GB rider Jack Clarkson reports back from the European Cyclo-Cross Championships - Road Cycling UK

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GB rider Jack Clarkson reports back from the European Cyclo-Cross Championships

From left, Hugo Robinson, Alister Slater and Jack Clarkson at the recent Ipswich National Tropy

Junior rider Jack Clarkson reports back on his GB debut at the European Cyclo-Cross Championships in Frankfurt. In the women’s senior race, Helen Wyman claimed bronze behind Dutch riders Daphny van den Brand and Sanne van Paassen. 

The Build-Up

A team of nine riders headed out to Frankfurt, Germany, to take part in the 2010 European Cyclo-Cross Championships. The team comprised three senior women, Helen Wyman, Gabby Day and Nikki Harris and six junior men, Jack Clarkson, Alister Slater, Hugo Robinson, Luke Mellor, Taylor Johnstone and Joe Moses.

After the short flight and an early night on the Friday, the riders woke up fresh and ready for a packed weekend, each focussed on looking after themselves and getting ready to put in a maximum 40 minute effort on the Sunday. 

Saturday morning saw the juniors and Nikki popping out for a 45 minute road ride to spin their legs and have a look at preparations to the course, which were taking place throughout the day.

After lunch, the team rode round the course to get a feel for the conditions, dial in technical details like tyre pressures and to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the racing ahead. For the junior riders, the issuing of their GB kit on the Saturday evening was a wake-up call and brought home the reality of what they were about to face. A team meal on the evening left all the riders well prepared for Sunday.

Race day dawned and the team did one more lap on the morning to ensure they was happy with their bikes and selected tyre choices and pressures, before getting ready to warm up and head towards the start.

Jack’s Race Report

With the start imminent, we all knew we had to stay calm and give it all we had for the 40 minutes of the race. Hugo Robinson was the best gridded of all the Brits and he took full advantage, holding his position throughout the race, with Alistair Slater marking him closely in the opening laps.

Further back Taylor Johnstone and I were having a battle in the early laps, before I suffered a mechanical and had to make my way slowly to the pits. Meanwhile, Taylor pressed on. As I approached the pits, Luke Mellor and Joe Moses, who were taking turns and working together to try and catch the next group of riders, came past me. 

I changed bikes and got back into the race and even began to pick off riders again. I could see the rest of the Brits perhaps 200-300 yards in front of me and that gave me something to work for. After what seemed like a very long chase – though it could only have been minutes – I managed to get on to the back wheel of Joe before sprinting past to catch Luke.

I then tried to make my way towards the front of the group. Up ahead, with Hugo, Alistair and Taylor already finished, I found myself going into the last corner alongside Luke. Inevitably it came down to sprint for the line which I just managed to take with a final lunge for the line, with Joe coming in just behind us.

Hugo did a great ride, coming in under two minutes down on the winner in 26th place, not bad for a first year junior! Alistair was 29th, Taylor was 36th, just over half-a-minute up on my group. I was 40th, Luke was 41st and Joe was 44th.

All in all, it was a weekend of steep learning curves, pride at putting on my first GB kit and a little frustration at the mechanical. But for all the juniors, it was also an inspiration and very motivational. Finally, thanks must go to Phil Dixon and the rest of the support team and to Mark at Pedalsport for his help.

For full GB results from Frankfurt, head this way


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