Shimano British Downhill Series: Round 5, Bike Park Wales - Race Report

Sep 16, 2014
by Fraktiv  
Views: 12,428    Faves: 42    Comments: 2

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.

Shimano British Downhill Series
bigquotesThe 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.

all photo belong to grip media

- 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.

Shimano British Downhill Series
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.

Shimano British Downhill Series
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.

Shimano British Downhill Series

- 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.
bigquotesI 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
Shimano British Downhill Series
bigquotesI 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.

All photos belong to Gripmedia amp British Downhill series
bigquotesIt 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
all photo belong to grip media
bigquotesIt'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.

All photos belong to Gripmedia amp British Downhill series
bigquotesI 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
Shimano British Downhill Series
bigquotesIt 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.

Shimano British Downhill Series
bigquotesI'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
Shimano British Downhill Series
bigquotesYeh 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/ // 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/ // 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.

All photos belong to Gripmedia amp British Downhill series

- 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!

Pinkbike Productions crew. Image Chris Davison

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.


  • 26 1
 £300 for National Champion seems a bit cheap! It's not like Schwalbe make budget tyres or anything... Good write up and great pics though!
  • 3 0
 that's the race win £££

not the title
  • 1 0
 Ah yes my bad, slightly better then!
  • 6 3
 Based on that gigantic wall of sponsors (and I'm assuming a sizeable entry fee) someone is pocketing a fair amount of cash.......and it obviously ain't the racers.
  • 18 1
 You need Medics at a £2k+ for the weekend, uplift transport for 300+ riders which will cost a few grand, insurance, venue hire, marshals, commassiares, it isn't cheap by any means. I don't think the BDS team will be making that much off this event put it that way. Not to mention he's kept the entry fees frozen for the past couple of years while everything else has sky rocketed in cost. The UCI regulate the prize money for a National round win which Simon Paton is following. No complaints from me, this isn't exactly a mainstream sport.... yet at least.
  • 5 0
 Thankyou Marshall8 for putting up those wise words, a lot of work has gone into this season's BDS and the funding is very limited. The appreciation that you and others have shown is what makes it all worthwhile and encourages more sponsors to get involved. Yes the prizes are quite poor, and I must point out that most of the sponsors are not providing cash prizes but vouchers, however prize money has never been the driving force in DH racing. Hopefully some of the ongoing talks will bring in greater revenue for next year which I promise you will be spent to provide you the audience and racers with an even greater experience. Personally I can't wait.
  • 9 0
 This is why Brit DH is so strong - great courses, motivated competitors and a great support structure. Oh, and shite weather to help you HTFU.
  • 4 0
 The last time I went to a DH event Rob Warner was racing. Anyway I had a great time spectating this weekend and riding the trails. Atmosphere was great. Took the family and really enjoyed it all. Spent my fair share in the cafe and soaked up the sun. Organisers is it not possible these days to have like wireless speakers further up the hill for live commentary. I felt I was missing out a bit on what categories were racing, splits and positions etc.? Shame that Athertons and Danny Hart weren't there to watch but well done all involved.
  • 4 0
 I'm part of one of the Australian local series committees and from my experience extra's like wireless speakers are simply too hard/difficult to source.

Most racers don't realize the tremendous amount of work that goes into an event. You can have between 10 to 20 members on the committee and each job can be 10 to 20 hours per week for half of the year (all for no pay).

Add to race day, having to source volunteers for driving or marshalling and you can see how the 'extras' take a back seat, and the priority is mainly to get the event through to the end of the weekend with no major hiccups.

There is also the problem that most clubs/committees are running the events at break even or losses. If we spend extra on wireless speakers it may mean we cant afford uplifts at the next race.

Anyway, not having a go at you as its a great idea - just thought I would give some insight into how difficult it is to organize a proper race series.
  • 2 0
 Thats a fair explanation, do appreciate how much must go into putting these things together.
  • 4 0
 Thanks to vinylmatt88 for coming along and I'm glad you had a great day, we are always looking to improve our infrastructure, currently we are lucky enough to have Monster Energy on board to provide the sound system. Unfortunately I wouldn't have a clue how to make wireless speakers work on a wooded hillside (we don't even have them at World Cup races with a much bigger budget) and the timing cables are enough of a phaff to put you off running another cable!
Hopefully next year we'll be able to produce programmes for spectators so they can have a better idea of start times etc during the day.

Thanks to Speedyjonzalas for the defence, however the BDS is run not by committee but by one full time worker, on part-timer (that's me), two chocolate teapots and the voluntary help of all the marshals, course maintenance and Mrs B.

In Britain we have probably the best national downhill series in the world with a fantastic roster of international riders from across the globe, I am truly grateful to everyone who helps out and to everyone who watches, rides, photographs and reports.
  • 1 0
 Colin, i feel guilty for even mentioning it. All good work by you and your team. It was all very impressive. A small programme yes would have been useful but not essential but I'm sure that could double up as marketing / sponsor material as well. Don't wish to start a debate on that though :-)
  • 2 0
 If someone can figure out how to live stream commentary to the internet (I know you're busy as it is, but you could even ask for a volunteer nerd to run it?) then spectators could tune in themselves on smartphones these days. At least they could at BPW, plenty of 3g coverage in Gethin I imagine.
  • 2 0
 Hey you guys. In Germany some races simply have a second commentator close to the middle of the track in a vital part with lots of space for spectators. They just tell you category info and the names of the rider and some funny side notes in-between. That always gets the crowd ver pumped. He doesn't even have the finishing times or sector times or something, but it is still nice to enjoy. Just mentioning that as a idea. Pretty stoked on the effort you guys put in! Cheers.
  • 7 0
 Yeah Nigel!!! What about a team manager race? Claudio?
  • 2 0
 What a LAD!!
  • 2 0
 He would have won by a big margin in elite women as well.
  • 3 0
 A team manager race would be great! A start list with Claudio Caluori, Eric Carter, Will Longden, Nigel Page and potentially Shaun Palmer as of next season would be a great race to watch and I'd definitely enjoy seeing what these previous WC riders could do on today's bike tech.
  • 2 0
 + Fabien Cousinié (polygon)
Here is the shopping list,699
  • 4 0
 Those are some well dressed racers right there. Have to say I really liked the way this vid was produced. No drama and all about the racing. Don't get me wrong, I like the drama sometimes but need a break every now and then.
  • 4 0
 The Shimano BDS is British Cyclings National (5 round) series. The National Championships is a one off race organised by somebody else.
  • 4 0
 What's with the freaky colors on these pictures? Too much Instagram or what? Love them anyways Smile
  • 4 0
 The video too. Dim and low saturation must be in style now. Maybe that makes up for all those years of high contrast and high saturation. Still... Awesome footage of what looks like the best national championship on the planet. Thanks for all the work putting it together! Also, the track is insane! No wonder britain is pumping out so much talent.
  • 3 0
 The BDS team has spent many a day at Llangollen over the years to design, build and maintain probably the sickest track in the UK.
  • 1 0
 Note about Bike Park Wales (not this event) - I just returned from a 2 week holiday where several of my friends made a stop at Bike Park Wales. The trails were fun, the uplift was great, but the bike center was run by a complete a$$hole. The uplift operator told us the park closed at 6, so when we returned our bikes at 5 we were surprised about the late fee. It wasn't the fee that was the problem, it was the way it was demanded from us. The same guy also yelled at a guy who brought his bike into the bike shop. I was baffled by the rudeness he displayed. Lastly, if you are renting from here, CHECK the stanchions and everything on the bike as they WILL charge you for someone else's nicks. My friends almost got trapped by this scheme. When I mentioned this to others when we visited North Wales, they said Bike Park Wales' bike centre has this reputation of finding ways to pull money out of you. This was a major downer given I had such a great day riding there.
  • 3 0
 Amazing to see the Junior riders (aka Taylor) just 4 seconds off the elite men's top spot.....strength in depth!
  • 3 0
 Much though I love a good tune it's refreshing to watch a riding video with no music for a change Smile
  • 4 0
 as always such an amazing write up and pics and vids were so good
  • 2 0
 probably lookin at future wc podiums straight outta the bds with you pinned brits
  • 3 0
 Love the video. Excellent.
  • 3 0
 I would love to attend and enter this event.
  • 1 1
 fuck that prize money, would better throw in a pair of free tires
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