Falmouth in Cornwall is one of Britain's most popular tourist destinations. Idyllic beaches, stunning views and beautiful weather. Beautiful weather unless the remnants of hurricane Bertha is incoming from the USA. Red weather warnings, talk of 60mph winds and heavy rain all weekend were in the forecast!
Most people arrived on Friday to get practice in ahead of the national championships which were held on Saturday night. The track was in perfect condition. If anything it was too dry, so maybe the rain would help. Will Evans' dream track is incredible, it' parts of his favourite tracks from around the world mixed together with his own vision and he has created a stunning track. Rocks, off cambers, split lines, pro line doubles, this place has it all and everyone was excited to get racing started.
Onto Saturday and the weather warnings still weren't having an effect. Blue skies and perfect riding conditions for the riders as practice got underway at 13.00. Two hours for everyone to get the track dialed. You could tell it was National Championships, as everyone was pushing hard, looking for those vital lines that could help them take home the title of 4X National Champion.
At 17.00 the senior riders lined up for their timed qualifying runs. Going in reverse order to their national ranking, the pace was going to get quicker as seeding progressed.
In the women's Cara Murray had an awesome lap to clock a time of 51.52. It looked solid with just two riders to go – Heather Kay and Liz Fowler. Kay clearly had a great run and stopped the clock at 51.4 just snatching the fastest time. Finally it was Liz Fowler. In the form of her career she nailed it and set the fastest time with 51.01.
Next up it was the men. Lewis Lacey set the early fastest time with a 41.24. Alex Metcalfe then put down one of his best ever 4X laps! A fantastic ride to go to joint top of the timing screen – equaling Lewis time with 41.24! It looked like these times might hold...Then the powerhouses lined up. Duncan Ferris went fastest, then Nathan Parsons. Leon Rosser showed all his cards with the first time in the 40 seconds with a 40.82. Last rider on course was Scott Beaumont. Could the defending champion go fastest? With a run that looked like he was on rails, Scott incredibly stopped the clock at 39.73 - the only rider to go sub 40 seconds.
At 19.00 the racing began. It was great to see such a huge crowd. Plenty of tourists and Falmouth locals were lining the track excited to watch 4X. One of the early riders to be knocked out of the race was track builder Will Evans. In a close finish with Luke Cryer, Will was out. Dave Richardson was also out in the quarter finals as was Davi Roberts and Joe Mallinson.
At the end of the quarter finals, do you remember those weather warnings... Well it began to rain and on the horizon it looked pretty angry!
Semi final time and it was down to the sharp end. With the rain now firmly taking hold the track was starting to change. In semi final 1, it was Scott Beaumont in gate 1, Duncan Ferris in 2, Alex Metcalfe in 3 and Luke Cryer in 4. The gate dropped and Beaumont took the lead. Ferris tucked in behind him and these two pulled away to book their places in the final.
Onto semi final 2. Leon Rosser took gate 1, Nathan Parsons in 2, Lewis Lacey in 3 and Jack Hudson in 4. The gate dropped and it was Nathan Parsons in the lead. Lewis Lacey was tucked into 2nd with Rosser looming in 3rd. Through the grass turns and Rosser made his move, carrying speed into the esses. Lacey went wide and Rosser jumped into 2nd. There was contact and in the blink of an eye Lacey went from 2nd to 4th. Parsons and Rosser crossed the line in 1st and 2nd and they were in the final. The Finals
Young Tyla Rosser is having as much impact in the sport of 4X as his dad Leon is having. This kid is going from strength to strength and in Falmouth, Tyla took his first ever National Championship title. Ashley England finished in 2nd with Rhys Mahon in 3rd and Callum Greenwood in 4th. The future looks bright with these rippers going faster and faster every week.
With the rain now torrential, the track was getting really slippery. In juveniles it was Fin Keogh who took the win in Juveniles ahead of Shane Davies, Callum Rhead and Alex Gray.
Onto the Youths. Could Dylan Grell Delsol defend the title. The gate dropped and Dylan was behind. Everyone was slipping and sliding, but through the pro line Dylan got the drive on Scott Dominguez and held on to the finish line to take the title. Dominguez was 2nd, Scott Burrows in 3rd and Charlie Currie in 4th.
The junior race was one of the highlights. Connor Hudson had it in the bag until he spun out on the grass turns. Joe Wallbridge then took the lead and didn’t look back. Reece Richards took 2nd and after another crash lower down, Connor was able to scramble across the finish line for 3rd.
In the Masters, Lee Ferry was in the lead, then Chris Smith nailed the pro line perfectly to take the lead. Across the line it was Smith, Ferry, Chris Cumming and Stephen Russell.
2014 has been Ben Rafferty’s year. Winning the nationals at most venues this year, he has sealed up a fantastic year by taking the win in vets at National Championships. In 2nd it was Phil Gray ahead of Jonathon Dominguez and Simon Rickett.
For the first time, there was a female youth category. With the rise in numbers of female racers in 2014, this category opened up for a new champion to be crowned. Tyde D’Souza and Megan Wherry battled bar to bar all the way but across the finish line it was Tyde ahead of Megan and Mabel Mundy.
This was one of the most unpredictable races of the day. The track was now very tough as the rain had made it incredibly tricky in some sections. Liz Fowler took gate 1, Heather Kay on 2, Cara Murray in 3 and Hannah Escott in 4. The gate dropped and it was bar to bar into turn 1 between Fowler and Murray. Fowler stood her ground and took the lead. Heading into the rhythm straight Fowler pulled a slight lead and Murray was under pressure from Kay. Into the esses and Murray dived inside but it was a move that was not going to work. Murray crashed out as Fowler increased her lead even further. Through the treacherous last turns Fowler kept it all together and took the win ahead of Kay, Escott and Murray. It was an amazing ride, leading from start to finish for Fowler to become the new National Champion.
So it was down to this. Beaumont took gate 1, Ferris in 2, Parsons in 3 and Rosser in 4. The 4 fastest riders were in the gate and the track was like an ice skating rink! Anything could happen. The gate dropped and Beaumont took the holeshot with Ferris in 2 and Parsons battling with Rosser. In turn 2 Boom Boom protected the inside and the others swung wide to carry speed. It was tight but in turn 3, the action started. Sliding around the turn Beaumont held on and set off down the pro line. Parsons and Rosser spun up and had to roll the through the pro line which left the battle for the lead.
Ferris was pushing hard and in the esses he made his move to the inside. At full speed Ferris ran out of grip and crashed out. It was spectacular but in an instant Ferris was back on his bike and still in 2nd. Beaumont kept his head through the last off cambers and crossed the finish line to retain the senior men's 4X National Championship. Ferris in 2nd, Parsons in 3rd with Rosser in 4th. It was an action packed race from start to finish which will now go into the history books.
The podiums took place in a barn close to the race site with a band, hog roast and bar seeing the night in style.
Congratulations to all the National Champions. On a night that had some tough conditions, they all showed what it takes to win the title.
For more information on the Schwalbe British 4X Series, please visit:www.british4x.comwww.facebook.com/british4xwww.twitter.com/british4x
Results British Cycling 4X Championships 2014 Men and Women
Results British Cycling 4X Championships 2014 Men and Women