This past weekend saw the National Cyclocross Championships take place in Crawley in the South of England, a big trip for the majority of our northern based Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli cyclocross team but a journey that our team undertook full of hope and optimism for a successful weekend of racing across a wide range of age categories. We went into the weekend with big hopes for Rory McGuire who has taken the UK cyclocross season by storm with multiple podium places in the National Trophy Cyclocross Series Elite races, including a brilliant win at the Sunderland round. Returning from a racing stint in the Cyclocross heartland of Belgium Rory brought back with him some fantastic form and racing experience from the most demanding races in the world, however, sadly it was not to be. We got the call from Rory early on Saturday that he had in fact tested positive for COVID and was in isolation; this was a real blow to poor Rory, with really unfortunate timing to fall sick with the virus and was a big blow to the team’s remaining racers and support crew going into the first races of the weekend.
It was due to COVID last year that racing was cancelled and the 2021 National Championships failed to take place. This meant that our very own National Vet 40 racer Lewis Craven had held the title since he took it in the muddy conditions of Shrewsbury way back in January 2020 shortly before we all started to live with the global pandemic. With Lewis’ long reign coming to a close it was time for him to attempt to successfully defend the jersey in similar racing conditions; we all rubbed our hands together when we saw the course and the difficult muddy conditions which we all knew Lewis excels in. In a tight race from beginning to end, Lewis fought a valiant race-long battle with his usual rivals Paul Oldham and Adrian Lansley with Lansley coming out on top this year and Lewis taking a close 2nd place to take the Silver Medal; although disappointed with the outcome of the race Lewis can console himself with the thought that he’s still the Vet 40 World Champion after taking that win just a few weeks ago.
Dave Haygarth was spotted doing multiple rain dances in the run up to his Vet 50 race and Saturday morning certainly delivered, making this technically demanding course even more difficult to master and playing right into Dave’s hands as a racer who warmly welcomes the ‘tractor-pull’ conditions of deep mud and slick conditions. Using a mix of powerful pedalling on the straights, levitating over slippery off-camber sections and putting those long legs to good use over the numerous running sections and steps Dave raced strongly to take an excellent 10th place in his race.
Elsie Haygarth seems to have had the worse of the weather in nearly all of her races this season with rain and mud featuring heavily. Thankfully she has the same taste for mud as Dave and made short work of some of the most difficult parts of the Crawley race course. With a cool, calm attitude to her racing and a natural talent for bike handling even in those demanding conditions Elsie continued her successful season with a consistent race, placing 18th at the end of the race.
Fast-forward to Sunday and the weekend’s main event – the Elite National Cyclocross Championship and an opportunity for our remaining Senior and Under 23 riders to shine. With Rory McGuire sidelined due to COVID all eyes were on our remaining team riders to see who would be able to best handle those difficult racing conditions. In a similar way to Dave Haygarth in the Vet 50 race, Giles Drake was excited to see the difficult, super-slick, muddy racing conditions declaring that he’s been waiting for these sort of racing conditions all season long. With everything coming together at the right time Giles was able to back up his usual consistent run of results at the season-long National Trophy Series with a brilliant 13th place at Crawley Nationals. Remaining calm and focused throughout the race Giles was able to call on bags of racing experience and make small gains in sections of the course where he knew he could excel. Elsewhere in the race Lewis Craven was riding strongly following his Silver Medal result from the day before. Lewis is another rider who is well known for his immense skillset in the mud and put those skills to good use racing to a fine 15th position against riders who in some cases were more than 20 years younger than him!
Speaking of youth our final two Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli team racers really impressed too in this most highly-stacked, difficult Elite race of the year; both Adam Bent and Flynn Gregory have only recently progressed up from the junior ranks and are now showing their natural talent in the more frenetic racing of the senior elites. Adam and Flynn are tremendously focused in their training and have strong engines that are equally matched with Jedi-like bike handling skills and they were both able to take advantage of the day’s difficult conditions to take 20th and 32nd place respectively.
Congratulations to all of our Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli team riders and a MASSIVE thanks to Stu Reid, Tyla Loftus and everyone else involved in the support and logisitcs of the team who all contributed to the success of the team at this year’s National Cyclocross Championships. Next weekend sees the final round of the National Trophy Cyclocross series and we hope to see Rory McGuire back in time to race for 1st place overall in the series!…
Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli Race Results
Veteran Men MV40
2nd – Lewis Craven Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
Veteran Men MV50
10th – David Haygarth Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
Under 14 Girls
18th – Elsie Haygarth Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
Senior Elite Race
13th – Giles Drake Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
15th – Lewis Craven Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
20th – Adam Bent Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
32nd – Flynn Gregory Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
BIG thanks to Nick and his team from Man Down Media for capturing all of the action over the two days of racing and snapping all of our Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli team riders. Check out our photo extravaganza below!..
In a tight race Lewis just missed out on defending his National Vet 40 Champion’s jersey taking 2nd place and the silver medal.
Dave Haygarth was spotted doing a rain dance shortly before his race, the filthier the course, the happier Dave is.
With a mix of draggy pedalling sections and portions of the course that were faster on foot Haygarth was able to capitalise on the conditions.
A short set of steps favoured the ‘suit-casing’ carrying method rather than full-on shouldering – text book stuff from Dave Haygarth.
Resplendent in our fresh new Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli team kit Elsie Haygarth raced strongly in the U14 Girls category.
100% focused on her race Elsie remained composed throughout the attritional U14 Girls race.
The Elite National Cyclocross Championship race was the last competition of the weekend and saw our own Adam Bent take off with a fast start.
Giles Drake has had his usual consistent season racing in the National Trophy Series, but chose the National Champs to really shine.
Following his brilliant silver medal in the Vet 40 race Lewis Craven was back in action in the Elite race on the Sunday.
Flynn Gregory has really impressed this season, with his move up into the senior ranks almost looking easy.
Adam Bent’s strength and confidence racing in the mud shone through in the frenetic Elite race.
Giles Drake onboard his Cannondale SuperSix EVO CX wasn’t phased by that thick mud thanks to massive amounts of tyre clearance.
Giles admitted after the race that he’d been waiting all season for race conditions like this.
When race conditions are this difficult it’s important to remain calm and controlled; despite a few offs Adam was able to stay focused.
Lewis’ rainbow paintjob on his helmet reminds us that he’s the current World Vet 40 Champion.
A super-technical course full of tight turns, steep descents and off-camber stretches played to the strengths of our skillful Wheelbase Cyclocross team racers.
Flynn plunges down a steep descent while keeping control on one of the most demanding race courses of the season.
Giles brought his A-game to the Cyclocross National Championships finishing in a brilliant 13th place on the day.
Giles rode the awesome Cannondale SuperSix EVO CX to 13th place at the Cyclocross National Championships read our full review of the bike HERE.
Written by Johnny Dodgin
Photos by Man Down Media
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