Monday, 27 August 2012

6th at British XC Series Round 5

The cross country schedule I’ve followed this year has produced mixed results with some excellent results regionally, however my rides at the national series have been blighted by bad luck and fatigue. Bad luck can’t be helped, the fatigue however could have been avoided but sometimes you have to pick and choose which races you want to focus on, this is often to the detriment of others.

After the bad luck struck at National XC Champs in July I began to focus on my next big target the Kielder 100, this meant longer rides and less intervals so I wasn’t sure how the final National XC Series round would go. The course was a fast 6km circuit with short sharp uphill climbs and tight twisty singletrack.

Having only completed one National XC round this year I was gridded back on the 4th row. Off the start riders ahead made a slow start meaning I soon found myself at the back of the field. The open wide climb allowed for overtaking and suited my strengths so I quickly began to make up places. Lap by lap I passed a few more riders until I was inside the top 10, by now I was racing riders selected for the World XC Champs and most are full time cyclists. My third lap was the quickest of all the elite riders and my fourth lap was the second quickest.

Once in a group with brothers Seb and Hamish Batchelor I wasn’t sure how I’d outwit the pair and escape without pacing them but the course naturally split up groups as the climbs were so tough ridden at speed. After a lap I made my move escaping with Paul Oldham who was riding well, Paul gapped me toward the end of lap 5 as my chain slipped on a worn chainring. The worn chainring slowed me down slightly on that lap but kept my pace steady as I was forced to ride smoothly to avoid damaging the bike.

Laps six and seven were ridden alone but with my lap times again getting faster I moved up into sixth place. Paul Oldham went on to close in on the top 4 leaders finishing just behind them in fifth taking the final podium spot; I wondered afterwards if we’d been able to work together whether we could have caught the leaders.

After loosing all my world ranking points this year it felt so good to be back in the points and the money! A strong finish to the series is just what I needed and hopefully next year I can get back on the podium at a National race. To have finished on the podium would have been a fantastic way to say thanks to my sponsors but there’s still time this year with the Kielder 100 and a couple of races in France in October!

Special thanks to my sponsors John from Vermont Images and Chris from Mountain Trax for their fantastic support providing technical and feed support at events.

Thanks for reading.

Ben Thomas

None of this would be possible without the help of my sponsors

Mountain Trax
Santa Cruz Bikes
Fox Suspension
Rapid Racer Products
Vermont Images
Kenda Tires
Phenix Metabolic
Crank Brothers
Clif Bar
Scott UK

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