News: Bursary’s for CX Riders

Seven riders have been showing the rest of Europe the skills they learnt in their local league with the help of a bursary from the Lazer Shimano West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League

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News: Bursary’s for CX Riders

By Ben Goddard | Pictures: David Perry

Seven riders have been showing the rest of Europe the skills they learnt in their local league with the help of a bursary. Each year the Lazer Shimano West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League gives bursary payments to up and coming riders to help them towards their national and international ambitions.

This year, seven riders have received the bursary: Beth Crumpton, Daniel Barnes, Toby Barnes, Alderney Baker, Harriet Harnden, Melissa Baker and Simon Wyllie.

Beth Crumpton

After impressing on the continent last season Beth Crumpton was selected to ride for by Belgium team Tarteletto-Isorex. Crumpton also won the National Trophy Series overall last season and although this year’s campaign has seen her travel to race in Europe, she returned to win round four of the British series.

The 25-year-old started her love for cyclo-cross in the Lazer Shimano West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League 13 years ago and started her campaign this year with a win at the second round of the series in Redditch. The bursary helps Crumpton to travel between the UK and Belgium to showcase her talents against the world’s best.

“Since my first Cyclo-Cross World Cup experience in 2015 as a final year under-23, I always notice something different at every race. The atmosphere is party-like and the spectators are so enthusiastic in the crowds. The courses test technical ability and there is more off and on the bike than you get at UK courses.”

“I really enjoy racing in Europe because it pushes me to my limits, the racing is really close and competitive and the standard helps me achieve the best I can to improve.”

Crumpton has impressed this season in Belgium finishing ninth at Beringen Cross and 16th in Koppenbergcross. Speaking about her goals, Crumpton added: “Short term I want to be consistent in the top 20 at international races. Long term I want to achieve a Cyclo-Cross World Cup top 10, it’s ambitious as the standard in the women’s field is so good right now but with a bit more hard work and racing regularly in Europe I hope it is achievable.”

Melissa Baker

Melissa Baker has showed her form already in this year’s West Midlands series finishing consistently in the top-five with two podium places. A recent trip to Belgium saw the 20-year-old, from Wheaton Aston, compete in the Koppenberg Cross alongside her Team Empella Cyclo-Cross team-mates.

Starting off as a youth rider six years ago in the West Midlands series, Baker has progressed into the senior ranks and is now showing her talents on the international stage this season.

Baker said: “As it’s my first season racing abroad I hope to finish on the same lap as the leaders in all races and learn from the experience in order to apply what I’ve learnt to regional and national races. The courses are much more technical and varied and the atmosphere is completely different with thousands of spectators and cyclo-cross fanatics.”

Baker is targeting a top-five finish when the National Cyclo-Cross Championships returns to Shrewsbury in January.

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Alderney Baker

Focusing on the domestic season, Alderney Baker took a sixth-place finish in the latest round of the National Trophy Series in Pembrey Country Park. The 18-year-old, from Brackley, has been racing in the Lazer Shimano Cyclo-Cross League for two seasons using it to prepare for her national goals.

Baker used the bursary to compete in Koppenbergcross, where she finished 32nd in her first elite women’s international race. “I’ve found races abroad to be a lot faster and more aggressive from the start,” said Baker. “There’s always a rider or two around you to have a good battle with and the atmosphere is outstanding with so much support from the crowds.”

Baker will have her first crack at the under-23 National Championships in Shrewsbury later this season after finishing fifth as a junior last year. “With the aid of the bursary, I have already achieved one of my season’s goals while racing out in Belgium at the start of November and that was to finish an elite race on the lead lap,” said Baker.

“One of my short-term goals is to focus on the National championships in January with the aim of a top-10 result in the elite/under 23 women’s race. My longer-term ambitions as an under-23 are selection for Cyclo-Cross World Cups with some of my goals based around the national trophy series”.

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Harriet Harnden

After impressing in the West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League last year Harnden, finished her season with a 19th at the World Championships in the under-23 age category. The 19-year-old, from Malvern, has been competing again on the international stage this season taking ninth at the European Under-23 Championships and 29th in the elite women’s race at Koksijde last weekend. Harnden also won the second round of the National Trophy Series.

Toby Barnes

In just his second season as an under-23 rider, Toby Barnes is continuing to show his cyclo-cross ability alongside his university studies. The 18-year-old, from Lichfield, is currently leading the under-23 category and is third overall in the National Trophy Cyclo-Cross series after a series of consistent places so far this season.

Photo VeloUK

He finished in 13th place at last weekend’s fifth round of the National Trophy at Pembrey in Wales. When not at Loughborough University or riding national events, Barnes returns to the West Midlands league to compete, winning two rounds already this season.

Barnes is another product of the Lazer Shimano West Midlands League competing through the age groups from an under-12 category rider.
As a junior rider Barnes competed in the European Championships and World Cup round at Valkenburg. Barnes hopes to use the bursary grant from the West Midlands League to return to Belgium over the New Year period to compete a block of races.

He said: “I rode for GB as a junior in a World Cup and other races as a club member. The courses (in Europe) are very challenging and the competition is really strong in all races. This season, my goal is to win the under-23 National Trophy series and finish on the podium overall in the elite series.

“I also have support from Loughborough University as part of their Cycling Academy and will be doing track and road next year with the aim of preparing well for the next cross season.”

Daniel Barnes

Daniel Barnes has already tasted international action this season alongside regional and national success. The 16-year-old clinched victory in round four of the National Trophy along with three podium finishes in the previous rounds. After tasting international action last year Barnes, finished 27th in Sunday’s Cyclo-Cross World Cup in Koksijde.

Photo VeloUK

“I raced abroad with GB last year at some world cups and the European championships,” said Barnes. “Some of these courses were much tougher than lots of British courses, often muddier and more tough going terrain. I also did some other big races such as Koppenberg and Boom Superprestige which gave me some valuable experience for the World Cups”.

“This was all made possible by the support of the league bursary last season too, so thank you for this support again this season.” Barnes hopes to impress Great Britain selectors for the concluding Cyclo-Cross World Cup rounds and also the World Championships in February.

“This season my goals are to win the National Championships and National Trophy series overall,” said Barnes. “I also hope for World Championships selection in February. Long term, I want to see how far they can take me internationally with hopes of more Great Britain selection in the next few years at under-23 level.”

Simon Wyllie

After learning his trade in the Lazer Shimano West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League, junior rider Simon Wyllie is now testing himself against the best in the world. After winning the Under-16 National Championships, the youngster impressed last year in the junior category and was selected to ride the World Championships.

Wyllie started this season winning the second round of the West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League and has gone on two National Trophy podiums along with competing in the biggest international races.


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