Seven British National Champions were crowned at the Moorways Leisure Centre in Derby on Sunday as the two-day event kicked off in style, with overnight rain having turned the technical course into a mud-filled challenge.
The day opened with a spectacular duel in the veteran women's race. Tracey Fletcher (Team Empella) eventually edged out Claire Smith (Cotswold Veldrijden) by less than half a wheel to secure her first national title.
Twice Fletcher had made decisive moves and distanced her rival only for errors to allow Smith to come back to set up a tense finish. Commenting on her victory she said: "With two laps to go Smith caught me. I stayed with her and then in the pits I just decided to go for it. On the last lap I fell off and shipped my chain. She caught me again and it was just a sprint for the finish."
Nick Craig (Team Scott UK) was crowned 40-49 veteran men's champion. Riding the first of two races this weekend, Craig rode away from the rest of the field to secure the title. And behind him Ian Taylor led Jedi Cycle Sport team-mate home to round out the podium.
Craig said after his win: "It's a great course and I'm looking forward to riding tomorrow, but realistically Ian Field and Paul Oldham are going to be difficult to beat. I've just won the veterans' National Championships and I'm really chuffed."
The Men's over-50 veteran title was taken by Philip Roach (Team Jewson) who beat a strong field including Steven Davies (Hargroves Cycles) and newly-crowned world champion Dave McMullen (Cotswold Veldrijden) to secure the crown.
Roach pulled clear of the field on the opening lap to establish a lead which he would not relinquish and secure a deserved win following a season of injury and misfortune.
"I used the experience from last week's Worlds - which was on a really tough course - to know I had strength in the mud," said Roach. "I went hard from the start. If I was at the front I knew I'd have nobody in my way so I could ride where I wanted to ride. I even finished the last lap on a flat."
In the youth races Dan Tulett (Hargroves Cycles) was forced into an unfamiliar position having to fight from behind to take the under-16 title from early leader. Joshua Waters (Sherwood Pines Cycles).
Afterwards Tulett said: "It wasn't my usual race and I had to chase Josh back a few times. I felt that I could do it. I knew I had to be first into that technical section as I knew I was better there. It all seems to have worked out fine."
And the under-14 boys' race saw another great tussle as Euan Cameron (East Bradford CC) exchanged the lead with Lewis Askey (Lichfield City CC) and Alistair Leivers (Blackpool Youth Cycle Association) before finally making a decisive break on the last lap. "It's my first National Champs so I'm over the moon," he said.
Meanwhile both of the girls races saw solo victories.
In the under-14s' race the title went to a dominant Megan James (Abergavenny RC) who started from the front and rode away from the field title. Despite a slip on the final bend, James crossed the line with her arms aloft some three minutes ahead of a tired-looking Lucy Horrocks (Hope Factory Racing).
"I didn't know I could make such a gap," said James. "I knew if I was going to win I had to go hard from the start. It's my kind of course. It's technical and it's fast so it suited me well. You have to have a couple of crashes in cross, don't you?"
Charlotte Broughton (MG Decor) added to her National Trophy Series victory with another solo display in the under-16 girls' race. On the first lap she rode away from the field, forcing a gap which would only grow throughout the course of the race.
"I'm really happy I put all this effort in and got this result," she said afterwards. "The Championship is what everyone looks to because they want that stripey jumper."
Nick Craig wins veteran men's race
Tracy Fletcher tops veteran women's podium
British cyclo-cross national champs 2014 day one photo gallery
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