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Downhill Mountain Bike Success for Cranston

(26 April 2018)

Charlie Cranston in action.

Over the days of April 18th and 19th, nearly 250 riders descended upon BikePark Wales for the 2018 BUCS Downhill Mountain Biking Championships. Six of those riders were from Durham, namely; Thomas Collier-Taylor, Josh Leigh, Max Davis, Matthew Fossett, Charlie Cranston and Mari Cole.

Olivia Boudette also joined the team in being a marshal for the race, so many thanks to her. The track was a true test of bike handling; it was generally rough and fast with some large features, but also a few technical sections which caught out a lot of riders over the two days. After heavy rain fell from the day before practice kicked off, it was a soggy affair to start off with, making it even more challenging. However, with the sun beaming down over both days (some of Team Durham even got sunburnt!), most of the open sections became quite dry when it was time to go racing. However, Matthew Fossett decided the track was too easy for him as he tried to hit a drop before the start of the track, which sadly resulted in breaking his collarbone.

The race works in a two-day format with the first day being for practice only. Then, the final day has practice in the morning, followed by qualifying, where only the top 100 men and top 10 women make it through the finals later in the day. With the great Jono Jones having graduated last year, the title was up for grabs for the first time since 2014. It looked like Exeter’s Josh Lowe would be the favourite, but with a stacked field of riders like Will Weston, Morgan Gulland and number 1 plate, Dan Murray, it was going to be a tough battle. When it came down to qualifying, Mari was first up in the women’s race. Unfortunately, she repeated what she did last year and crashed in her run to just miss out on going through to the finals by less than five seconds. Thomas was our first man on track, but he too crashed out and missed the finals by two seconds. Max Davis was next up, also having problems, finishing in 165th place. Next up was Charlie Cranston, who put down a solid run and qualified in 15th place. Josh Leigh was Durham’s last man down for qualifying and put down a good run to qualify in 78th. So with only Charlie and Josh to hold it down for Durham, they gave it everything. Unluckily for Josh, he couldn’t manage to better his qualifying run and finished up in 81st, but he got a big cheer from sending the last jump! On the other hand, Charlie managed to put in a time over ten seconds faster than his qualifying and so he sat in the hot seat until Aberdeen’s Dan Murray came down, eventually ending up 5th, which is Durham’s best result to date. The favourite, Josh Lowe, ended up taking the win by only 0.4 seconds from Glasgow’s Morgan Gulland with Birmingham City’s Will Weston finishing 3rd.

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