Dan Bigham set a new course record on his way to victory, as Emily Meakin topped the women’s podium in the penultimate round of the Sigma Sport Classic Time Trial Series in Cumbria on Sunday.
No stranger to victory in the latter rounds of the series, Bigham (Ribble Pro Cycling) showcased his form once again in the circuit of Greystoke Forest, setting a new course record and clocking an impressive time of 1-00-11, nearly four and a half minutes quicker than the previous mark despite varying conditions.
“The rain was always going to be a factor – there were some sketchy moments and I nearly crashed a few times on the technical sections. I had to be switched on with conditions changing quick but I just stuck to my plan and pushed in the right places,” said Bigham.
Bigham’s chances of overall series victory were a non-starter but he was determined to make a big statement to his rivals before his bid to retain the National Circuit Championship wins next month.
“I wanted to spend some more time on time trialling this year as it’s good preparation for road racing too, especially on sporting courses like this,” said Bigham.
“I always target the circuit champs and I’m hoping to make it three consecutive wins – beating Marcin [Bialoblocki] will be a tough one but it’s doable, so doing the prep is important,” he continued.
The 27-year-old finished 1-27 ahead of Ribble team-mate John Archibald in second for a comfortable victory.
Archibald, the reigning National 10-mile champion, clocked a time of 1-01-38 for second spot ahead of another talented rider in Chris Fennell (The Independent Pedaler), who finished third in 1-03-08.
Fennell’s team-mate Emily Meakin was a convincing winner in the women’s category with a time of 36-21 across the 14-mile distance.
Much like men’s winner Bigham, Meakin found the conditions a challenge.
“It was really tough – it’s a hard course anyway but the rain played a part late on to go with the headwinds early on. I’m just pleased to come away with the win going into the next few months,” said Meakin.
Meakin started her weekend off by setting a new course record in Levens in Saturday’s Lancashire RC 10 and maintained that form heading into the bank holiday with a win on roads she admitted aren’t best suited to her.
“I’ll be focusing on the national time trial titles and the national road racing series with the team and with courses like this, it’s good prep but this series as a whole wasn’t a target for me as these courses aren’t really suited to me – I’m more of a power rider. They suit Joscelin (Lowden) better but she was injured unfortunately,” said Meakin.
Meakin’s team-mate Lowden was in prime position to mount a challenge for the series but had to withdraw due to injury.
Christina Wiejak (Team Jadan-Weldtite) crossed the line to find herself in second place in 37-20 but Fiona Burnie (GS Metro) made the biggest move of the series as she finished third with a time of 37-55.
Burnie’s third place lifts her into first position on 227 points ahead of Jennifer Smart (Team Velovelocity) with one round remaining. The reigning national hill-climb champion tops the standings going into the final round, but much depends on how other riders fare – most notably round one winner Kelly Murphy.
In the men’s overall standings, it will go down to the last event of the season with Adam Wild (GS Metro) and Phil Williams (Liverpool Phoenix) tussling for the crown. Wild failed to finish today but Williams could only muster a fourth place leaving him three points behind Wild.
Albeit an unlikely prospect, a win for Williams in the final round - which doubles as the National Circuit Championship - would leave Williams as joint leader at the end of the series.
In the veterans’ categories, Craig Horseman (Beacon Wheelers) was victorious in 33-44, beating Ben Lane (GS Metro) although Lane still looks favourite for the title.
Chris Mann (Velotik Racing Team) topped the junior timesheets with 33-56 ahead of overall leader Fabien Large (Nopinz) and Arthur Boulton (Vision Innovative Leisure RT).
The latter pair will take the series to the wire – Large simply needs to better Boulton whereas Boulton needs to finish ahead of Large and with a placing of third or higher.
Nicholas Fairfield (City RC) wrapped up the paracyclists category with yet another victory. His amended time of 37-21 meant his lead on the standings is unassailable.
* All reports are copyright of Cycling Time Trials/Snowdon Sports. Not to be used without permission. This report by Jack Cudworth.