It's the end of the national race season here in the UK, and what better to top off what has been a spectacular season for the Shimano British Downhill Series, than a visit to one of the UK's premier bike parks - Bike Park Wales
- for the last race of 2014. Once known as Gethin Woods, the hillside used to host the Dragon Downhill races, but with major investment by the Welsh Government and European Union, an MTB friendly trail centre has been built, which has transformed the venue into one of the major trail centres in the UK, with a fully kitted out cafe and shop (although sadly no wifi). Last weekend saw the likes of UCI World Champion Manon Carpenter and her fellow World Cup circuit compatriots such as Taylor Vernon and Joe Smith, turn up to race against a highly respected national field of British riders. Being the series final, it was the last opportunity for points-hungry riders to make it count and try to move up the rankings, overtaking those unable to attend, including Josh Bryceland (for obvious reasons), Gee Atherton, Danny Hart and Rachel Atherton. For some riders, it was the icing on the cake of their international racing calendar, for others, the end of their first ever national series, and for some it was their first ever national-level race full-stop.
|The national series isn't our main focus but we've done them all this year and obviously every race you come to you want to try to win it. There's only Joe racing this afternoon because Sam's gone home to Australia and Mike hurt himself last week, but Joe qualified third this morning and hopefully he can get a win as that would be a great way to finish the season off. - Nigel Page, Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof|
With no rain overnight, the hard-packed race line in the open areas of the hillside remained the same - super fast. Meanwhile the sheltered roots and rock section in the pine forest had sucked in the moisture from the early morning cloud cover and was even more slippery than during the previous day's practice. After seeing the riders getting creative with their race lines during practice, for safety reasons, the race organisers had to make some minor changes to the course, but this was soon out of people's minds and everyone soon had their race head back on, and set about making it to the top of the hill to be called to take their seeding run.
- Seeding -
In Juvenile Men, Kade Edwards continued his domination and secured fastest time in both sectors above Luke Birkett and Adam Beaty who were placed second and third. In Youth Men, Charlie Hatton was fastest overall but only 23rd fastest in the speed trap, meanwhile James Purvis who was second fastest on his seeding run, was followed by Matthew Walker. Notably, Joe Parfitt was fastest through the speed trap but only secured 13th place in seeding. For the Juniors, Taylor Vernon was quickest in both sectors but not as fast as Neil Stewart at the speed trap. Second place in seeding was Jacob Dickson, with Reece Wilson in third.
A new face in crowd was Zac Blackwell who having never raced a Shimano BDS before, managed to secure himself top spot in the Senior Men's seeding above Sam Robson and Lewis Summer in second and third. For the Master Men's category, James Risker, who dabbles in national races from time to time, managed to get the top spot in his seeding run, with Stuart Hughes in second and Andy Kipling hot on Risker's heals in third after managing to beat the leader's sector 2 time. In Vets, CRC/Nukeproof head honcho Nigel Page - taking some time out from taking it easy after injuring his shoulder earlier in the season - was in the top spot, ahead of Darren Howarth and Mark Weighton. In the Grand Vets, Jerry Twigg was fastest in both sectors and through the speed trap, beating Steve Felstead and Michael Giles. In the Women's category, Hazel Wakefield secured first place ahead of Rona Strivens and Becci Skelton and a wealth of other talented women riders who turned up to race alongside our newly crowned World Champions.
Looking to the expert categories, the Expert Women's field was led by Tahnée Seagrave who lit up the timing sheets, including being the fastest through the speed trap in her category. Hot in pursuit was Manon Carpenter, who was racing for the win and also the chance to win a national on her home track. In Expert Men, coming back from a fast and furious Worlds race in Meribel and hungry to cap off the season with a win, Matt Simmonds took the hot seat with a thundering run, taking fastest time in both sectors and beating Harry Heath, Joe Smith and Marc Beaumont. Also fresh from a successful Worlds was Harry Molloy, who managed to secure fifth place in his seeding run.
- Results -
With the relaxed atmosphere that is the Shimano British Downhill Series, and the rarely seen Welsh fair weather, riders were in good spirits come their race run. Some other categories saw familiar faces taking the top spot, including the likes of Kade Edwards in Juvenile Men's, James Purvis in Youth Men's, Andy Kipling in Masters, Nigel Page in Vets, Jerry Twigg in Grand Vets and Hazel Wakefield in Women's. Meanwhile, there were a few surprises in the mix, most notably Zac Blackwell, who had secured first in the Senior Men's seeding and eventually crossed the line in first place - not bad for a first time at a national series race. Another turnaround came in Expert Man, where eleventh placed seed, Craig Evans, managed to make up just under ten seconds in his race run, to cross the line in first place.
|I really enjoyed it. The track was fantastic, it was really fast - kinda one of them that you hang on for dear life - and I really loved it. I think Bike Park Wales has been great. I did the Welsh Champs here last year and it was really good then, and it's really nice to see a nationals here. The track didn't disappoint and it was really nice when I was in the uplift, hearing people saying that it was such a good course. They've been working hard to bring this to everyone so I think it's great. - Hazel Wakefield, Howies|
|I kinda got a little bit hung up in the woods but just ended up getting it together. I heard the commentator as I came into the rock garden saying that I had gone into the lead, so I just said to myself 'get your head down and pedal!' - Zac Blackwell, Specialized|
- Junior Men Results -
Being the fastest through the speed trap in seeding, Neil Stewart took the hot seat after his race run and then waited for his competitors to challenge his time of 2:41.308. Having had a successful national series for 2014, third place seed Reece Wilson crossed the line in third spot and despite having a successful seeding run, Jacob Dickson had trouble in his race run, eventually crossing the line in fifth. Neil was still sitting pretty comfortably in the hot seat until Taylor hit the track, and as he weaved his way drown the hillside, he started posting green sectors, eventually crossing the finish line with a time of 2:37.767, and so taking the win.
|It was pretty tight racing, and it has been like that all year, but I managed to pull it off [today] by three seconds, so I was really happy with the result. The plan at the start of the year was to start off easy and build up through the year and today I built it up a bit more. I'll keep building now throughout next year and I'm really looking forward to being in the Elites category next year. I'll be able to follow Gee down more and he'll be hopefully getting me up to speed, so I'm really looking forward to it. - Taylor Vernon, GT Factory Racing|
|It's the last race of the season so everyone's just winding down and having a good time. It's a great way to finish the year. - Neil Stewart, FMD Racing|
- Elite Women Results -
As the riders dropped into the finish line, everyone seemed to the following their seeding run positions, but the tension started to build as the World Cup riders came down. Katy Curd used her 4X experience to her advantage in the open clear-cut sections of the track, speeding over the jumps and drops. Following Katy was Manon, who was keen to shave a few seconds off from her seeding run to push her time under Tahnée Seagrave's and break the 2:57 barrier. Manon managed to drop into the finish line with an impressive 2:53.558 and took to the hot seat in anticipation of Tahnée popping round the final corner and down to the finish line. With Tobi Parodi - the voice of BDS - updating the crowd as Tahnée flew through the sectors, it was clear that Tahnée was down on Manon's sector 1 time, with a fair bit to make up. Could she turn it around in sector 2? As Tahnée dropped the final chute to cross the finish line, it couldn't have been closer! Tahnée managed to pull time back in sector 2, beating Manon by a few tenths and in so doing, taking her maiden national-series victory.
|I don't even know what my time was, all I know is that I was point-one in front. Today's race was my last race of the season and to jump in from the Worlds coming here and taking the win is a big sign for next year. - Tahnee Seagrave, FMD Racing|
|It was such a close race and I struggled to get my head into gear a little bit I think. It was great to ride against Tahnee and with the times being so tight, I think it's a sign of things to come next year in the girl's category. - Manon Carpenter, Madison Saracen Factory Team|
- Elite Men Results -
Qualifying in seventh place, Welsh rider Emir Davis stormed down the track with an impressive time of 2:35.097, meaning he occupied the hot seat for a while. A few riders later, Marc Beaumont, eyeing up the points for the overall series win, set about his race run like a man possessed and managed to make up two seconds compared to his seeding run, shifting Emir and others one place down in the process. Then it was Joe Smith's turn. Joe was as keen as everyone else to grab the win to end the season with, and although fairly steady in sector 1, he managed to find fast lines through the technical sections in the second sector, eventually crossing the line in top spot, with a time of 2:33.479. With only two riders to go, could Matt Simmonds or Harry Heath edge Joe out into second or third spot? For Harry, things didn't go as planned and despite being second fastest through the speed trap, he didn't have good sectors and finished behind Marc with Matt Simmonds still to set off. Matt blasted through the jumps, drops and railed the corners and was up on Joe's time in sector 1 and fastest through the speed trap. But it wasn't to be for Matt in the last sector, succumbing to a mechanical although soldiering on. Precious fractions were lost, although Matt still crossed the line in third place, 1.134 seconds back from Joe.
|I've wanted to win [a national] for the last three or four years and I've been close quite a few times but just little things have held me back those few times. I was feeling all right and I was quite close in qualifying and come racing, I went all out and was pretty much as good a run today as I could have done. The track isn't the hardest track by any means, but because it's so fast and dry you have to give it one-hundred percent everywhere which in itself makes it hard. - Joe Smith, Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof|
|Yeh it was good. After qualifying first I went to finish it but had a bit of a technical issue down the bottom and lost my chain. With times being so close it was disappointing, but with the year I've had, I'm over the moon and looking forward to a few months off to build for next year. - Matt Simmonds, Madison Saracen Factory Team|
- Full Race Results -JUVENILE - Sponsored by DMR
1 // Kade EDWARDS // Atherton Academy // 2:59.465
2 // Luke BIRKETT // We Love Mountains DH Team // 2:59.747 (+0.282)
3 // Jake GASKELL // Team Skene // 3:01.741 (+2.276)
4 // Adam BEATY // Keswick Bikes // 3:01.780 (+2.315)
5 // Henry KERR // Stone Galore // 3:02.061 (+2.596)YOUTH - Sponsored by NS Bikes
1 // James PURVIS // Cyclefix / Sick Skills // 2:45.831
2 // Matthew WALKER // Madison Saracen Development Team // 2:46.552 (+0.721)
3 // Jack TENNYSON // Madison Saracen Development Team // 2:47.326 (+1.495)
4 // Mike HODGKINS // Gawton Gravity Hub // 2:50.411 (+4.580)
5 // Kyle HAVARD // Team Skene // 2:50.573 (+4.742)JUNIOR - Sponsored by Outdoor Tech
1 // Taylor VERNON // GT FACTORY RACING // 2:37.767
2 // Neil STEWART // FMD Racing // 2:41.308 (+3.541)
3 // Reece WILSON // 2:41.941 (+4.174)
4 // Shaun RICHARDS // 2:42.040 (+4.273)
5 // Jacob DICKSON // Orange Dirt World Team // 2:42.506 (+4.739)SENIOR - Sponsored by Spank
1 // Zac BLACKWELL // Specialized // 2:46.879
2 // Sam ROBSON // Decade Europe/MIJ Downhill Events // 2:47.800 (+0.921)
3 // Lewis SUMMERS // Perth City Cycles // 2:48.382 (+1.503)
4 // Ryan MARTIN // Descend Hamsterley // 2:49.057 (+2.178 )
5 // Stephen MILLYARD // Millyard Concepts // 2:49.668 (+2.789)EXPERT - Sponsored by X-Fusion
1 // Craig EVANS // 2:42.988
2 // Mitch INGLEY // Brian Rourke Cycles/Knox Armour // 2:43.626 (+0.638 )
3 // Ben LOVELL // MTB North Wales // 2:45.160 (+2.172)
4 // Elliot MACHIN // Brian Rourke Cycles // 2:45.266 (+2.278 )
5 // Thomas OWENS // CTS/Team Skene // 2:45.267 (+2.279)ELITE MEN - Sponsored by Schwalbe
1 // Joe SMITH // Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof // 2:33.479
2 // Marc BEAUMONT // GT FACTORY RACING // 2:34.357 (+0.878 )
3 // Matt SIMMONDS // Madison Saracen Factory Team // 2:34.613 (+1.134)
4 // Harry HEATH // Orange Dirt World Team // 2:35.063 (+1.584)
5 // Emyr DAVIES // J-Tech/Ride.io // 2:35.097 (+1.618 )MASTER - Sponsored by Marzocchi
1 // Andy KIPLING // We Love Mountains Racing Team // 2:46.425
2 // Ashley MULLANE // Mondraker UK // 2:46.947 (+0.522)
3 // James RISKER // 2:47.466 (+1.041)
4 // Kye FORTE // Red Bull/WideopenMag.co.uk // 2:49.415 (+2.990)
5 // Stuart HUGHES // Commencal/Decade // 2:49.953 (+3.528 )VETERAN - Sponsored by Dainese
1 // Nigel PAGE // Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof // 2:48.540
2 // Darren HOWARTH // Grizedale Mountain Bikes/SBT // 2:56.785 (+8.245)
3 // Mark WEIGHTMAN // 3:00.029 (+11.489)
4 // Ben GREENLAND // 3:03.340 (+14.800)
5 // John COBB // 3:06.699 (+18.159) GRAND VETERAN - Sponsored by Nuflex
1 // Jerry TWIGG // Cycleworld // 3:17.016
2 // Steve FELSTEAD // 3:20.184 (+3.168 )
3 // Michael GILES // 3:27.420 (+10.404)
4 // Dudley FORSYTH // The Management // 3:45.636 (+28.620)ELITE WOMEN - Sponsored by Schwalbe
1 // Tahnée SEAGRAVE // FMD Racing // 2:53.435
2 // Manon CARPENTER // Madison Saracen Factory Team // 2:53.558 (+0.123)
3 // Katy CURD // Rose Vaujany Gravity MTB Team // 2:58.518 (+5.083)
4 // Suzanne LACEY // Team Aston Hill // 3:13.030 (+19.595)
5 // Monet Rose ADAMS // Burgtec/Morewood // 3:14.547 (+21.112)WOMEN - Sponsored by Flare Clothing
1 // Hazel WAKEFIELD // Howies // 3:22.434
2 // Becci SKELTON // TRG // 3:27.653 (+5.219)
3 // Rona STRIVENS // Diva Descent // 3:30.063 (+7.629)
4 // Beverley BARNES // Muddy Bum Bikes // 3:31.769 (+9.335)
5 // Maya ATKINSON // Gawton Gravity Hub/Hammoon Cycles // 3:43.807 (+21.373)Bonus Prizes:
Ethic Watches Fastest Time of the Day: Joe Smith, Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof
Works Components Fastest Through the Speed Trap: Matt Simmonds, Madison Saracen Factory Team
Rose Bikes Biggest Winning Margin: Nigel Page, Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof
Note, the Rose Bikes Biggest Winning Margin prize applies to riders who are in a category of 10 or more riders.
- Series Final Results -
The 2014 Shimano British Dowhnill Series has seen some of the best racing and tightest results for years. With 489 registered riders throughout the season - including 32 women - racing across 11 categories, the battles have been extremely close, with all five of the UK's 2014 World Champions racing in multiple rounds. With a field comprised of riders aged in their teens to 50+, this year's Shimano BDS has been an unforgettable season, taking in some classic venues as well as some new favourites.
After a terrific season, GT Factory Racing's Marc Beaumont was crowned the Schwalbe Elite Men overall winner, followed by teammate Gee Atherton and Santa Cruz Syndicate rider Josh Bryceland in third place. In the Outdoor Tech Junior Men's category, Alpine Bikes/Unior Tools rider Reece Wilson managed to secure the overall lead with Taylor Vernon and Laurie Greenland taking second and third.
The Schwalbe Elite Women's category saw World Champ and Madison Saracen Factory Team rider Manon Carpenter taking the overall win ahead of FMD Racing's Tahnée Seagrave and Rose Vaujany rider, Katy Curd. Atherton Academy rider Kade Edwards took full points in both seeding and race runs in four of the five rounds, meaning he couldn't be beaten in the DMR Junvenile Men's category, with We Love Mountains rider Luke Birkett in second and Adam Beaty, riding for Keswick Bikes, in third. Kade also took the most point overall this season, which bodes well for him next season.
For the remaining category series final results, head over to Roots and Rain
From the Shimano BDS and Pinkbike Productions team, that's 2014 done. See you again in 2015!
Full race results are available via Roots and Rain
Photos: Chris Davison
and Grip Media
Video and editorial: geebeebee media
with special thanks to Sony Professional Europe
and Fox Head Europe