The hotly contested Cyclocross National Champs were held at the weekend, featuring riders of all ages battling it out against the elements.
They say Cyclocross is a winter sport, and during course practice on the Saturday afternoon you would have agreed with that, as a stiff cold southerly wind was blowing up the side of the panoramic Roy’s Hill Reserve and creating havoc with the marked out course tape.
Race day came with a clear blue Hawke’s Bay sky and a -3 degree overnight frost on the ground. Everyone was in for a exciting days racing. The course this year varied a lot from what most riders had ridden previously. It was designed to be a fast power rider’s course, with four short commanding hill climbs, a fast 4wd track section, and great spectator viewing and heckling areas. This was enhanced by the music pumping from the speakers and the smell of The Shot Coffee cart producing tasty beverages for the fans.
Cyclocross Hawke’s Bay again hosted the National champs this year, after hosting the New Zealand champs 2 years previous. With the number of cyclocross bikes and competitors continually growing down under, this challenging sport is the “new black” for winter sports. There was over 120 entries throughout the grades, which also featured two kids races and an All-comers event designed for the rider who wanted to challenge themselves on the gruelling course and see what all the fun of cross is about. Cyclocross is a family friendly event, with most clubs hosting kids grade up to the A grade Elite level.
Brendan Sharratt, displayed a powerful ride to claim the Open Men’s race, after being challenged early on by 2012 National Champion Gary Hall. Brendan got to work to establish a lead after the 4th lap that would not be compromised. Gary Hall fought valiantly to hold onto 2nd place, from the late charging and 2013 national champion Alex Revell AKA “De Snor” or The Moustache as his Belgium based fan club have proudly named him.
Sharratt’s average speed for the race was over 25kph, which proved the speed and strength of the worthy winner. Also included in the combined field were the Masters 1 men, with local Hawke’s Bay rider Steve Nicolls taking the win, despite suffering a late fall over the barrier section. This lead to Mike Greaves, pulling away from Nicolls with 3 laps to go, until he succumbed to the pressure of the course and Nicolls passing him again to ride away for the win. 3rd place was won by Taupo’s Alex Fierro. The Under 19 male were won by top junior mountain biker, Gareth Cannon, who used his off road skills and strength to take the national title. He was followed in by Ben Mcleod and Johnathan Barnes. The Under 23 men’s title was won by Hawke’s Bay local Mike Garrity in convincing circumstances.
The Open Womens' race was lead by former National Champ Kim Hurst, who challenged most of the Masters 2 and 3 men competing alongside her. Kim is no stranger to pain or mud, competing throughout the year at 24 hour MTB events, and used this as build up to her next challenge of the world 24 hour champs next month. In a hotly contested 2nd place Natalie Kirwan from Hawke’s Bay took the only sprint finish of the day from Paula Hasler who travelled up from Dunedin, after being together for most of the race. Kirwan is new to cyclocross competing in only her 3rd cyclocross event. Wellington rider Martine Barnes took out the under 19 women’s race with a strong performance, from local Kiri Gouldsbrough.
The Masters 2 and 3 fields produced the biggest fields of the day. And judging by the speed and calibre of the riders in the grades, the race would certainly produce creditable winner. With last year’s Masters winner, Dunedin’s Paul Gough in the field. This time round Gough had to settle for a solid 2nd, with strong road rider Rob Kilvington rising to the top to claim his 1st National Cyclocross title. 3rd place was taken by Shane Eagar. The Masters 2 raced in a combined staggered start field, with Cyclocross addict Ben Knight claiming his 1st National Cyclocross jersey. Jonty Ritchie and Bryce Lorcet rounded out the podium.
A Special thanks again to our supporters, Endura, The Hub Cycle Centre, Ramblers Cycling Club, Hawke’s Bay Mountain Bike Club, Specialized New Zealand, Bay Motorcycles and The Shot Coffee.
Cyclocross Hawke’s Bay will hold their final event of the season at Blackbarn Vineyards, on Sunday 31 August. More info at www.cxhawkesbay.com