The first round of the Midlands XC series falls just a week away from the first round of the first National XC rounds, which marks the official start of the competitive season for many racers on the UK scene..
With many athletes’ winter training meeting it’s pinnacle, this race offers the riders a perfect opportunity to test the legs before the key race at Sherwood the following weekend. As a vital training race for many, the first rounds of the TORQ-fuelled Midlands XC series at Cannock Chase attracted a field not too dissimilar from a national round of the XC series, with a number of usual podium contenders in both the elite male and female XC category travelling from far and wide to compete.
The Midlands XC series is now concreted in the calendar of UK MTB Racing, as a well run race series, and this year we are proud to be helping support the series, with the team and the TORQ bus, along to every round as well as some course support at the final round at Eastridge, our local MTB playground.
With cold but relatively dry conditions, the venue narrowly avoided heavy snow which was reported to be falling just a few miles away! First riders off for TORQ were elite females and new signings to the team Joanne Clay and Jessie Roberts.
Joanne, a relative newcomer to the sport, having only started racing in 2011, joins the team as a seccond year elite rider having finished 5th in here first ever elite national race and 5th overall in last year’s national XC series. Joanne not only excels on the MTB, having taken podiums at a National level and competed among some of the best on the world stage, but also has some respectable results on the road, having finished 2nd in last year’s national hill climb champs.
Jessie Roberts is another equally talented rider, entering her 3rd year in the elite category. Jessie has podiums at a national level in both the national XC series and championship, as well as a National Student title to her name. Jessie also has number of respectable results on the world stage having attended two of the world cup series last year.
After a pretty chaotic start, which saw Joanne having to fight her way from the back of the grid after a crash, the race got underway. After the first couple of laps a lead group formed and was quickly whittled down to a battle between Jessie and former World Champion Downhill rider Tracey Mosley (see Tracey’s blog on Bike Magic here. http://bikemagic.com/zfeaturedbox/tracy-moseley-racing-begins.html) with Jessie gaining time on the climbs. After 4 gruelling laps on the tight and twisty course, Jessie took the win just over a minute clear of Tracey; an excellent start to the season. Joanne followed shortly in 6th place after battling her way back into the race.
In the men’s race, with Lee Westwood and Ben Price out due to injury, it was up to Chris Andrews and new signing Neal Crampton to fly the TORQ banner. After a great winter, Chris was gunning for a top result and, after getting close to the hole shot for the first corner, was taken out by another rider who fell in front of him. A crash followed (pictured above) which, unfortunately for Chris, spelled the end of his race. This left just Neal in the race and, after some consistent lap times, Neal finished a respectable 8th place in a high quality elite field. Neal comes from a strong endurance background with great results in many European Marathon Events and 2nd place in the 2011 3 peaks cyclo cross event. Expect to see Neal putting in some solid results at some of the UK major marathon events this year.
Thank you to Jacob James of www.twitter.com/@CX_JacobJ for the photographs.
As always, a big thank you to all the team sponsors, without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Watch out over the coming weeks for the full press release on the 2013 team.
www.whytebikes.com – Frames & Wheels
www.shimano.com – Drivetrain & Brakes
www.chapeaucycling.co.uk – Team Clothing
www.amphibia-sport.com – Custom Kit Bags
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools & Bottle Cages
www.srsuntour-cycling.com – SR Suntour Suspension Forks
www.exposurelights.com – Advanced Lighting
www.juicelubes.co.uk – Lubrication
www.lakecycling.com – Shoes
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.joolzedymond.com – Photography
Follow the TORQ Performance MTB team’s progress on their Facebook page: