Just finally taken a good look through the 2011 entries and wanted to collate some thoughts / initial things that strike me. In no particular order:
- It's Big
Not really much surprises here but this year's entry looks huge and we should see a record number of starters in September. There's som ebig name first timers on there too, as well as a few welcome returns... which leads neatly on to:
- The first British National Cyclocross champ for a while.
Paul Oldham will start the 2011 3 peaks cyclocross as the first current male senior champion since... (I'm struggling a bit here) ... ? Anyway - certainly the first senior male champ I can remember riding in recent history. Louise Robinson is riding again and I think she was the last senior national champ to have ridden the 3 peaks in their national jersey.
- More to play for at the top
Aside from having some more very high quality riders than in recent years, it's also a bit muddier to predict who'll win the team prize this time round. Team Wheelbase have won in some guise or other for every year but one in 2003, when Nick Craig, Dave Collins and Keith Murray squeezed them out. The trio of Paul Oldham, Dave Collins and Keith Murray will give hope some good hope (geddit?) of that prize this year with Wheelbase lacking big hitter Stu Reid, who has counted in the 1st team for most of those years. (Stu is having an operation on his shoulder and will miss the 'cross season). Talking of shoulders...:
- Cold Shoulder
Rob Jebb, who has been pretty good at the 3 peaks in the past took a very nasty tumble in one of the English Championship fell races (just down the road from me) and had two very painful hours getting his shoulder put back in at the same hospital I spent 2 painful hours getting my shoulder back in in April. Suffice to say that a fit Rob Jebb may not have things all his way this year (his shoulder was dislocated just weeks before his 2009 defeat). I'm sure the go very very very fast up Ingleborough strategy will be employed again though... but after eight wins it's not a done deal. Nothing is. Race on.
- Movers and Shakers
There's a few people who have had potential for a while who have been flying in various forms this year - expect some stalwarts to suddenly move up the positions this year.