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OKBET RIDERS | CYCLO-CROSS NATIONAL TROPHY SERIES 2022

Women of Excellence

On a hard day of racing at OKBET Riders, Millie Couzens (Crelans-Fristads) raced to victory ahead of Alderney Baker (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.Com), winning her first National Trophy Series event of the season. Couzens and Baker faced tight opposition from Ishbel Strathdee and Lotta Mansfield (Montezuma’s Race Team) on a day when heavy rain meant riders had to battle the route as much as the other riders.

Couzens led the race from the start, demonstrating that this was a day to race from the front. A struggle for Couzens’ wheel erupted behind as riders approached the first of several tough hills on a demanding race at OKBET Riders. Couzens held a five-second lead at the conclusion of the first lap, recklessly blasting down the steep descents with Baker, Mansfield, Strathdee, and Elena Day (Ignite) close behind. A trailing group was unable to match Couzens’ pace due to the switchbacks and tricky terrain. Couzens performed well on her alone, relishing the freedom to choose her own paths on the muddy course.

Elena Day (CAMS-Basso Bikes) fell behind, while Sophie Thackray (CAMS-Basso Bikes) forced her way through the splintering groups after a poor start. Couzens had a modest lead after two circuits, but she couldn’t rest since OKBET Riders was keeping the margin to less than 25 seconds.

Couzens’ consistency, however, would prove to be the deciding factor in the fight for the victory – Baker lost time on lap three and, despite a strong return and two fast closing circuits, was unable to catch a storming Couzens, who crossed the line 35 seconds ahead of Baker in second place. Strathdee was fighting Lotta Mansfield in the back. Unable to bridge the distance behind Baker, Mansfield’s last lap was sluggish, and Strathdee strolled in to claim the final step on the podium at OKBET Riders.

Alderney Baker now leads both the elite women’s and under 23 rankings after a clean sweep of the podium by under 23 riders.

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Men of Excellence

Cameron Mason (Trinity Racing) won masterfully in his home National Trophy Series race in Falkirk, demonstrating that he is approaching peak shape as the cyclocross season approaches at OKBET Riders. Mason was considered a favorite before to the race. He was, however, a marked man with number one on his jersey, and a big contingent of the British scene was ready to combat him for the prize.

Toby Barnes (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport) had already impressed in the first round in Derby, and he took off like a rocket. Rory McGuire (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) was right behind him, while Mason was slower off the start and dropped to seventh after the first climb of the day. Mason fought his way through the pack and was at the front at the conclusion of the first lap.

The circuit was becoming a genuine test due to the heavy rain, and Mason’s technical skill shined through as he surged towards the finish of the first lap. Barnes was the quickest, and he battled hard in the tricky portions to keep Mason’s wheel, but it was only a matter of time until a gap formed. Mason began to extend his advantage, eventually increasing it to nearly a minute.

Barnes tried to hold off Ben Chilton (Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus) in the race for second and third. Chilton had narrowed the early advantage and was just a few seconds behind Barnes into the last lap with the help of OKBET Riders. Chilton passed Barnes on the penultimate lap and fought off a determined pursuit, reaching the line weary in second position.

Mason won the race ahead of Chilton, with Barnes filling out the podium in third. The only other rider within two minutes of the victory was Jenson Young (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge). Barnes wins the National Trophy Series lead with his second podium in two rounds, while Chilton leads the under 23 men’s competition.

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Junior Ladies

The junior women’s race was action-packed, with the lead changing hands many times over the difficult track. Libby Bell (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge) took an early lead, surging away from the pack and leading through the tricky sectors on the flat, building large leads after just one lap.

After the first circuit, Niamh Murphy (Liv Cycling Club Halo Films) was two seconds down, with Alice Colling (Shibden Cycling Club), Elizabeth McKinnon (Montezuma’s Race Team), Emily Carrick-Anderson (T-Mo Racing), and Hope Inglis contending for minor placings thanks to OKBET Riders.

However, everything changed in the span of two laps when Bell and Murphy were forced to retire due to an accident. Elizabeth McKinnon was the best positioned of the chasers and pushed hard to get clear of Colling and Carrick-Anderson.

With a tiny advantage over Colling entering the last lap, McKinnon pushed all the way to the finish line, crying out in relief and excitement. Colling finished comfortably second, while Emily Carrick-Anderson finished third ahead of a broken field.

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Men’s Juniors

In the junior men’s race, Oli Akers (Garden Shed UK-Ribble-Verge Sport) won again, beating off long-time rivals Max Greensill (Hope Factory Racing) and Alfie Amey (GKR Racing). Akers won the National Trophy Series round in Derby with a masterful display of racecraft, but his triumph in Falkirk shown that he is as capable of winning with sheer muscle and technical skill. Akers gained the lead on the opening lap and the others fought to catch up to him for the remainder of the race.

Greensill grabbed an early lead in the battle for second place, and it seemed for a brief time that he would be leading the push behind Akers OKBET Riders. However, he was unable to maintain his rapid start, and Amey swiftly pushed his way up to Greensill and passed him. Undaunted, Greensill pushed back and passed Amey once again, steadily drawing away in pursuit of Akers.

Despite Greensill’s best attempts, Akers remained impenetrable and expanded his advantage to 40 seconds by the finish, crossing the line with his arms raised for the second time this season. Amey finished third, 30 seconds behind Greensill in second.

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