On Sunday the 13th December was Round 5 of the British Cycling National Trophy Cyclo-Cross Series. There are six rounds altogether so one remaining in Milton Keynes in mid-January.
These races attract the very best of British talent and whilst the Inspire VCUK riders have not attended all the rounds, both Cory and Lewis have entered in the rounds that require less travelling.
At the last minute, Cory was unable to travel to Bradford having experienced some kind of winter bug sickness on Saturday night, so it was down to Lewis Hartley to show his form at the very wet and muddy terrain of Peel Park in Bradford!
The race got going at 12noon, taking place after several other races for different categories, so the ground was already very cut-up. The main problem with this kind of ground is the mud, mixed with leaves, collecting on the bike. This not only slows the bike down because of the rubbing between moving parts and the frame but also make the bike very heavy. It essentially forced the riders into the pits every half lap for a bike change. So while one bike is ridden, the spare bike is being cleaned by the VCUK pit team ( thanks to Sinéad Burke in particular for helping out).
The first lap involved the best riders in the race making progress towards the front, especially after a few minor collisions early on when large numbers of riders were trying to negotiate tight and slippery turns.
The rider to make the biggest impact early on was Lewis Askey (Lichfield City CC) who pulled out a decent lead in the first quarter of the race which continued thereafter. Around fifteen seconds back was Lewis Hartley from the Inspire VCUK Racing Team, looking very good in 2nd place with Charlie Craig and Ben Tulett not too far behind.
In the latter stages of the race, say last 10 minutes, Lewis made a mistake and slipped off his bike on a technical descent. This is not unusual at any level in this game but this error cost him 2nd place overall as Ben Tulett took the opportunity to ride past Lewis and forge a good gap that remained to the finish.
Edinburgh’s Sean Flynn also had a good race and strong finish, following Lewis up the final stretch of tarmac to take 4th place.
Lewis was thrilled with this result, his first podium at National level and building on his victory in the Northern Champs last weekend. Hi is now looking to build further towards the National Championships on Shrewsbury on the 9th January.