Last weekend saw another success for Leeds cycling club as the team of Stuart Clayton, Hugo Humphries and myself took team silver in the cyclocross. This the best team result in this event since 2006 and the halcyon days of club legends Will Simmons, Matt Clinton and Anthony Salmon. This year Durham held the event, producing a competitive course which had just the right amount of mud to keep competitors on their toes: in some places this turned out to have a more literal meaning, with many of the front runners opting to run the slippery hairpin bends whilst less experienced riders found themselves over the bars in their attempts to drift around the course. With the esteemed National Trophy race occurring at the same time in Southampton, a few top riders were missing leaving the race open to less well known riders. However elite riders Nichols (Loughborough), Last (Newcastle) and Stewart (Sheffield) valued their universities over their sponsors and were soon off the front. Ex-GB and Endura rider Ross Creber (Northumbria) was chasing hard after a poor start. The leading group exchanged attacks whilst Leeds riders Clayton and Humphries capitalised on their strong start. Clayton maintained a top 10 position within sight of the leaders for the first two laps before falling back to work with Humphries, who together held consistent lap times just out of the top ten.
At the head of the race drama was unfolding with Stewart rolling his tyre off the rim causing him to fall back and run to the pits, where a speedy wheel change allowed him to quickly get back in touch with the leaders who had tried to capitalise on his misfortune. However this effort was to later cost him, with him losing a minute on Last and Nichols by the end. The last lap saw Nichols launch wholeheartedly into an attack, gapping Last and never looking back. Creber never managed to stay with the leaders yo-yoing between their wheels and no-man’s land.
I eventually managed to reel in the duo of Humphries and Clayton on the penultimate lap only to see Humphries have to stop to address a mechanical issue on his less than ideal steed. Tragically it may have been this mechanical that cost us the team gold, adding more evidence to the case that Hugo needs a ‘cross bike. A slip in the penultimate corner cost me Clayton’s wheel and with that my hopes of a Leeds-Leeds sprint evaporated. Clayton was just pipped to the line putting him in 13th, with me 12 seconds back in 14th and Humphries a further 56 second back in 16th. This left us 2 places off the elusive gold medal, awarded to Edinburgh with bronze going to Newcastle. This result gave us the silver to add to the team and individual gold’s won at the hill climb last month. Hopefully there will be more silverware to come at the remainder of this years events.
Thanks to the University triathlon club, whom without we would not have been at the event.