For the first time, Liam Killeen (Specialized) has won the right to wear the British National Cross Country Champion's jersey, following a thrilling race against outgoing champ Oli Beckingsale (Giant) at Crow Hill in the New Forest.
Even before the race started there was speculation about
Thankfully spectators were rewarded with the presence of the two best cross country racers in the
Five laps of a dusty, flat 8km loop mainly comprising singletrack and a few sharp climbs, meant there was little to separate the best on the initial circuit. By lap two though, only
The result was the scenario everyone expected – the best two riders battling for position. With nothing to separate them it looked like it would take a sprint finish, unforced error or mechanical failure to decide final positions and sadly it was the last of these possibilities that proved decisive. In the final stages of the penultimate lap Beckingsale punctured and had to change a wheel, losing the best part of a minute.
On such a fast course there was nowhere to make up time and it was the red jersey of
Meanwhile Jenny Copnall (Subaru Gary Fisher) retained the women’s title which she has now won no less than five times in a controlled race, leading from the front. Copnall made no secret this was the big one which had demanded her focus in 2008 and it was an emotional celebration as she crossed the line.