Round 4 of the 2011 HALO BDS saw a field of over 300 competitors descending on Llangollen in North Wales.
Saturday was a grey and dreary day, with the track thick in wet, clingy mud. The uplift service was a slow process due to the narrow country lanes that the trailers had to negotiate to reach the summit, but most riders still managed a decent amount of practice runs.
Emma Wareham taking on the mud during Saturday practice
Sunday, and what a difference. Sunshine and heat! The hottest day of the year so far and the track was drying out fast.
Seeding saw on-form Danny Hart take the top spot, just less than two tenths of a second ahead of Brendan Fairclough. Fairclough was trying to make this 4 wins from 4 visits to Llangollen, but could he match the pace of the blistering Danny Hart, and just how much would the recent knee operation affect his ambitions of retaining the title of 'King of Llangollen'?
Long live the King?
A good showing for CRC saw Joe Smith and Matti Lehikoinen in 3rd and 4th spots respectively, with local hero Al Bond rounding up the top 5 for the Elite Men's seeding.
Madison Saracen's Manon Carpenter took the bragging rights for the Elite Women's seeding, with 4.5 seconds in hand over Transition's Emily Horridge. Can anybody stop this young woman from Wales?
Can anybody stop Manon Carpenter this year?
Manon went on to win the Elite Women section, posting a time just shy of 4 seconds faster than second placed Emily Horridge. Katy Curd of Rose Bikes took third, with Jess Stone and Emma Wareham rounding off the podium.
A solid run from Emily Horridge wasn't enough to secure 1st place from Manon
Katy Curd just missed out on 2nd place
Elite Men's race runs came round and Steve Peat was looking fast, posting a first split time of over a second faster than anybody previously down the hill. That was all undone with an off in the very final section however, leaving the fan favourite with 17th place overall.
Next up was Sam Dale, who put in a very respectable time to take the Hot Seat. He didn't keep it for long though as Josh 'Ratboy' Bryceland, the next guy down, bettered the time set by the Sunn rider by 1.2 seconds, 2.5 seconds faster than Hart's seeding run! What, if anything, had Hart kept in reserve?
Al Bond, Matti Lehikoinen and Joe Smith were the next three down, and none could get within 1.5 seconds of Bryceland's time, would this be his first senior win?
A blistering time from Josh Bryceland on his race run
Brendog next, and the young Monster/Specialized rider was really looking to upset the party and claim his fourth win at this venue. However, he couldn't match Bryceland's run, and was over a second down by the first split. By the finishing line he had dropped a further 2 seconds on the Hot Seat time, and ended up finishing 7th for the day, not the weekend Brendan was hoping for.
That left it to Danny Hart, the on-form rider, and the favourite to take the win. The first split time came in, half a second in hand on Bryceland! Surely if he completed his run error free the win would be his. Hart certainly looked fast down the bottom part of the hill, and everybody waited eagerly for the time to flash up as he passed the finish...... just over 1.5 seconds down on Josh Bryceland! That second split time of Bryceland was just superb and gave him the overall win, the first of his senior career.
Danny Hart couldn't come up with the pace of Bryceland's second split and ended up in third place
Fastest through the speed trap was also Bryceland, and so he joins the small group of riders to win the £1000 Tag Heuer watch on offer for the fastest speed trap of each race this season.
What a weekend! The spectators turned up in force for race day, the weather was great, and the racing was just unbelievable. The win for Josh Bryceland leaves him top of the overall standings at this point in the season, with just Fort William to go.
National Champs are back at Llangollen at the end of July, which promises the fiercest racing of the season as the top guns battle it out for the title of National Champion.
Philip Atwill, Youth winner. A good day for Madison Saracen.
Josh Bryceland - Santa Cruz Syndicate
Sam Dale - Team Sunn Montgenevre
Danny Hart - Giant
Joe Smith - Chainreactioncycles.com
Matti Lehikoinen - Chainreactioncycles.comElite Women
Manon Carpenter - Madison Saracen
Emily Horridge - Transition Bikes
Katy Curd - Rose Bikes
Jess Stone - Gravity Girls Team/Trek
Emma Wareham - Leisure Lakes
For the full list of results see the results page at Roots and Rain