REDDITCH’S British Cycling cross country mountain biking sensation Bethany Crumpton started her 2014 campaign recently in promising fashion.
With this being a Commonwealth Games year, she was keen to put her name to the fore to gain selection for the England team and, with all the other riders from Scotland and Wales fighting for their selection, competition is fierce.
The first round in Essex saw current U23 cross country British champion Crumpton come up against some European as well as domestic opposition and she was to find the pace quick from the start, taking the lead and taking the race by the scruff of the neck.
As the race progressed she began to move off the front in a group of three riders but, with early season form unknown, she dropped off the pace before regaining places towards the end of the race.
Crumpton was closing in on third place but any ideas of making the podium were quashed by an untimely puncture which dropped her down to an eventual sixth placed finish.
Round two moved down to Redruth in Cornwall last weekend, where the battle was to resume and she had unfinished business.
With a few notable names missing, but tough opposition still present, Crumpton took to the start line eager to impress.
Starting on the front row she shot off the front, fighting against ex-world downhill champion Tracy Moseley to get into the first downhill single track where they were shoulder to shoulder, but Crumpton came out on top.
A group of five riders moved away off the front of the race on the first lap and, with the Redditch ace pushing the pace on, the front this was to be whittled down to two by the start of the second lap – an England versus Scotland battle.
As the race progressed Crumpton set about trying to break her breakaway companion and was to find that she was quicker on the downhill sections, which was to be the turning point of the race as on lap three Crumpton began to push on on the descents and again on the climbs.
By lap four she was well clear and riding a very controlled race – showing maturity beyond her years – and by the end of the race on lap six she had taken her first carrier win in the elite women’s category.
This puts Crumpton in second place overall in the series and in the spotlight for selection for England for the Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, July 23-August 3).
Attentions now turn to the World Cup campaign in Europe at the end of this month.
Crumpton’s exploits can be followed on Twitter @BethCrumpton.