In bright and sunny, but cold and windy conditions and after a significant amount of the rain, the 3rd round of the National Cyclocross Trophy turned into an exciting mud battle which was a significant contrast to the first two rounds which had been dry and therefore created fast conditions.
The start of the women’s race was aggressive and there was a casualty in the first 100m as a touch of wheels caused a rider to flip out of contention. The conditions made it tricky for the whole race as riders suffered crashes and mechanicals and bike changes were frequent.
Beth Crumpton looked resplendent in her yellow Le Col skinsuit, with her gleaming yellow Boardman CX9.4 shining in the sunlight. The biting wind had meant she’d chosen her KASK Infinity for maximum aero-dynamics, although the sluggish nature of the course with the mud meant there were few places for riders to pick up any speed.
Starting with the same speed and power which had seen her surge ahead and to victory in rounds 1 and 2, Crumpton again took the race by the scruff of the neck but couldn’t stay out of trouble for long. An early slide in the mud saw her lose a number of places and as the field came through the finish to start the first lap proper, she was back in around 11th place and caught up in traffic in the bottlenecks on the course.
Such were the conditions that it was necessary to change bikes every half lap and the pit crews for all riders were kept very busy making the bikes clean for the next switch. Having two spare Boardman CX9.4 bikes in the pits gave Beth the confidence of knowing a mechanical mishap to one bike wouldn’t leave her without a spare.
Beth worked hard to ensure her bike changes were efficient and picked off numerous riders on every lap, with a significant amount of running in every lap, the extra work she had put in to this was clearly showing too. The front of the race looked to have gone as Harriet Harnden, Ffion James [a 2018 Storey Racing recruit], Sophie Thackeray and Hannah Payton all surged on but Beth literally ran out of race to close the gap as she was moving up the field with each passage of the finish line. In the end it was a tight and exciting finish between Harnden and James, with the junior rider Harnden taking the win after James was unlucky to slip on an off camber running section. Although disappointed not to win it was a result Ffion was delighted with as she gets stronger with every round.
Reflecting on the race, Beth said afterwards, “After a bad first lap I tried to stay calm and focus on working my way back through the pack. The conditions were extremely tough and hard going. I had few crashes which kept putting me back, however I didn’t give up and am happy with my race to be able to finish 6th and keep hold of yellow.”
It hadn’t been the smoothest of build ups for Beth who was carrying the effects of the crash she had at Koksijde in a knee injury. These manifested themselves after her impressive victory in Abergavenny two weeks ago. A scan and advice via our HMT Hospitals Team Doctor has ensured a strategy is now in place and Beth is confident of her recovery for the upcoming events on the calendar, “The knock to my knee hasn’t been ideal but it can happen a lot in cross with the nature of crashes in tricky conditions. I’m grateful to HMT for their support in finding the cause of the problem and now know how to effectively manage the pain during the rehab process.”
Beth will now see the team’s lead sports massage expert, Caroline Boulton, of Holistic Life Sports Injury and Wellness Centre in Cheadle as part of the treatment to get her back to full fitness.
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