The 15th and final round of the cyclocross season was held once again at the Army Barracks at Tidworth at the end of January. Featuring a great course for spectators with most of the action visible from the higher ground on the undulating, hilly venue. The start was on playing fields, a long straight leading onto a short, sharp climb that headed into a twisting technical wooded section, zig-zagging round tight turns in the trees that had riders down to walking pace as they tip-toed round the slippery corners. Then a hard effort out round the edge of the fields before the return leg along a mud rutted track with a deep ditch at either end and a long drag up to the main hill. Finally, sweeping down a tarmac section to the bottom of the hill once more, leaving a long set of stone steps to run up before remounting and a final sprint to the line.

Frantic calculations were being made all round as riders looked to improve positions in the final league standings. Tom Budden was sitting in 4th position in the seniors, just three points off 3rd. Phil Connell and Jez Hart were also close together in the v40s in 21st and 25th place. So with everything still to play for, we lined up for one last battle.

Four Sotonia seniors raced (Tom Budden, Niels Langhout, Matteo Ichino and David Baxter) Tom got a good front row start and the top six riders were quickly away from the rest of the field. Sam Allen (Pedalon) led once again but the big surprise was 19 year old Paul Double of VC Venta in only his second ever cross race, slowly closing the gap to Allen. Behind, Tom swapped places with Ryan Smith (Moore Fitness) before finally getting the better of the two to finish in 4th. His closest opponent in the league, Joe Hickerton (Eden Veranda) was 6th, meaning Tom settled for 4th in the league by a margin of just one point! Still an incredible achievement and possibly the highest senior finish in club history. Matteo had a good race in 18th; David wasn’t so lucky, retiring with a bent rear mech in the sticky conditions.


The final V40 showdown

Preceding the seniors, Phil and Jez did their share in the V40s of churning up the grass as the morning drizzle stopped and the mud started to dry… meaning more likely to stick to the bikes.

Jez recalls his race:

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]The first corner is important in cross. Everyone wants to get through before traffic builds up and there’s a moment, a couple of seconds after the guys at the front brake hard from 20-25 mph when you wonder if today’s the day someone dive-bombs inside. Sure enough, while already rubbing shoulders with the guy next to me, I found someone trying to nestle into my armpit as brakes squealed to take that first corner. Luckily, he had second thoughts and everyone stayed upright. Things were a little less sketchy after that as Phil and I got down to the serious business of Cross Team Time Trial. As usual we swapped places several times in the first couple of laps, dodging a rider decking it on the second deep ditch. But by lap three, the tough hill was starting to force a gap and I pushed ahead. Phil wasn’t done though and he put in a hot pursuit on the flat and downhill sections, hampered at this point by half a field worth of mud on his bike. Into the last lap in a group of three, I hit the steps on the heels of a Zappis rider, at the top I was first back in the pedals and took the sprint for 22nd place. Phil was 26th about 30 seconds back. In the v50s, John Phillips enjoyed his race with good finish to the season in 25th.[/quote]

So that’s it for another year. Our best season yet with Tom and our senior ‘A’ team 3rd place in the rankings and 8th team in the V40s with just two riders for most of the season.

Thanks to Tobie Charlton for his heroics in the pits, John Phillips for supplying an almost endless supply of delicious sausage rolls and super fan, Dave Crocker for all his support! And above all, thanks to the 24 Sotonia cyclocross riders of all ages who helped make this season so great.

Final Wessex League tables are here


WessexCX_Tidworth_31.1.15_Baxter WessexCX_Tidworth_31.1.15_Budden WessexCX_Tidworth_31.1.15_Budden1 WessexCX_Tidworth_31.1.15_Matteo WessexCX_Tidworth_31.1.15_Niels