Beckingsale and Oldham fight for National Trophy title
The battle for the honours in the National Trophy Cyclo-Cross Series will go right down to the last race after Oli Beckingsale (Endura MTB) was best placed British finisher in round five at Shrewsbury on Sunday.
The 36-year-old from Bristol finished second to Belgian visitor Joeri Hofman, and gathered enough points to take a two-point lead over defending champion and former series leader Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing).
Oldham finished third at Shrewsbury, 36 seconds behind Beckingsale on a day where the long course was thick in mud which caused problems for many riders and kept pit crews busy.
The pits were located so that some riders could have a clean machine every half lap, and this undoubtedly helped the better supported riders battle the elements.
Oldham hit the front on the opening lap, but the Lancashire rider was never allowed too much daylight and was shadowed by a clutch of rivals.
By the time they had come through the woods for the first time, Hofman was on the front, but Beckingsale had also overtaken Oldham, and those two set to work in pulling away from their rivals.
Hofman managed to snap the elastic with ease, while Beckingsale took a little longer before achieving a reasonable gap and ploughing on in no man's land.
By the finish, Hofman had 2-03 over Beckingsale, while Oldham held on grimly for third spot, 36 seconds behind Beckingsale.
In the women's event, Louise Robinson made it five wins from five rounds of the National Trophy this year.
Once again, she beat Adela Carter (Hope Factory Racing) into second spot, this time the Isla Bikes 47-year-old having 31 seconds on her rival, while Scott-Contessa teenager Beth Crumpton took third, another 33 seconds back.
In other categories, overall series leader Darren Atkins (Jewson) notched up another win in the over-40s race, as did Steve Davies (South Fork Racing) in the over-50s category.
Elsewhere, while many regional leagues saw different winners because of the lure of the National Trophy, it was business as usual for Giles Drake in the North West League.
The Team Elite rider notched up his seventh win of the season in the league with victory at Waddow Hall in Lancashire.
Hackney GT rider Matt Webber notched up a win in the Central League event at Hillingdon, where he led from start to finish to beat veteran Sean Williams (Wightlink-Offshore) by more than a minute.
And at Central Park in Plymouth, Matt Noble (Plymouth CX) did just enough to win the South West title by two points.
He was fifth in the final race of the League, while victory on the day went to Matt Zeitz (Pearsons Cycles).
And in Norfolk, BUCS cyclo-cross champion Dave Nichols (Loughborough Students CC) won the latest round of the Eastern League at Ditchingham by just three seconds from his nearest rival, junior Sean Dunlea (Ciclos Uno).