If Cadel Evans was a surprise winner of the World road championships, Nick Craig’s beating of Rob Jebb in the 47th running of the Three Peaks cyclo-cross race was an even bigger upset.
Seven-time winner Jebb was considered unbeatable by the assembled crowd in North Yorkshire, but new veteran Craig was having none of it and battled the reigning champion all the way in a gripping encounter. A mere fifteen seconds separated the top-two at the finish line after Craig finally pulled clear on the lower slopes of Pen-y-Ghent.
“We hit Pen-y-Ghent and it was really good, man on man,” said Craig afterwards. “We both dished it out to each other on the way up. He needed to drop me before the top, and I knew I had to minimise the gap.
“But I caught him just before Pen-y-Ghent Lane and saw my chance,” he added.
Craig is the first veteran in the long history of the Three Peaks to win the overall. His only previous victory in the event was way back in 1991, and he has finished second on numerous occasions since.
Jebb was descending gingerly having dislocated his shoulder at the previous weekend’s national Trophy round in Devon, but was magnanimous in defeat.
“No excuses. You start and that’s it. I couldn’t afford to come off, because my shoulder would come straight out,” he said.
“But it was a really good race and a good battle with Nick Craig. I couldn’t have lost to a better guy,” added Jebb.
Three Peaks Cyclo-cross 2009
1. Nick Craig (Scott UK) 2-54-13
2. Rob Jebb (Wheelbase) 2-54-28
3. Neal Crampton (Crosstrax) 3-09-47
4. Lewis Craven (Wheelbase) 3-10-31
5. Stuart Reid (Wheelbase) 3-14-02
6. Andy Peace (Crosstrax) 3-15-00
7. Ben Bardsley (Keswick Bikes) 3-15-58
8. Damian Smith (Wheelbase) 3-17-34
9. Dave Haygarth (Wheelbase) 3-18-19
10. Ian Taylor (Paul Milnes RT) 3-18-21
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Photos by Andy Jones
Nick Craig (left) and Rob Jebb duke it out
Neal Crampton came home in third
If the going gets tough, get off and walk