The fifth and final round of the British Cycling National Cross Country Series was held on a fast and flowing course at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire at the weekend.
Youth category riders Sam Culverwell and Brad Vaudin were up first, racing over 3 laps of the challenging and hilly course. Culverwell was gridded on the front row and knew he needed good position in this final race to see him gain 3rd overall in the National Series, meanwhile Vaudin was aiming to finish as high as possible as he tries to gain selection for next year’s Island Games.
Neither of the Sarnians had the best of starts in the usual frantic surge off the line but half way through the first lap Culverwell had moved up into 2nd place in a pack of 6 riders, meanwhile Vaudin was midpack in the 50 rider strong field. On the second lap Culverwell got caught up in some loose course marking tape resulting in him having to stop to untangle the tape from his front wheel, dropping him down to 7th position. He then fought hard to catch up with the group of riders fighting for second position and entering the final lap he went to the front of the group, applying pressure through the technical singletrack, and attacking on the climbs he managed to ride off the front, gapping the group and pushing all the way to the finish to take 2nd position in the race and secure 3rd position overall in the series.
Vaudin continued to ride strongly and maintained his position well throughout the race putting in impressively consistent lap times to equal his best ever position of 14th.
The Elite race was held over 6 laps of the same course with Sarnian’s, Andrew Colver, James Roe and Mike Serafin racing. The race started quickly with the Sarnian’s all getting good starts, and by the end of the first lap Roe had moved from 20th on the gird to 15th with Serafin only 20 seconds back, whilst Colver was just outside the top 20 a further 25 seconds back. With 4 laps complete Serafin had worked his way up to an impressive 13th position, when his current string of bad luck continued as he punctured at the far end of the course well away from the pits thus ending his day.
Roe was finishing his season strongly and he had moved through field to finish 10th beating his 11th position from the National Championships 3 weeks earlier and becoming the first local rider to finish in the top 10 at the top level of UK racing. Colver by the closing stages had picked off a few more riders to edge inside the top 20, finishing in 19th position.
A great finish to the UK Cross Country mountain bike season for all the Island's riders- an Islands best positon for Roe and Culverwell finishing the season ranked No 2 in the National Rider Rankings.
With the UK Cross Country mountain bike season now complete, the island is in a much better place in terms of the strength and depth within the team then 12 months ago and something that they can build upon moving in the Island Games next year.