UK National Cyclocross Championships 2016
A weekend of full-on racing on a technical mud-coated course, pushing everyone to their limits and producing drama and anticipation was finally brought to a climax in the battle for elite titles.
The Men’s race was potentially wide open, with many contenders on paper looking to put Ian Field, defending champion, under pressure. However it was Liam Killeen hungry for a championship cyclocross title, who after seven podium appearances in the past, was finally able to take the top step, breaking Ian Field’s five-consecutive win streak. Conditions were to prove testing for competitors the whole weekend, with the recent rain, reducing the course to a total mudfest. Riders navigated the tough course, taking in muddy off-cambers, steep slippery banks, enormous puddles, alternating between running and riding in their quest to complete this challenging course.
In the elite race, it quickly established itself into a two-man race with Ian Field and Laim Killeen vying for the lead. Behind, the race was on for 3rd. First year senior Jack Clarkson firmly stamped his claim on that position and fought hard to fend of advances from Dave Fletcher and evergreen competitor Nick Craig, who the previous day and scooped the vets title for the 5th time.
With twenty minutes of cat-and-mousing, Killeen forged ahead leaving Field fighting hard to get back into contention. Keeping the pressure on and with just one final slip on the last muddy camber, Killeen finally was able to claim the title that has eluded him for his entire senior career, while Field had to be consoled with silver and Clarkson completing an outstanding race to claim bronze.
Another stranglehold on the UK championships was broken in the women’s elite race with long-term rivals Helen Wyman and Nikki Harris battling it out in the deep mud, with Harris taking her second championship title after another dramatic race. Wyman quickly established her command on the race taking advantage of the technical running sections, leaving Harris with a 22 second gap to contend with.
Over the next few laps Harris clawed back the advantage, with the pair side by side heading onto the final lap. Disaster struck Harris where an unshipped chain gave her rival a five second advantage. Harris worked hard to regain lost ground, and on the final approach to the finish, it was Wyman who suffered at the hands of a mechanical when a jammed chain left her floundering in the mud, leaving Harris a clear run to the finish and victory – Wyman disappointedly limping home to pick up silver. Bronze went to a delighted Delia Beddis.