Vitus Bikes XTERRA Pro James Walker has taken a hard fought third position overall in last weekends National Cross Duathlon Champs at Hole Park. The Manchester based athlete lined up against a small but talented field, which included some of the UK’s most talented off-road triathletes including multiple World-Champion Richard Stannard and XTERRA Pro’s Jon Heasman and Jim McConnel.
The championship race kicked off with a 2-lap 10km tough cross country and with some big names in the field, it was somewhat surprising to find some of the lesser known age groupers running out hard early on and leading the field, whilst the better known elites occupied 5-10th position – perhaps using their experience to gauge the difficulty of the course and save it for the bike leg.
Moving up from 4th to 1st over the first two of three laps was pre-race favourite Sam Gardner, whose mountain biking strength was telling but then a lapse in concentration from the experienced athlete changed the face of the race. Gardner pulled into transition after 2 laps (one lap too early) and started the run course. Fortunately he realised the error after just a few 100 metres of the run but it was enough for McConnel to catch and pass him by the time he returned to the race. Gardner then had to not only make back the 2 minutes lost but proceeded to race hard in order to regain his 2 minute lead which he did achieve by the time the front two returned to transition. At what cost would that extra effort be?
Gardner started the run and was moving well but when McConnell started his final 5km lap he went out like a cheetah. By the time they ran through the challenging cross country course it was McConnel who came home to win the championship title and pushed Gardner into 2nd with a cost of 2 minutes. It was a great race made thrilling all the more by Gardners error. Perhaps one he would like to forget but the spectators were loving the added dimension it brought and it made for a very exciting finish.
Vitus Bikes James Walker made up the podium also taking the AG25-29 win!
It was very Muddy and the windy conditions which made the race much tougher than expected. I’m really pleased to have a solid start to this season
Report taken from www.beyondgoinglong.co.uk/
Check out James’s RAPIDE 290 by clicking the photo below.
A dedicated and thoroughbred race proven platform, our Rapide 29 introduces high level performance for XC and marathon racing with an Ultra-Light T700 HM-UD carbon frame featuring refined geometry and impeccable handling characteristics optimised for 29” wheels! The Rapide 290 features a RockShox Reba RL fork; Shimano XT groupset with SLX hydraulic dosc brakes; WTB/Formula wheelset with Vitus finishing kit to complete the package.