British National '25' TT Championship
THE HAT-TRICK MAN
SNATCHING victory in the last couple of miles, Stuart Dangerfield (Camel Valley C and TC-Business Solutions) powered to a course record 49-13 to win the National 25-mile Championship for a third consecutive season, and the fourth time in six years.
After a runaway victory counted in minutes a year earlier, Dangerfield scraped home by just 15 seconds as Michael Hutchinson (Team MDT-Giant) was left to salvage the silver medal for a third successive year.
The championship was decided over a course alongside picturesque Bassenthwaite Lake, on the A66 from Keswick to Cockermouth and back, and Dangerfield's winning time took 51 seconds from the course record which Chris Boardman had set - in the reverse direction - when he won the championship 10 years earlier.
Hutchinson, reportedly a handful of seconds up on Dangerfield with two miles to go, at least had the privilege of beating Boardman's mark nearly 10 minutes before the champion stormed across the line, and as spectators and amateur timekeepers made their way back to the event headquarters at Braithwaite Memorial Institute many were ready to applaud a Hutchinson victory.
Various estimates put Hutchinson five seconds up on Dangerfield after four miles, then four seconds down before the turn at Cockermouth. At three miles another claimed Hutchinson led by four seconds, while another watcher said it was three seconds with two miles to go.
But Dangerfield produced a storming finish to swing the result. It wasn't the outcome Hutchinson had wanted but, after Dangerfield's stunning win by two and a half minutes last year, it at least restored the status quo of two years ago when the pair were separated by 16 seconds.
It was a battle at the highest level that left Newton - the rider many thought could break the Dangerfield-Hutchinson stranglehold - full of praise for them and making no excuses for himself.
First of the top seeds to ride was long distance commuter Carlos Riise (Shetland Wheelers), who had asked for an early start so that he could catch a flight back home from Glasgow.
Off number 10, he was an early leader with 53-28. "What was the course like," he was asked. "It's hard each way, and I don't expect to be in the lead for long," he admitted. "Michael Pooley put a minute into me in the Scottish 25-mile Championship last week, so I reckon he will do a '52' today."
Nearly two hours later he was proved right, just, as the Musselburgh RCC rider did 52-57 for 11th place.
Before that, however, Matt Bottrill (Race Scene CC), off number 20, moved to the top of the board with 52-47.
Times improved as first Stuart Shawcross (Team Lighthouse) moved ahead with his 52-35 and then Julian Winn took the lead with 52-19.
Newcomer Alex Peach (Dulwich Paragon) - with a string of recent successes in time trials and road races - came and went, his 53-49 slotting him into 20th place in his first outing at championship level.
Winn was still holding top spot, but now Chris Newton was on the road, looking good and pushing a big gear as he headed towards the Cockermouth turn.
He was back in 50-30 and the race lead was his with the four top seeds - Mark Atkinson (Team Velo Ecosse), Zak Carr (API Bikes.com), Hutchinson and Dangerfield - still to finish.
Atkinson managed 52-43, while Carr was eight seconds faster with 52-35. Bronze medallist in last year's national 10-mile championship, Carr had hoped to do better despite his early season being compromised by a knee injury that had put him at least a month back in his preparation.
"It's coming gradually, and I'll be going a lot better for the '50'," Carr promised.
By now the Hutchinson-Dangerfield battle was well under way. Hutchinson had looked the more powerful as he headed out to Cockermouth with a slight edge over Dangerfield, who has the reputation for a strong finish.
Dangerfield's championship ride on Sunday only underlined that reputation.
What they said:
"I have been riding prologue time trials in stage races, but they are just not the same. I had good form in and after the FBD Milk Ras in Ireland, but that was two weeks ago and I've lost it a bit."
Like most of the top riders, the Commonwealth Games looms large in his
thoughts: "We have a stage race in France and the national road race
and we [the track endurance squad of team pursuiters] will have an intense
couple -of weeks at Manchester before the Games."