2009 Final Blackweir Park, Cardiff
The 2009 Welsh League finished on a sunny but very cold note at Blackweir Park in Cardiff. Icy roads caused problems for some but the turn-out for the Maindy Flyers Christmas ‘Cross was excellent, with several members of the promoting club (including 4 Novice Women) adding their support and the event also attracting a few riders from over the border due to the cancellation of the West Midlands fixture. Eighty riders were in contention for an overall League position and most signed-on for the compulsory final round. The course was the reverse of the one used earlier in the season and, although frozen hard to start with, it softened as the day progressed.
With a 6 point lead at the top of the U12 League table Teifion Best of Abergavenny RC could afford to take things steadily rather than risk a crash on the icy course and was happy to let team-mates Nathan Ford and Ben Beckingsale battle it out in front. And what an exciting finale it was as Ben overhauled the race leader on the penultimate lap only for Nathan to regain the lead on the final lap and hold it to the finish. Teifion’s 4th place ensured he held on to the top spot overall with Ben 2nd and Jessica Roberts (Towy Riders) 3rd and 1st U12 Girl. Victories in the final two rounds of the series were not enough to lift Nathan from 4th place after a steadily improving season. In the absence of Elizabeth Bennett, it was a contest between Lowri Thomas (Abergavenny RC) and Bethan Manley (Maindy Flyers) for 2nd and 3rd place behind Jessica. Lowri had a 1 point advantage going into the final but Bethan was the stronger on the day and the two finished with equal points, giving Bethan 2nd place.
In the U10s Joe Beckingsale and Megan James (both Abergavenny RC) had it all to race for with just 1 point separating them at the top of the table, testament to the season-long tussle that the two have had. And they did not disappoint, as first Megan and then Joe took the lead. Joe looked to have it sewn up but a broken chain on the final lap dealt him a cruel blow and saw him running to the finish, to much applause but well down on Megan. Team-mates Huw Higgins-Worrall and Llewellyn Price continued their battle to the end too with Huw just getting the better of “Welly” and holding on to 3rd place.
And the Youth race was no less gripping with 1 point separating the 3 riders at the top of the table. William Worrall (Towy Riders) soon had his usual commanding lead but was not contesting the League – it was what was happening behind him that mattered. With Matthew Thompson making a slow start it was fellow Maindy Flyer Adam King and Geraint Manley (Cardiff JIF) leading the trio. Midway through the race Thompson overhauled Manley but King was holding on to his advantage. The final lap saw Manley move back in front of Thompson and hold his position to the line. King finished 2nd behind an imperious Worrall to take the U16 League title with Manley 2nd and Thompson 3rd. After an illness-affected early season 1st U16 Girl Elinor Barker (Cardiff Ajax) has finished in good form, crossing the line just behind Thompson, but unable to challenge Rebecca Hunt (Newport Velo) for the League title. Sam Beckingsale (Abergavenny RC) was 1st U14 Boy just ahead of League winner Ben Dunster (Brecon MTB) and Emily Haycox (Maindy Flyers) 1st U14 Girl, consolidating her League lead.
Welsh V40 Champion Phil Roach (Coventry RC) was a welcome visitor for the final Senior race of the season, lulling the regulars into a false sense of security for the first 2 laps as they managed to stay with him. However, gaps started to appear on the 3rd lap with only fellow Veteran Ian Jeremiah (Cardiff JIF) able to keep Roach in his sights – for the next 2 laps anyway. Roach’s lead steadily increased as the race progressed and he finished 2 minutes ahead of Jeremiah with another Veteran, Mark James (MI Racing), a further minute behind. With Senior Mark Davies (Cardiff JIF) finishing 4th, the top 3 League placings remained unchanged; Jeremiah took the V40 and Overall League titles and Davies the Senior title.
In his first ‘cross race after fracturing his pelvis in a nasty crash at Llandow in the summer Graham Edwards (Abergavenny RC) finished 11th with 1st Junior Luke Cornish (Towy Riders) 12th. Newport Velo’s Sam Anstice, however, comfortably took the Junior League title and Melanie Alexander (Cardiff JIF) the Women’s. A few riders came to grief on Blackweir’s notorious stones and roots – though bloodied, David Miles of Schmoos/Swansea CC kept going. But the unluckiest rider in the race (yet again) was Ross Porter of Cwmcarn Paragon. Ross looked set to comfortably take 3rd place overall in the V40s but two mechanicals forced him to pull out.
The League is very grateful to 2009 World Junior Track Champion (and ex-cross rider!) Becky James for presenting the League awards and to Chris Hearn, Technical Manager for Bohle UK, for very kindly providing Schwalbe tyres and tubes as prizes. Thanks also go to the event organizers and their helpers and to the event officials for all their efforts regardless of the weather and to all who supported the League in 2009.
Overall League: Ian Jeremiah
Seniors: 1 Mark Davies 2 Joe Lally 3 Mark Spratt
Veteran 40s: 1 Ian Jeremiah 2 Mark James 3 Andy Pearce
Veteran 50s: 1 Lynn Lines 2 Phil Harries 3 Tim Jones
Juniors: 1 Sam Anstice 2 Luke Cornish
Women: 1 Melanie Alexander 2 Serena Wood 3 Laura Williams
U16 Boys: 1 Adam King 2 Geraint Manley 3 Matthew Thompson
U16 Girls: 1 Rebecca Hunt 2 Elinor Barker
U14 Boys: 1 Ben Dunster 2 Rowan Miller
U14 Girls: 1 Emily Haycox 2 Ellie Coster
U12 Boys: 1 Teifion Best 2 Ben Beckingsale 3 Nathan Ford
U12 Girls: 1 Jessica Roberts 2 Bethan Manley 3 Lowri Thomas
U10 Boys: 1 Joe Beckingsale 2 Huw Higgins-Worrall 3 Llewellyn Price
U10 Girls: 1 Megan James 2 Ella Doheny
U8 Boys: 1 Rhys Thomas 2 Connor Lewis-Stanley 3 Aled Trott
Best Newcomer: Owain Roberts
Most Aggressive Rider: Rhys Barter
Most Improved Rider: Bryn Ruston