The 2015 British National XCO Championships were held on the purpose built track at Hadleigh Park on the Thames Estuary, site of the London Olympics. The course, now open to the public, had however undergone some changes since the Games, to make it a more fun riding experience for the general population.
A number of the most iconic features had been retained – to add a little technical interest. These also broke up the incredibly fast single line hard pack motorway sections, that made up the majority of the course.
Seb – “I last rode at Hadleigh in 2011, during the Olympic test event, so had an idea on the course. However I had forgotten quite how fast it rode, although this was slightly compounded by a reduction in elevation gain from before. I was also slightly disappointed to find the main grass climb changed to more of a switchback hard track, as before, this was one of the most decisive sections, although I can see the reason as to why it was done – to make the venue a trail centre.”
With no prolonged climbs or descents, it was clear that the race was going to be relentless from the start. The power was going to have to be on for the duration, with no let up.
The nature of the open landscape and design of the 4.3Km lap with 150m of climb course made it fantastic for supporters to watch the action. It was great to have some solid support for the team out on course, including friends, family, fellow riders and sponsors such as Richard Holt from TRILUX UK.
Tom had a strong race in his first serious outing since his injury and despite a few holdups on the first lap, settled into a decent position and rhythm for the race.
Tom – “It was a hot day and a punchy course, so it was a case of going as fast as possible without overheating and burning up too much effort in the first few laps. I’m still returning from injury and was unsure about my shape, so it was a pleasant surprise to see my body work with me for the first time since coming back.”
Hamish – “I saw Seb get the holeshot off the line and I quickly tucked in near the front before working my way up to him towards the end of the first lap. I put in a really hot lap to pull us both up to the riders ahead, as I knew on a course like this, that once the gaps go out, they are very hard to reel back in.”
All riders looked strong on course, and the team was getting plenty of attention having three racers in the mix. Seb was looking good for 3rd place until tying up in the closing 500m to slip to 4th, Hamish suffered an untimely mechanical (also just before the line) but held 7th, and Tom put all riders in the top 10 with a great 9th.
Tom – “The race as a whole went smoothly for me, with no mishaps or technical issues and I actually really enjoyed the course – despite it being very different from the kind of venues we usually race at. I felt strong on the climbs, satisfactory on the descents and was happy to put in some solid last laps, that saw me almost catch up to several riders in front of me.”
Hamish – “The race went exactly as expected, it was really fast and full on, with limited opportunities to recover. I felt I was riding well on the climbs and the main rocky descent. Despite loosing a place due to a small mechanical at the end, I was happy with how the day went.”
Seb – “Hamish gave me a wheel exactly when I needed one. That brief respite early on, gave me time to come round slightly. For whatever reason, I still felt like I was riding tight throughout the race, and it was very disappointing to loose a spot on the podium right at the end. However, on reflection, it was a solid ride and as always I’ll learn from it and take that on to my next race.”
Placing all three riders inside the top ten, undoubtedly marked the team out as the top performing Elite setup at the Championships. Some fantastic results and performances all round, and next year we will look to come away with a jersey!