Rob is TORQ's Performance Mountain Bike team's manager and chief. He's the brains and passion behind the team, organising their competition schedules and escorting them around Europe to race World Cup's.
Bronze, Silver and Gold
This weekend saw three superlative performances from TORQ riders at the biggest race of the year. To top it all, TORQ has a new National Champion…
Ant O'Boyle working hard!
It's amazing how the summer can pass when your life revolves around racing. The guys have had a hectic season already and now it was time for the National Championships in Pippingford, West Sussex. The Champs race is a one-off and the race winner gets to wear the National Jersey for a year and claims the coveted title of 'National Champion', the holy grail in national Maountain Bike racing.
Tim hot on Nick's wheel
I decided to ride the course on Saturday with my son Joe, to give my legs a spin. The start of the course began with a slog across a grass field, but it didn't take long before the fun factor kicked in with the first sweet piece of single track. The first thing I noticed was how bumpy it was and how I was having to pump my forks consistently before we joined the obligatory fire track sections. There were no long descents, but there were several 'leaps of faith' over very steep drops and some challenging power climbs with lots of off camber roots to liven the course up. The biggest climb was at the end of the lap - a long draggy grass climb to the start/finish. My impression was 'what a fun ride, but a truly challenging course for a race.' We enjoyed it so much, we went straight back and did a faster lap.
Lydia on her way to the National Champs jersey
First up was Lyida Gould and although she is the National Marathon Champ ans we believed she'd have the legs to do it, there is no such thing as a dead cert in XC racing. In her category she is World Class and we have lost count of how many National Jerseys she has won, so, it was no surprise to see her first into the feed station, not far behind the Masters - not bad, bearing in mind that Lydia is twenty years older than most of these girls. I went over to the top of the last climb to watch her claim her title and gave Emma Bradley (racing Masters, for TORQ Development) a good chivy as she came in to take the bronze.
Lydia, National Champion
The last race of the day was the Senior Men and Women in which we had Tim Dunford, Nick Collins and Anthony O'Boyle. Tim was plaqued with punctures and retired, Anthony finsished in 14th whilst Nick had his best ever champs finish in 11th. Also, we had the Espoir Men and Woman, including our own Ben Thomas and Sion O'Boyle, Ben had made it known in build up to the race that he wanted to be one of the contenders so it was no surprise to see him in the lead group. On the start of the third lap he was leading the race, Dave Fletcher's class was too much for Ben and he retook the lead. Ben fought hard and held onto the silver medal with a time that would have placed him in 5th position in the senior race. Sion, in his first year as an elite, had a credible 7th place finish.
Ben looking dodgy in baggy shorts, check out the other guys Ben!
Ben Thomas Race Report.
"The 4.6 mile course was hard work and a real power rider’s course. There was a large amount of singletrack which required constant concentration. It was also really bumpy on the hardtail bike. I was super confident going into the race and although I knew there was a clear favourite I planned to be in a position where I could grab first place should David Fletcher make a mistake.
Off the start I failed to get into the top 3 group of David Fletcher, Billy Joe Whenman and Seb Batchelor, this trio quickly created a gap over us chasers, I knew I had to react fast and therefore attacked on the first fireroad climb. By half way round the lap I was with the top 3, however just after I bridged the gap David Fletcher made his race winning move which I couldn’t follow. Seb had dropped off the back unable to handle the pace. Billy was suffering as well and unable to make any contribution to the pace, I steadily upped the speed until he couldn’t keep up any longer.
Ben, looking very determined.
On the 3rd lap David had some kind of mechanical allowing me to take the lead, I was unaware of this until he chased me down and then attacked away from me on the same climb he’d used to escape on lap 1. The race was really tough and on the 4th lap I was suffering, John Pybus got pretty close to me going onto the last lap but I quickly put the throttle down and edged out a more comfortable gap.
By the finish I was completely ruined and rolled across the finish line to take the silver medal behind Fletcher who took the gold, and Pybus who took the Bronze. 2nd place in the race is a satisfactory result, Fletcher was on superb form today and could have got a medal in the senior race. Looking at the lap times if I could have held on for another lap I could have taken a top 5 finish in the seniors. As well as collecting the silver medal the result comes with a nifty 60 UCI world ranking points which will hopefully fire me well up the world standings into the top 300."
Once again, we are extremely grateful to our Sponsors:
www.konaworld.com - Frames
www.sram.com - Groupsets, Suspension Forks and Brakes
www.met-helmets.com - Helmets
www.ritcheylogic.com - Handlebars, Stems and Seatposts
www.schwalbe.com - Tyres
www.exposurelights.com - Advanced Lighting
www.juicelubes.co.uk - Lubrication
www.lakecycling.com - Shoes
www.jagwireusa.com - Cables and Housing
www.crankbrothers.com - Pedals
www.bikeboxalan.co.uk - Bike Boxes
www.fizik.com - Saddles
www.superstarcomponents.com - Hubs and Headsets
www.alexrims.com - Rims
www.sapim.be - Spokes
www.maxgear.co.uk - Glasses, Compression, Tools
www.champ-sys.co.uk - Performance Cycle Clothing
www.joolzedymond.com - Photography
www.fibrax.com - Brake Hardware
www.sport-torque.com - Torque Wrenches
www.cycleops.com – Power Measurement, Turbo Training and Bike Racks
www.notubes.com - Tyre Sealant
www.portablepressurewashers.co.uk - Cordless Pressure Washing
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