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Ben Thomas wins at Southern XC Series Final4th JUL 2012

This past weekend the 2012 Southern XC Series came to a close with the fifth and final round at Frith Hill in Surrey. Having ridden three of the previous four rounds I stood a good chance of securing second place in the series but was yet to win a round this year, I was determined to make amends at this final round.

On Saturday I joined Calum and Scott from team Mountain Trax for a practise of the race track. The lap was a real power course and could be ridden entirely in the biggest chainring, just how I like it! There wasn’t anything too technical but the singletrack was great fun and there were plenty of tight twists which could easily catch riders out as they tired during their final race laps.

A little rain around midday Sunday created only a little mud on the first singletrack descent, the rest of the track remainder loamy and dusty. A combination of Kenda Karma front tyre and Small Block Eight rear was perfect for the course conditions.

My start sprint was good and put me just behind Ade Lansley into the first descent, entering the first climb we both sprinted for the lead which opened a gap to the riders behind. Ade was keen to stay ahead and blocked my progress. He couldn’t stop me though and as the trail opened back up on the second part of the climb I sprinted past into the next bit of singletrack and didn’t look back!

It was unexpected having trained so hard during the days leading into the race but my legs felt great and the gap to Ade began to open. I added time on each climb or open fireroad and took it steady on the singletrack making sure I hit my lines, saving energy, and looking after the bike.

A few days before the race Mountain Trax had very kindly fitted the new Sram X0 ten speed grip shifters to my bike. I was super keen to try these new shifters and they’re a great addition to the Sram XX groupset I have. The older triggers were good but these are even smoother and quicker to change through the gears, even letting you change multiple gears in one go. Despite only having one day riding with the new grip shifters before the race it was easy to adjust and I’m sure they helped me win the race.

By the end of the first lap I had a fifteen second lead, it wasn’t much and a small mistake would have put Ade straight back onto my wheel but I kept up the pace. My next three laps times were within three seconds gradually getting quicker each time around. This was enough to crack the opposition and open up a decent lead on the fourth lap. I was then out of sight but still felt good and was enjoying racing my bike around the fun trails the venue offers.

After just over one and a half hours I crossed the line with my arms aloft taking the win with a gap of nearly three minutes on second place Ade Lansley and a further minute to Ben Sumner in third! The points acquired from the win were enough for me to take second place in the series.

Last week was a big training week and the strength of my legs during the race was a little unexpected but a pleasant surprise with just three weeks to go until National XC Championships. With another two big weeks of training hopefully I can make further progress and collect a decent result at Champs.

This weekend I join team Mountain Trax for the team event TwentyFour12 at Newnham Park in Plymouth.

Thanks for reading.
Ben Thomas

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