely followed in third by Joe Breeden in what was a high-class men’s field. [Check out the #MakingUpTheNumbers podcast with Joe here]
However, the steep, technical root-filled sections of the Revolution track played to Hart’s strengths with the Saracen rider appearing to be riding on a different track to his peers.
In the women’s race, after some controversy and a re-run, we saw the crowning of a new champion on her first appearance at the event. [Ed’s note: there was a dog on the course for the first run of the eventual winner]
Fisher took full advantage of the absence of Rachel Atherton, Tahnee Seagrave and Katy Curd to win the women’s field by 0.8 of a second from Chloe Taylor, followed by Becci Skelton rounding up the top three.
Clearly debut nerves were not an issue for Fisher as she confidently took her re-run midway through the men’s field, displaying calmness and a cool head in a difficult situation.
The men’s junior race mirrored that of their senior counterparts, with an equally dominant Luke Williamson taking the win by nearly 5 seconds over James Elliot in second and Luke Mumford in third.
The Propane Factory Racing world cup rider showed his class, topping the timing sheets in seeding as well as taking his second British national championship.
The junior women’s race was won for a second time by Rosy Monaghan by seven seconds from Tea Jensen in second and Megan Nevard in third.
Rising star Frazer Clacherty (Team Inspired) took his first senior title at the HSBC UK | National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships, while reigning champion Annie Last (KMC-EKOI Orbea) clinched the women’s crown despite suffering an early crash.
There were also under-23 titles for Tom Pidcock (TP Racing) and Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing), while Harry Birchill (Mid Devon CC) and Harriet Harnden (T-Mo Racing) took the junior honours.
With Hope Factory Racing rider Grant Ferguson trying to make it seven senior titles in a row, he was pushed from the start by Clacherty and Jason Bouttell (Espresso Library)
On the opening lap reigning champion Ferguson had a slender advantage over the chasing pair, however, the trio soon joined together and as they began a tactical battle Tom Bell and Joe Griffiths (TORQ Performance) started to close the gap.
By the end of the third lap Bell had joined up with the trio to make four at the head of proceedings.
As the quartet started to up the pace in the closing stages of the race Bell dropped first and then Bouttell was gapped as they approached the final lap.
Last year’s under-23 national champion Clacherty used his strength to attack on an uphill section and had time to celebrate his first senior national crown.
“It feels really good to finally get the senior title,” he said.
“I just attacked on the climb and got a little bit of a gap and held it for the rest of the lap. I was a bit nervous all race as you never know what is going to happen in a group. I’m happy to come out on top and I’m really happy with my race.”
Clacherty will be representing Great Britain at the European Championships next weekend.
Commonwealth champion Annie Last had to overcome a heavy crash on the opening lap to fight her way to an eighth national crown.
The 28-year-old, from Nottingham, was over a minute behind lone leader Isla Short (Short Factory Racing) at the end of the opening lap due to the crash.
But by the end of the second, Last had more than halved Short’s advantage to just 20 seconds as she closed back in on the leader, while Kerry McPhee sat in third a minute ahead of Amy Jo-Hansford (TORQ Performance).
Last took back the lead on the third, passing her rival before riding to victory with Short in second and McPhee taking bronze.
“I was feeling good and then I just made a tiny little mistake on the first lap and landed on my chest so winded myself,” said Last.
“It took a little bit to get back into my rhythm. I was feeling strong, I got back to Isla and took the lead so I’m really happy. It definitely wasn’t part of the plan, but it’s bike racing and you make mistakes and I did what I could to make up for it.”
The under-23 race was also a tactical battle with Team Inspired team-mates Cameron Orr and Sean Flynn joined at the head of proceedings by Under-23 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Champion Tom Pidcock.
Behind, Christopher Rothwell (BW Cycling) was a lone chaser as the leaders started watching each other.
The experienced Team Inspired duo continued to try and drop Pidcock on his weaker sections of the course.
However, they failed to distance him and, coming into the finish, Pidcock took the front and used his sprinting legs to take a clear victory.
“It was different and really tough obviously,” said Pidcock.
“I kept getting gapped on the transitions like going uphill into the descents and stuff. I had to keep closing them up and at one point on the second lap I got gapped and thought that I couldn’t go that hard for the rest of the race.
“But they eased up and I got back on. That gave me time to recover and then in the last lap I knew it was going to come down to a sprint, so I wasn’t going to get dropped then. It was something different for me and a new challenge.”
The impressive Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) again dominated the under-23 category attacking on the first climb and riding clear.
The 22-year-old, from Malvern, led from the start and was initially joined by Ffion James (Hope Factory Racing) in the opening stages.
However, Richards’ form soon showed and she had a gap of 1m 45s after the opening lap.
James was a lone chaser in second with Holly MacMahon (Bianchi Dama) in third.
By the end of the penultimate lap Richards’ lead had grown to six minutes with the same chasers behind working hard.
Richards took a clear win and almost went to complete a further lap after the finish while James won silver and MacMahon third.
“I felt a bit tired this week so I’m really happy to come here and enjoy the racing and to get another national title,” said Richards.
“The competition is really good at the moment, so I was super happy. I feel like I have tried to get better at not just riding away and blowing myself (up), but today I went back to it. This was my first course back after my injury so it’s nice to come back two months later to see how I’ve improved, and my confidence has got better.”
Birchill was in similarly emphatic form in the junior men’s race and was never troubled as he rode clear to take the win.
With national series winner and race favourite Charlie Aldridge (Stirling Bike Club) absent due to injuries suffered in a crash, the door was open for Birchill to take the crown. The youngster led from the opening lap before pulling out an unassailable gap.
Behind Jonte Willins (Peebles CC) and Jamie Johnson (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) were locked in a battle for silver. With a lap to go Johnston distanced his rival only to see Williams fight back to him on the final lap. Birchill held on for an emphatic victory while Williams edged the silver medal in a sprint finish over Johnston.
“It was really fun, once you were at race pace the course flowed and was nice,” said Birchill.
“I really enjoyed it. It was really hard from the start, so I managed to get a gap and hold it. It’s the third national championship jersey for me so I’m really happy.”
In similar fashion to Richards, fellow Malvern-based rider Harriet Harnden (T-Mo Racing) put in an impressive ride to clinch the junior title in standout style.
She was initially joined at the front by Anna McGorum (Peebles CC), Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC) and Josie Nelson (RST/Cycle Division Racing Team). However, by the end of the first lap Harnden had pulled out a gap while Flynn and McGorum chased together with Nelson just behind.
Flynn eventually gapped her rival to take silver while McGorum fended off the challenge of Nelson for the bronze medal.
“It feels really good and it was a tough race, it was a lot warmer than I thought,” said Harnden.
“Both Annas and Josie were going really fast, so it was tough as always. They kept me worried the whole race, but I just managed to hold them off and it felt good.
“I felt the course in some places it was a bit draggy but as a whole it was quite technical and tight which made it quite hard to get past people.
“It was good fun. I knew I needed to get a good start as it went into singletrack so fast, so I was happy to get a good start and see how it went from there.”
Other National Championships are taking place over the coming weeks, with the US Championships all in the one location of Winter Park, Colorado, this coming week, with the pro line races at the weekend. With all the results in, the winners will be eying up the competition for the World Championship, at Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, at the end of August. We’ll show our bias by wishing all the best to the UK competitors heading out there!
British Cycling should have the full results up soon on www.britishcycling.org.uk/mtb