CROSSBLOG: STU BOWERS
Mallory Park’s hosting of the third round of the National Cyclo-Cross Series turned into a ‘Scooby Doo' ending for Dave Collins… ”I would have won it too, if it wasn’t for you pesky foreigners!”
For me and the rest of the skinny stickmen, like series leader Paul Oldham, it was a day of near hypothermia and one to forget.
There were one or two war quips floating around the paddock before the off, with the Elite start containing riders from England, Poland and Germany, in conditions resembling the Battle of the Somme, only this time it looked more likely that the Germans would win, with Malte Urban having had consistent high finishes in World Cup races so far this season.
The pictures say it all really. With the temperature at only two degrees and relentless wind and rain it was never going to be much fun, unless you like that kind of thing. Personally, I love cross racing, usually the more treacherous the better, but even I was starting to question my sanity by the end of this one.
I can’t ever remember being so happy to hear the bell signalling that I had just one more lap to go. Needless to say, it’s not always like this, but you usually get at least one in a season. Last year it was the Nationals at Southampton that dished up a bog snorkel, so here’s hoping that we’ve had the worst for this year.
None of the day’s races escaped the cold and wet, and it was clear to see just how cold riders had become. Looking around there were still muddied faces everywhere, as those who had finished literally just put on every bit of warm clothing they had with them, without bothering to wash first, in a desperate attempt to stop shivering.
Paul Oldham, was so bad he was near delirious as he crossed the line, having to be helped back to his van and then spending 45 minutes sat in front of the Propex heater in Dave Collins' camper to thaw out. There is a little irony in the fact that Dave was helping him to recover, since it was he who had just robbed Paul of his leader's yellow jersey, and his yellow Oakley’s too.
Yes, cross has not escaped the Tour’s influence, and it is now customary to wear matching accessories to the yellow jersey. Oh well… Oldham’s yellow bar tape probably needed replacing after all that filth anyway.
Martin Nijland at the finish
Dave Collins' ride was perhaps the most outstanding of the day, mixing it at the front with the foreign contingent, and eventually grabbing third spot, effectively winning the race, if you discount Nijland and Urban ahead of him, who do not count for our National series points.
Hopefully, I will have managed to get my kit clean by the time the regional championships come along in a couple of weeks, before we all get together again in Bradford for the next round of the Trophy series. With no foreigners here it should be again just a battle of the Brits to see if Collins falls foul of the curse of the yellow jersey. Last time he wore it, at Ipswich a few years ago he got lapped!
Stu writes for CW's tech and fitness sections and has represented Great Britain at cyclo-cross and mountain bike
Click here to see Andy Jones' gallery of photos from Mallory Park