Sunday, 8th March witnessed the final round of the Soggy Bottom XC Series and thus treated riders to a very wet and muddy course. After a few days of rain and a cold spell, the final race series started with the under 13s race. Problems for the young riders started straight from the off, with a pile up on the first corner, meaning that some of the potential hopefuls had a much harder task of moving up the leader board. Young riders Chuck Harmer, Malo Montepetit-Lebrun and Ethan Jones made effective use of the crash and managed to create a strong lead. All three riders rode very aggressively for the 20 minute race, managing to lap some of the younger riders. Eventually Malo was able to take the win, just ahead of Ethan (2nd) and Chuck (3rd). Fellow Taw Velo riders Ben Rowell (6th), Charlie Tompkins (7th) and Edward Armstrong (11th) could not regain the ground lost from the start. The under 13s team was able to secure 3 of the top 5 places in the overall series with Chuck 3rd, Ben 4th and Edward 5th. Charlie finished 8th in the overall race series.
The under 10s race was also dominated by Taw Velo youth riders. Louis Garnsworthy, who was also caught up in the fall at the first corner, was able to secure 3rd place in the Under 10s boys race, along with Fin Mead in 5th place. Overall standings, despite the wet weather, allowed Louis to remain at the top position in the series, with Fin coming in 3rd. Max Standen, who was away racing at the Manchester arena on the weekend, managed 9th overall in the series. The under 10s girls race was once again was won by Ellen Garnsworthy. After a tough battle with new rider Alisha Mccartney, Ellen was able to stay ahead of her and secure 1st place for the overall series win as well.
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The morning's rain meant that the youth race, which also included Elite, Expert, Juvenile and Sport categories, would test both endurance and skill of the riders. Approx. 90 riders set off from under starters orders, all heading for the first corner and a very tricky climb up a very slippery ascent. Luke Eggor and Matt Loake from Southfork Racing both managed an excellent start and were able to demonstrate their skill over some very tricky descents, which tested even the most experienced riders. Although there was no river crossings in the 2.7 mile course, the mud and standing water made sure that all riders were very wet and muddy throughout the race. The sport male category was won by Tom Holland from Westcoast MTB, Southfork riders who also finished the race included Ed Welsh (11th).
The youth race, which involved two and a half laps of the main circuit, also had a challenge for the title position. Gabriel Cox from Certini rode very strong during the race and was able to challenge some of the Elite male riders for the top placings. Overall series win was held by Gabriel, George Armstrong from Taw Velo was able to secure 3rd place on the day, which meant overall he would be 2nd in the series.
Next up was the large field consisting of Grand Vet, Vet and Fun categories. The course was now very slippy in places and the steep descents made harder with exposed tree roots, could only mean that falling off would become part of the course. Riders who managed to sprint into the first corner would be able to take advantage of having less traffic to get through and loss of traction due to volume of riders. Southfork Racing’s MTB team was able to secure a lead on the first lap and the possibility of an overall series win for the North Devon team. The terrain now very muddy, meant that the easier B-line routes were just as difficult as the harder A-line routes. Tired legs along with faces covered in mud made the whole race harder. The sun managed to shine in the afternoon, however this was too late and the whole course was one big muddy track, which sapped a riders energy very quickly. The fun race was won by Lee Mason with Taw Velo’s Nick Rowell managing 6th on the day. Southfork Racing’s Pete Dawe got 2nd place on the day, ensuring 1st place in the overall series with Nick Butler 4th (3rd overall) ad Sean Cannock 19th. Taw Velo rider Darren Armstrong secured his highest placing of the series so far with 12th place and Graham Garnsworthy also managed his highest placing coming in at 17th.
The next event for the North Devon riders will be round 1 of the British Cycling MTB Cross-Country Series in Nottingham on the 28th and 29th March before returning to the Newnham track on the 18th and 19th April for round 2.