DIRTY WEATHER FOR DIRTY RIDERS
Heavy rain and cold, this is what CX is about. Challenging courses and tough conditions. The soft ground was getting softer every minute, so we got everyone to the start line at the foot of the gravel climb.
40 men and 8 women lined up and stripped off the jackets at the last moment, trying to keep their body temperature up as I counted down the start. It was a staggered start with the men setting off 2 minutes before the women to keep the races separated for a while. The gun was fired and the men rushed up the climb towards the shipping container tunnels before entering the main course at the back end of the lap. The women lined up at the foot of the starting climb and after a short wait they were also off up the hill and underway.
Jon Dennis (Kibosh Racing) was the first man across the line to complete a lap, closely followed by Dimitri Demishev (NLTCBMBC) for the first lap prime. Some more of the men's field passed the finish line before Louise Heywood-Mahé (Les Filles RT) took the women's first lap prime. Louise, and a few of the other women had already passed some of the back markers from the men's race despite an enforced 2 minute deficit. We had some seriously strong riders out on course.
In the women's race Louise Heywood-Mahé was proving just as dominant as she finished a lap clear of any of her competitors. Charlotte Heywood-Mahé (Les Filles RT) and Olivia Campbell (Scarpa Racing) were battling for the next two podium places with Eeva Sarlin (Velociposse) and Katherine Moore (Das Rad Klub) another lap back in fourth and fifth.
There were a mix of expressions on peoples faces as I announced the last lap to everyone crossing the line. From the "Thank god this is almost over!" grimace to the "What?! There's still another lap to go?" stare into the abyss. Each rider had battled freezing and wet conditions and the ground was looking very chewed up around the course. It really was a battle of attrition and everyone had fought hard to complete the race.
Jon took the chequered flag by a comfortable distance, before Adam Parkes came in second and Sam Andrews took third on the lead lap. Louise came in a lap ahead of Charlotte and Olivia, which meant a repeat of the winners from ThunderCross 1 last year.