All bike trails lead to Cathkin Braes today as the best mountain bikers in Britain go wheel-to-wheel for titles at the 2016 British XC Championships.
An action-packed day of racing is in store at the Cathkin Braes venue that hosted the mountain bike competition at Glasgow 2014. Admission is free for the British XC Championship where the action starts at 9am with a morning of youth, juvenile, master and veterans races followed in the afternoon by the women’s and men’s elite races, together with Under-23 and junior events.
Read on for a preview of all the day’s racing, together with a timetable of events, courtesy of the British Cycling website.
Grant Ferguson goes in search of his fourth consecutive national title at the 2016 championships.
The 22-year-old from Peebles will have the backing of the majority of the Scottish crowd in attendance at Cathkin Braes – where the CST Superior Brenjens MTB Racing Team rider will look to transfer his international form to the domestic championships.
Ferguson has taken two top twenty world cup finishes on his first season on the elite circuit and will represent Great Britain at the Olympics next month. He will also look to become just the second male British rider ever to claim four British Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross-country Championships in a row.
One of the men looking to stop him is the only rider to ever win four or more British championships, Liam Killeen (Malvern Cycle Sport). The 34-year-old (pictured) has, in fact, won five titles in a row between 2008 and 2012 and has also claimed the 2016 British Cycling MTB Cross-country Series title with victory at Fforest Fields, his second win of the series.
David Fletcher (Pines Cycles Felt – Enve) is currently one place behind Killeen in the series standings following a year of consistent riding and will have his eye on a strong performance in Glasgow as will Specialized Racing’s Phillip Pearce, who currently sits fifth in the standings and with a number of world cup rounds under his belt in 2016.
In the women’s race, defending champion Annie Last (main picture) goes in search of a record-equalling fifth senior title.
Only Jenny Copnall has previously claimed the British Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross-country Championships elite women’s title on five occasions and 2012 Olympian Last, representing Novus OMX Pro Team, will look to join her.
One of Last’s major challengers could be one of the MacPhee sisters. Kerry (pictured) and Kirsty, who both ride for Rock and
Road Cycles, have shown consistency throughout the 2016 British Cycling MTB Cross-country Series, standing in sixth and 11th respectively.
Jane Barr is currently third in the series standings. The Velocity 44 Stirling rider is yet to crack the top five in the series in 2016, but has ridden consistently to claim four top ten finishes.
Maxine Filby (Cannondale Girls) is another rider who has had a fine season in the mountain bike series, finishing no lower than seventh in her three outings so far.
A strong under-23 line-up will take to the course in Glasgow with Iain Paton and Bethany Crumpton out to retain their titles.
Paton, representing 100% ME, has been a regular on the under-23 world cup circuit this season and competed at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in the Czech Republic earlier this month. Paton’s main challenge could come from his 100% ME team-mates, with Mark McGuire and 2015 junior men’s champion Frazer Clacherty also set to feature.
In the women’s under-23 race, Boot Out Breast Cancer CC’s Bethany Crumpton returns to domestic action after representing the Great Britain Cycling Team at the world championships. Crumpton will know that 100% ME’s Evie Richards poses the biggest threat to her crown. Richards, who finished fourth at the world championships, has also taken two second places at world cups in 2016 and has won every British Cycling MTB Cross-country Series event that she’s competed in this season.
Despite strong form from Richards in the series, it is another rider who leads the overall standings by virtue of competing in one more race. Novus OMX Pro Team’s Isla Short is one to watch in Glasgow given her consistent form in the standings. 2015 junior women’s champion Ffion James (100% ME) will also offer a challenge on her graduation to the under-23 event.
New men’s and women’s junior champions will be crowned in Scotland. In the men’s race, Will Gascoyne is among the favourites. The Sherwood Pines Cycles Felt – Enve rider finished tenth in the world championships earlier this month and will hope to continue his good form. His Great Britain Cycling Team team-mate Cameron Orr (Sran Youth Development) is another potential race-winner, as is Specialized Racing’s Daniel Tulett.
European champion Sophie Wright (Revale RT) will be the pre-race favourite for the junior women’s title, having followed up victory in Sweden with an excellent fourth place in the world championships. Joining Wright on the start-line will be a familiar face in Emily Wadsworth. Wadsworth was part of the Great Britain Cycling Team at the world championships in Nove Mesto and represents Beeline-Gener8 this weekend.
The is the full timetable for the day:
9am – Youth and juvenile boys’, youth and juvenile girls’ championships
10.45am – Masters, veteran, grand veteran and super veteran men’s championships
1pm – Senior, under-23 and junior women’s championships (including masters, veteran and grand veteran women’s races)
3.15pm – Senior, under-23 and junior men’s championships
First race is at 9am.
Admission is on the day. Free entry to spectators, no tickets required.