Killeen and Matthews take the win at the RRP Midlands XC season opener. Record numbers headed to Cannock Chase on Sunday for the first round of the 2011 RRP Midlands XC series. The support of the Forestry Commission and Chase Trails to see XC racing return to the forest paid off, with lots of tired but smiling faces at the end of each race. With some blisteringly fast lap times thanks to the dry conditions a quick lap of the award winning "Follow the Dog" and "The Monkey trail" was a popular choice for those with any energy left!
For many riders it was their first race and they were rewarded with a fast and flowing 6.2km course in mild, dry conditions; plus the chance to rub shoulders with some world class competitors! In the Elite men's race David Fletcher (Boardman Elite) and Dave Collins (Hope Factory Racing) could only match Liam Killeen's (Giant Factory Racing) pace for two laps before he began to pull away for the win, while some consistently strong riding from Jonathan Pugh (Clee Cycles KCNC) saw him just miss out on 3rd place in a sprint finish. With all the women's categories starting together, there was the opportunity for an Expert or Junior rider to take on the Elites, but Lilly Matthews (100% Me) quickly showed her class, leading from the front and stretching out a lead over the chasing pack with Mel Alexander (xcracer.com) finishing 2nd and Maxine Filby (Baines Racing / Silverstone Cycles) 3rd.
As well as the big number of riders in the senior categories making the most of the unseasonably early nice weather, there were a record number of under 12's taking part in the Short Track kid's races - a sure sign of the resurgent popularity of XC racing ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
Round 2 of the series heads to the private Birchall estate near Chesterfield on the 15th May for a cracking course stacked with steep climbs and fast descents. Online entry is available here and riders are reminded to keep their number board for the rest of the series.
Midlands XC would like to thank Nadine, John, Ann, Lynn, Andy, Matt, Harry, Ian, Craig, Rob, Gary and all the competitors for helping to make round 1 a great start to the year.
Photos courtesy of Roy Bevis. Video courtesy Team Boon.