TalkingShop: Former ‘Cross Champ Jody Crawforth

In 2009, Jody Crawforth (Hargroves Cycles) proved to himself he could win Cyclo-Cross’s biggest crown in Britain, the national title. VeloUK talks to him ahead of this weekend

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Larry Hickmott writes … Winner of the title in 2009 and the National Trophy in 2010/11, Jody Crawforth (Hargroves Cycles)  knows what it takes to win the champion’s jersey and he’s ready to give it his all to try and win the title for a second time. The race for the championship will be on a completely different planet to the national trophy with so many riders coming into the race who haven’t competed in the National Trophy this season. That shows just how much the race means to riders such as Jody…

“It’s nice to win big races but there is only one race where you get the national champion’s jersey” he explained. “I have won the National Trophy series four times and I would probably swap all of them for another national championship win. It’s nice to win the national series but the championship is another level.”

When we say Jody Crawforth is flying, we really do mean it … here he is at Derby while David Fletcher decides to run the hurdles is a better option.

Through out the cyclo-cross season, Jody and defending champion Paul Oldham have been neck and neck but on Sunday, Jody will be up against riders he doesn’t get to race very often. Does that make the task in beating them more difficult I asked? “It does yes. I have raced against Paul (Oldham) and I know how he races where as I’ve only raced Liam (Killeen) once this year and Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles), I’ve not raced against him at all or Ian Bibby (Endura Racing).

“I can remember bits of how they race though. Paul just rides hard the whole race and has been going fantastic this year. Ian Bibby and Ian Field though seem to ride within themselves for a while before they put in a really hard attack which makes them difficult to race against as well.”

“I know, if I’m on top form though, I can deal with all of it.”

“Having won it before does give you confidence. Before I’d won it, I had been trying quite a few times and won medals and at the time, I was thinking ‘will I ever win it?’ But having won it once, it makes you realise you know you can do it and I just need to make sure I get it all out on the day.”

Spectators watching the race and I expect there will be plenty, will probably get to see Jody doing something that has spectators taking a deep breath as he flies though the air and photographers eagerly snapping away to get him airborne – bunny hopping the hurdles.

The picture says it all — this is how Jody looked winning the title in 2009 …

Jody says that races are perfect for practicing his skills but adds that he also practices on the cross bike as well outside of races. “The technical aspect of it isn’t so important in a fast race but if its like Bradford or a really technical course and really muddy, then the ‘cross skills become more important.”

Jody admits he hasn’t see the course for the championships but Ipswich is usually quite tough. “It’s normally very up and down and will be tough if its muddy. I think the weather forecast is for it not to be frozen so I think we’ll see a group of four of five at the head of the race on the day.”

“The start will be important as you want to be part of the lead group. Then you have to pace yourself whether that’s to help you open up a gap or stay with the lead group. You have to play it cool because we all know what’s going to happen on the next hill and so on when some one will attack. The pace will depend on the conditions though.”

“If it’s fast and dry, then you can have a breather but if its muddy, then it’s a full on hour of effort. It will also depend on how the others race. If someone starts really fast and gets a thirty second gap then everyone will be chasing as hard as they can and it could be every man for himself.”

Jody will have two ‘cross bikes from Specialized which will be well serviced beforehand to ensure that everything is running perfectly and that will just leave the choice of tyres and tyre pressure to make on the day. The choice of tyres will be made first and then after the practice laps, he’ll decide on tyre pressures.

Lady luck or should that be ‘lady muck’ plays a part in a  riders chance of winning — Paul Oldham here is running not because of the mud but because of a rear mech ripped off due to the clogging of the mud. Jody meanwhile passes Paul on YouTube hill….

“Tyre choice and tyre pressure are critical but I’ll only decide that after the practice laps before the race. If its muddy, the pressure will be lower.” Also critical will be the help he gets from his Hargroves Cycles pit crew.

“Before the race, they’ll know what tyres I’m going to be on and the pressures and that sort of thing so if I puncture or need a wheel change, they’ll know what I need. I might though say to them that I want to change to different tyres during the race and they’ll change them over ready for a bike change.”

Looking at the forecast, the weather should be dry in the days leading up to the race and so while it may not be as muddy it was at Bradford, that could change very quickly if the rain does come and after two days of racing on the course, it will certainly be well worn and rutted.

Our thanks to Jody for his time and good luck to him for the race … it will surely be one of the most hard fought races all season … who will win? Watch this space on VeloUK!

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