FOURTH place or higher at Rutland Water on Sunday will guarantee Bourne’s Ali Slater the series victory in the National Trophy cyclo-cross series.
But he will hope for better luck than last weekend when he and two other Bourne riders crashed during racing at Derby and finished low down the pecking order at cyclocross’ showpiece event of the year, the National Championships, at Derby last weekend.
Ali started the junior race as one of the pre-race favourites but like his former Bourne Wheeler teammates, Sian and Mark Botteley, who had earlier crashed, Slater found himself in an uncharacteristic 18th place half-way round the first lap after an early incident.
Ali battled as hard as he could and got within a few seconds of the riders in second and third place with a lap and a half to go but unfortunately he could get no closer and eventually finished a creditable 5th, the same placing as last year, after an eventful race.
Young Tim James was the most succesful of a trio of Bourne Wheelers.
Tim rode brilliantly, on a far more technical course than he had ever tackled before, to finish 21st in the U14 category.
What made the ride all the more impressive was that he was also the third 12-year-old to finish on the day, and this can only bode well for next year when he will be one of the older children taking part.
In the U16 race, the newly crowned girls Midland champion, Sian Botteley had a race to forget, with two crashes and a mechanical problem, causing her to drop back through the field after a promising start. In the end, Sian soldiered on and finished 19th on the day.
In the veterans race, Mark was up against the biggest field of the weekend with 110 riders all starting together.
After the cavalry charge at the start, Mark found himself out of position and two crashes in quick succession did not help his cause. However sticking to his task as the race wore on he steadily moved up through the field to finish a creditable 57th.
l THIS weekend the team will take part in the final round of the National Trophy series at Rutland Water.
Racing, at Whitwell on the north shore of the reservoir, starts at 10.30am and continues until the elite class riders compete in the showpiece 2.4km Rutland International CiCLE Classic Cross starting 2.30pm.
Top riders from Britain and Belgium are expected to take part.