Temperatures hovering around zero and a couple of inches of snow didn’t prevent a good turn-out for the final round of the 2015/16 National Trophy at the Milton Keynes Bowl on Sunday, with several of the top names in British cyclocross gathering to race in the mud.
Recently-crowned National Champion Ava Oxley-Szilagyi (PH Mas-VCUK) had sufficient points to clinch the overall Trophy victory back in early December when she won in Bradford but was there for the U14s race which turned out to be one of the highlights of the day, thanks in part to the efforts of Anna and Maddie Wadsworth (Beeline Bicycles) – who, having gained a safe advantage over Ava and the rest of the field, fought one another. Maddie proved strongest, finishing almost 1’26” ahead of her sister, while Ava took third 2’17.8″ later.
Meanwhile, the race was not yet over for the remaining thirteen riders still out in the snow. Millie Couzens (Zappi’s CC) and Harley Pell (CC Ashwell) both had their eyes on fourth place and looked equally capable, with Couzens managing to take it by just 0.6″ at the line. Several others were also engaged in their own private battles either with other riders or simply to finish the course, which all of them did – impressive stuff in such hard conditions.
1 Maddie Wadsworth (Beeline Bicycles) 31’06”
2 Anna Wadsworth (Beeline Bicycles) 32’31.8″
3 Ava Oxley-Szilagyi (PH Nas-VCUK) 33’23.9″
4 Millie Couzens (Zappi’s CC) 34’04.1″, 5 Harley Pell (CC Ashwell) 34’04.7″, 6 Amelie Wayte (Zepnat RT-Lazer) 34’38.6″, 7 Josie Nelson (MnD-Fusion-Gearclub) 34’52.3″, 8 Imogen Chastell (Welwyn Wheelers) 34’59.5″, 9 Sophie Lewis (CC Ashwell) 35’10.6″, 10 Sarah Briggs (Matlock CC) 36’10”, 11 Charlotte-Louise McGreevy (WXC) 36’16.7″, 12 Eluned King (Towy Riders) 37’04.9″, 13 Emily Conn (Palmer Park Velo) 37’38.4″, 14 Amy Cantelo (Solent Pirates) 37’49.1″, 15 Roisin Lally (Derwentside CC) 39’03”, 16 Aimee Zygo (Team Milton Keynes) 41’07.9″
Poppy Wildman (Nottingham Clarion) has quite literally owned the U16 category in this season’s Trophy, having won four out five of the previous rounds, but for the first lap at the Bowl it looked like Megan James (Abergavenny RC) was going to prevent her winning again – the new National Champ left the start line like a bullet, then hammered up the first climb and into the circuit to take a lead that, briefly, looked unassailable. However, while Wildman’s overall victory was set in stone, she wasn’t going to just ride this one out and have an easy time of it; she gave chase and had reduced the gap dramatically by the start of Lap 2, then caught and passed her. That one of them would win, barring a crash, was in no further doubt; but the eventual outcome was not decided until the final minutes, with Wildman clinching it by just 8″.
Behind them, Kim Baptista (Nutcracker Racing) led the rest of the riders throughout the race, despite strong rides by Xan Crees (Empella) and Elspeth Grace (Welwyn Wheelers). As with the U14s all the riders finished, with especially impressive performances from Connie Hayes (CC Hackney) through the running sections and Freya Butler (Welwyn Wheelers), riding her first National Trophy race, for 11th and 12th.
1 Poppy Wildman (Nottingham Clarion) 29’45.7″
2 Megan James (Abergavenny RC) 29’53.7″
3 Kim Baptista (Nutcracker Racing) 30’49”
4 Xan Crees (www.EmpellaCyclo-Cross.com) 31’04.4″, 5 Elspeth Grace (Welwyn Wheelers) 31’35.4″, 6 April Tacey (Leicestershire RC) 33’26.4″, 7 Lucy Naylor (Paul Milnes-Bradford Olympic) 33’55.4″, 8 Lauren Higham (Welwyn Wheelers) 35’09.8″, 9 Cecilia Hime (St Ives CC) 35’11.4″, 10 Olivia Bent (Border City Wheelers) 35’22.8″, 11 Connie Hayes (CC Hackney) 42’50.7″, 12 Freya Butler (Welwyn Wheelers) 43’14.7″
Having won all five previous rounds of the Veterans competition with faultless performance after faultless performance, Maddi Smith (Bolsover & District CC) was given special dispensation to race with the Elites. In her absence, Helen Pattinson (Solent Pirates), who was second in three earlier rounds and third in one, won with a lead of just over a minute’s advantage to second-placed Alison Kinloch (PH Mas-VCUK) while Nicola Davis (Beacon Wheelers) was a little over another minute further back for third.
The Veterans race consisted of four laps; interestingly, Smith’s elapsed time at the end of the fourth lap of the Elite race was 44’11.3″ – 1’10.8″ faster than Pattinson’s 45’22.1″, and thus sufficient to have given her a perfect six out of six victories.
“Never raced in snow before, interesting new experience!” Pattinson told Neutral Service after the race.
1 Helen Pattinson (Solent Pirates) 45’22.1″
2 Alison Kinloch (PH Mas-VCUK) 46’22.4″
3 Nicola Davies (Beacon Wheelers) 47’25”
4 Jackie Field (CC Ashwell) 49’47.9″, 5 Tracey Fletcher (www.EmpellaCyclo-Cross.com) 50’31.9″, 6 Nicola Hartle (PH-MAS VCUK) 41’40.3″ (-1 lap), 7 Julie Phelan (Pro Vision) 42’01.4″ (-1 lap), 8 Caroline Reuter (London Phoenix) 42’02.1″ (-1 lap), 9 Joanne Newstead (X RT-Elmy Cycles) 42’12.7″ (-1 lap), 10 Pamela Glover (Derwentside CC) 44.51.4″ (-1 lap)
Overall first place in the Elite Women series was also already decided with Hannah Payton (Kinesis UK) having amassed 167 points after Bradford – one more than closest rivals Bethany Crumpton (Boot Out Breast Cancer CC) and Amira Mellor (Oldfield-Paul Milnes) could have matched even with the forty on offer for winning the final round. However, with Crumpton and Mellor both on 126, second and third were very much undecided. There was also the matter of Sophie Wright (Renvale RT) – Wright, who contrary to popular belief has been racing cyclocross races for a few years and won one (U16, Eastern League #7) for the first time in October 2014, raced her first National Trophy race in November and then won a National Championship title earlier this month – marking her out as a rider enjoying a superb season.
Ffion James was fastest away from the start and hit the first bend and climb at speed, setting a high pace that would persist through all five laps; Emily Wadsworth (Beeline-Gener8) was hot on her tail and it looked for a time as though the pair of them would fight it out for the win between themselves. Crumpton, aware that her second place overall was in danger, made a heroic and successful attempt to catch them before taking control; James and Wadworth made her work hard to keep it.
James took the lead once more but Wright, who alongside Charlotte Broughton (Mid-Shrops Wheelers) had moved up to join the leading group, found a way through and replaced her as the race entered its second half. James responded, splitting the group into three – James and Wright leading, Crumpton a little way back, Wadsworth and Mercedes Pacios Pujado (Zappi’s) behind her and Delia Beddis (Vicious Velo) catching up fast.
The secret to Wright’s success is a combination of first-rate bike handling and an absolutely phenomenal power-to-weight ratio: she looks as though she weighs about the same as her bike, but as she neared the end of the fifth lap there was simply no stopping her – she was clear up the final climb, then sprinted into the home straight to finish up with an advantage of 25.8″ over James, who took second place. Crumpton, who had raced so well, took third; she was a little over two minutes behind Wright, but with the unfortunate Mellor feeling unwell before the race and settling for an uncharacteristic seventh place 4’24.6″ down, she had second overall in the bag.
Pacios Pujado was the fastest of the remaining riders from the leading group in fourth, followed by Wadsworth and then Beddis. Broughton, who had crashed late in the day and lost her gloves, finishing without them despite the temperature now below freezing, was eighth 38″ behind Mellor – a brilliant result in a situation that would have seen many riders throw in the towel.
Elite – Junior, U23, Senior
1 Sophie Wright (Renvale RT; J) 50’08.2″
2 Ffion James (Abergavenny RC; U23) 50’34”
3 Bethany Crumpton (Boot Out Breast Cancer; U23) 52’11.3″
4 Merce Pacios Pujado (Zappi’s RT; S) 52’37.3″
5 Emily Wadsworth (Beeline-Gener8; J) 52’38”
6 Delia Beddis (Vicious Velo; S) 53’57.6″
7 Amira Mellor (Oldfield-Paul Milnes; U23) 54’32.8″
8 Charlotte Broughton (Mid-Shrops Wheelers; J) 55’10.9″
9 Maddi Smith (Bolsover & District; V) 55’47.3″
10 Sophie Thackray (Oldfield-Paul Milnes; J) 56’25.8″
11 Rebecca Preece (Leisure Lakes; U23) 57’22.1″, 12 Claire Beaumont (Vicious Velo; S) 58’04.5″, 13 Abigail Van Twisk (Drops Cycling Team; U23) 58’19.3″, 14 Ruby Miller (Hargroves-Ridley; S) 46’40.4″ – 1 lap, 15 Hannah Saville (www.cxmagazine.com; U23) 46’50” -1 lap, 16 Laura Greenhalgh (Imperial; S) 47’02.8″ -1 lap, 17 Maddie Gammons (SRAM Development; J) 49’51” -1 lap, 18 Lydia Brookes (G.S. Henley; S) 51’48.6″ -1 lap, 19 Tiffany Fletcher (www.EmpellaCyclo-Cross.com; U23) 46’48.4″ -2 laps
Split into Juniors, U23 and Seniors, the top three places went to: 1 Wright, 2 Wadsworth, 3 Broughton; 1 James, 2 Crumpton, 3 Mellor; 1 Pacios Pujado, 2 Beddis, 3 Claire Beaumont*
*Beaumont finished behind Maddi Smith, a veteran given dispensation to compete in this race (see above)
Final Overall Top Ten
1 Hannah Payton (Kinesis UK) 167pts
2 Bethany Crumpton (Boot Out Breast Cancer) 156pts
3 Amira Mellor (Oldfield-Paul Milnes) 144pts
4 Annabel Simpson (Hope Factory Racing) 103pts
5 Mercedes Pacios Pujado (Zappi’s RT) 94pts
6 Emily Wadsworth (Beeline-Gener8) 91pts
7 Ffion James (Abergavenny RC) 90pts
8 Sophie Wright (Renvale RT) 86pts
9 Evie Richards (T-Mo Racing) 80pts
10 Delia Beddis (Vicious Velo) 75pts