2009 Round 9 Glanusk, Crickhowell
The penultimate round of the 2009 Welsh League series witnessed some of the closest racing of the season and many favourable comments about the course on the Glanusk Estate near Crickhowell in Powys. The venue nestles in the Usk Valley beneath the Black Mountains and its rolling parkland is ideal for ‘cross. The ground showed no evidence of the previous weeks of rain although the going did get tricky on the many tight turns.
The U12s course snaked in and around a stand of trees and finished in an uphill climb giving watching parents an excellent lap-long view of their offspring. Back racing again after missing the Welsh Championships with a sprained wrist, Teifion Best was soon to the fore, but ominously shadowed by Welsh U12 Champion Nathan Ford. Try as he may Best was unable to shake off Ford and the two were neck and neck as they reached the bottom of the climb to the finish. Ford powered up the climb to win by about two bike lengths from Best with Ben Beckingsale holding off James Tillett for 3rd place. Jessica Roberts had a steady race and comfortably won in the U12 Girls. 1st U10 Girl Megan James was suffering with a cold and was well off her usual pace, leaving Huw Higgins-Worrall to chase winner Joe Beckingsale.
In the absence of Towy Riders William Worrall, who was contesting the National Trophy at Bradford, and Owen James who was ill, the Youth race was wide open and points gained today could prove to be crucial. The quartet of Joe Anstice, Adam King, Geraint Manley and Matthew Thompson headed the field with Anstice at the front after the first lap. Up the slope and over the hurdle and King opened a gap on the others which may have shortened now and again but which he never relinquished. The order of the chasers changed as the race progressed but they were unable to catch King; Manley took 2nd and Thompson 3rd. Rebecca Hunt fought hard to stay with fellow U16 Girl Elinor Barker but finally had to concede defeat. Ben Dunster was 1st U14 Boy and Emily Haycox, another cold victim, held on to win in the U14 Girls.
As in the Youth race, points were being chased by the Seniors too. It was League leader Mark Davies who was out in front for the first half of the race with Mark James, Matthew Page and Mark Spratt keeping him in their sights; Spratt’s early pace was, however, soon thwarted by a puncture. James and Page continued their pursuit, frequently swapping places, and Davies’ lead began to look vulnerable. Behind them Sion O’Boyle was desperately trying to make contact. As the leaders came into view along the finishing straight at the end of lap 8 Page had overhauled Davies but the result was far from certain as the gap between the two yo-yoed over the remaining two laps. Spectators on the finish line peered through the trees to try and see whether it would be the orange Wiggle or the green JIF jersey dropping down to the road first. Page took the victory by 9 seconds from Davies with O’Boyle finally passing James to take 3rd, only a further 10 seconds back; James was 1st Veteran. 1st Junior Sam Anstice rode strongly to finish in the top 10 again and Laura Williams was 1st Woman.