by Dylan Kerfoot-Robson
This past weekend the team pointed the Vauxhall Vivaro team van west to Fforest Fields in Wales. With Ben opting to miss this race in favour of putting together a good training block and Mark absent from racing until June whilst he focuses on exams the pressure was all on Dylan to put together a good ride.
Dylan tells us how the race unfolded. “After the Welsh Champs last weekend I was feeling good ahead of the British XC Series round 3 yesterday, I knew I had good form and could get my best result of the season so far but its racing so anything could happen!
Fforest Fields is a regular venue for the Welsh series and champs, so I knew what to expect, a big hill or 2 and some steep descents. After Saturdays practice I felt good, strong on the climbs and confident on the descents. The course was almost identical to the course used for the Welsh champs the year before, when I raced to take the win in the junior category and was in 2nd place in the Elite field come the end of the my race.
Sunday came around quickly especially as it was an early morning with my brother racing in the 9am race, but thankfully we had the caravan which made things a lot easier. After the first race it was apparent this course could throw a spanner into the 'normal' results.
I had an okay gridding, 14th, so last choice on the 2nd row. The start was going to be crucial though as it was only about 100 metres until the first corner, a hairpin back left then not long after that we were into the bottom of the climb. I managed to nail the start and was riding around 5th or 6th wheel coming out of the hairpin and heading into the foot of the first climb. The pace was high but I was feeling good just holding the wheel and making sure not to give anyone behind me an inch. Half way up the first climb it opened up on to a fire road, I did get a little swamped here losing a few places but I kept my head knowing it was going to be a long race. The first descent made it apparent I had once again chosen the right bike, the team spec Scott Spark was so fast and smooth, I was able to just get that extra little bit of recovery before hitting the second big climb of the lap.
From this point on I kept picking off riders here and there over the first couple of laps until things started to settle down. I found myself in a group of 3 including Ian Field and Jason Bouttell fighting it out for 6th. We rode together for the next few laps trying to drop each other and catch 5th place rider Hugo Briatta who rides for Scott Bikes France.
We were still together at the start of the last lap and still catching 5th, but when Ian attacked on the climb I just had nothing left to respond with, Jason followed him for a little while until he too seemed to slowly slip off the wheel. From this point in it was a case of giving every last bit of energy Ihad left up the final climb to try and regain contact but it just wasn't quite enough. I when so deep up the final climb I was making silly little mistakes on the descent losing a further second here and there. At this point I was in 8th and just a few too many seconds off 7th to catch him but comfortably away from 9th.
I came home 8th Elite and 3rd U23, a result I could have only dreamed of at the start of the season. But the last few weeks things have just started to fall into place and I'm really starting to see and feel the benefits of a hard winter's training. I feel like I still have more to come though this season, and with all the big races still left in the calendar I can move forward now with morale on a high."
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2015 Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Cycling Team Rider Roster
Mark McGuire (Junior), Dylan Kerfoot-Robson (Under 23 Elite), Ben Thomas (Senior Elite).