New race venue Rutland Water hosts the penultimate round of the National Trophy cyclo-cross series this Sunday, December 14.
Organiser Colin Clews promises a challenging continental-style course with steps, dead turns, gravel beach and even a ?mini washboard? for the Rutland County International CiCLE Classic.
Men?s series leader Jody Crawforth faces national championship silver medallist Liam Killeen ? riding his first cross of the winter alongside fellow MTB?er Oli Beckingsale ? winner of last year?s series Paul Oldham and previous leader Ian Field in the biggest national trophy field of this season.
The Science in Sport trio of Ian Wilkinson, Ian Bibby and Dave Collins will also be in contention, while Rob Jebb should be thereabouts if the going is sticky.
Crawforth has not had ideal preparation following his last race in Koksidje. ?I had a bit of a banged up leg after the last World Cup race in Belgium. I crashed in practice and my leg was really hurting after that.?
The Arctic-Premier rider has yet to win a round of the series but will be keeping a close eye on his nearest rivals, as well as Killeen. ?He has been entered for the whole series I think but he hasn?t shown up yet,? said Crawforth, ?so it remains to be seen. He is a threat in any race. The people I have got to watch are Paul Oldham and Ian Field because they are so close in the series. I think whoever gets the top place out of the three of us will be the one who wears the yellow jersey.?
British champion Helen Wyman travels from her Belgian base to make a rare home appearance and starts as firm favourite in the women?s race. Swift Racing team-mate Gabby Day, currently lying second overall, also makes the long trip from the continent to face series leader Suzanne Clark of SiS and fast-improving youngsters Annie Last and Ruby Miller.
Racing starts with the youth race at 10.30 at Whitwell sailing club, with the final race of the day, the elite men, getting underway at 14.15.