The second round of the British National XC Series moved to the South West and to the iconic venue of Newnham Park (which also hosted rounds of the World Cup in the early ‘90’s), on the outskirts of Plymouth. In its four year absence from the National Circuit, the course had undergone major works..
Using the natural valley, the track designers put together an interesting course. Linking up various different technical challenges with two climbs and also a large amount of flat power sections – there was a little bit of everything for the riders to get stuck in to.
Seb “Following practice, I wasn’t too sure on how the course rode, it felt quite bitty and lacking flow. Although that wasn’t helped by the number of riders on course – with such a varying ability which made it difficult to get a clean lap in. However, I was really pleased to find a couple of steep tough climbs and some tech sections (which are often lacking in British courses), so hats off to the organisers on that.”
Hamish got off to a cracking start, swooping round on the outside from his second row gridding, with Tom following just behind. Seb however got caught behind Swiss rider Martin Gujan, who had a problem off the line and found himself squeezed out at the first bottleneck of the course.
Hamish – “I had a good jump off the line and swung wide on the first left hander around the outside. I got myself in to the first handful of positions, which was perfect to avoid any chance of queuing early on. So far this Season, my starts have been really consistent. It’s often an area that is overlooked but is vitally important.”
As the race unfolded, Hamish held his position within the top 10 and Seb continued to fight his way through the pack, to join Hamish nearing the half way point. Behind, Tom was looking good for a top 15, when he got caught behind a slower rider and had to dismount. In the process, he awkwardly went over on his ankle rendering him unable to continue the race.
Seb continued to power his way through the field, with his eyes set on potentially closing down to a podium position. “I was really loving the climbs, the steepness suited me down to the ground and I was able to take so much time on the riders around me with each lap.”
Coming in to the end of the last lap, Seb was hit by a rider in another race category (who was coming back on to the course from the ‘B’ line). In the impact, Seb’s rear wheel was damaged and he punctured, which cost him the opportunity to sprint out for 6th place. As a result, he nurtured the bike to the Finish for 7th, a good result given the circumstances.
Seb – “I really felt strong out there and am disappointed not to have been on the podium with the legs I had. Getting caught up at the start really blew it and then the broken wheel towards the end topped it off. Although there are still lots of positives I can take forward from this and 7th is a good result in a quality field. Plus last Season I missed so much due to injury, so I’ve picked up some more valuable World Ranking points to continue moving back up.”
As the race dragged on, Hamish began to feel the heat and the duration and would eventually come in to finish 20th. “It just wasn’t my day today. The start was good, but my speed endurance wasn’t there. After crashing out in Portugal, I just wanted to get this race under my belt and I’ve done that, so now I can move forward and start to push for the top results I know I can deliver.”
It was a weekend of mixed emotions in the team camp, severe frustration for Tom, but also lots of goodness to take away and build on going forwards through the Season and in to the next races.
Having undergone initial tests, Tom sustained ligament damage to his ankle which has him side lined and off the bike. After further tests and consultations, we will know more as to whether the injury can be treated conservatively, or if it will require surgery.
It is naturally extremely frustrating for Tom, but he is in great shape, so will be able to keep his recovery and rehab time down to a minimum and be back racing later in the Season. More information to follow.