Welcome to the home of CNP - Orbea Racing

Welcome to the home of CNP - Orbea Racing

Throughout the 2012 season this site will provide up to date information, including which events we are competing in, race reports, riders blogs and any other team news

Friday, 14 October 2011

Team Bikes Sale

Oli's Alma G Team now sold.

Still one large G Team
one medium G Team
one large S Team 29
2 large Alma Gold frames to be had!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Team Bikes For Sale

It's the end of season and it's time to say good by to our successful fleet of Orbea Team bikes. Pick up yourself a fantastic bike ready for next season.

Orbea Alma Team Bikes For Sale

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

BMBS Round 5 Newnham Park

A quick post full report to follow

John took 12th place in the elite race sadly Oli was caught up in first corner pile up and ended up in A n E with a gashed knee.

Cameron got ill over night and raced to a creditable 14th considering

Finally Darren came home in 16th in the masters slipping and sliding his way around the tricky technical course.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Matt reports on the European Championship

European Champs-Slovakia
In the weeks leading up to the European champs there was a rather interesting fact that came to light: nobody in England, myself included, seems to know anything about Slovakia! So I was excited by the prospect of discovering somewhere new, learning about a new country…and trying to beat a few other European mountain bikers in the process!
We flew into Bratislava at around 10 and arrived at the hotel at 11. We had eaten at the airport, but when we heard the chef had stayed up late to prepare us a meal, it seemed rude not to sample some of the local cuisine. It was a pasta meal that contained so much wild garlic it nearly blew my head off! I enjoyed it nonetheless, and when we retired to our rooms to find they were more like apartments in their own right, the trip was starting to really look up!
Riding the course the next day was fun, it wasn’t super technical, but a straight up, straight down sort of affair. It would make a good racing course, it was obvious the race would blow apart on the first lap and would be won on the big climb. The other thing that had to be looked at was the heat. At around 30degrees in the midday sun, I was pretty cooked at the top of the climb, so I knew I’d have to be on top of this!

Race day was different to usual, as we had a very late start at 5 in the afternoon. This was no bad thing as it would be much cooler at that time of day. We did the usual warm up, then off to the pens, where the biggest challenge was keeping cool as they were directly in the sun! The GB coaches had arranged for us to have umbrellas shading us while we continued warming up on the turbo in the pens….I felt a little bit pro at this point!
The start went off pretty quick, I was up in about 10th until the “first lap kamikazes” flew past up the first climb and I slipped through to about 20th. This has happened at all the European races I’ve done, it just seems to be a feature of their racing style, you can usually bet about half of these guys will out the back by the end of the race! Sure enough, as things progressed, I managed to wind up as the race went on and steadily climbed through the field to finish 12th. I will take that, I know I didn’t go there with my best form and that I can still get better from here. I do need to pull myself into a better position on the first lap, I hope that once I can do this the rest of the race is likely to be more straightforward, rather than having to pass fading riders!
Next stop…WORLDS! This takes place in Champery, Switzerland. I’ve been to Switzeralnd once before and rated it as the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen! I’m very much looking forward to being able to go there with a bike and get to ride what I’ve been told is the must totally nuts track on the xc circuit! 

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Bontrager TwentyFour12

Team CNP - Orbea undertook their very first 24hr race last weekend at Bontrager TwentyFour12. The venue was Newnham Park, a classic mtb venue if ever there was one, and one which all team riders were familiar with having been a fixture in British National XC series over the last 3 years.
A beautifully designed course (thanks Maddy and Jay Horton) had many distinct sections, from the big ring climbs of the first half onto the moors, the slippery rooty singletrack on the way back to the arena for the first time to the steep lung bursting climbs back out until finally swoopy descent back down. It was interesting and certainly the most challenging 24hr course any of the riders had come across.
Matt holding the wheel of an olympian
The CNP - Orbea support team was boosted up from 2 to 3 for the weekend, mechanic Damon Manning was on hand to keep all 4 Orbea Alma running sweetly. Jan looked after all the riders off bike needs with a CNP influenced food buffet table, RnR tent space and an all important cooked dinner. Team boss Dave held the whole thing together to ensure we had quite possibly the slickest baton exchanges of any team with riders never having to wait longer than 1-2minutes.
John exiting the woods
By having a perfect support team the riders could just concentrate on what they do best riding their Alma's as fast as they can. First up was the 2011 Junior national champion Matt Sumpton and he got the team into a perfect position leading the 24hr race and 2nd in 12hr. Next up John continued this pace with a quick 2nd lap before exchanging the baton to Oli who experienced the only real misfortune of the whole 24hr race breaking his chain half way through the lap costing the team 12 minutes, Darren then steadied the ship and we set about catching first. After a succession of sub 40 minutes laps Oli had the perfect chance to make up for the mechanical as he set off less than 30 seconds behind 1st place rider. By the end of the lap the team was in first and by the half way point of the race had extended the lead to over 25 minutes and if the race had finished then the team would have come 3rd in the 12hr.

Darren on the first of many climbs
During the night laps the overnight dew made the course slick and all riders had a few sketchy moments but no serious offs meant as dawn broke the team had extended the lead to 30mins. A couple of mega quick laps by Matt and John (40min and 41min) in the mid morning meant Oli could cruise around the final lap to take the overall win for CNP - Orbea completing an impressive 32 laps in 24hr 1min. I believe this is CNP and Orbea's very first 24hr mtb success in the UK if not Europe.
CNP - Orbea Bontrager TwentyFour12 Champions

A fantastic performance by all those involved, the support team of Damo, Jan and Dave along with riders Matt Sumpton, Darren Alexander, John Whittington and Oli Holmes and our sponsors CNP Professional, Orbea, Continental Tyres and Bioracer.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

2011 XC National Championships

The CNP - Orbea team produced their strongest performance of the year on the most important race weekend of the year, the national championships. For 2011 the championships were held at Aske near Richmond, Yorkshire. 
The approx. 6km circuit had a little bit of course to suit everyones tastes and was divide into three very distinct sections. The first punctuated by 3 steep grassy climbs and two steep descents , the middle section of the lap more of a sherwood style course, flat fireroads and fast singletrack and finally the slow tight and twisty singletrack section that brought you to the final fireroad stretch. With the bad weather over the weekend it just add the final ingredient to make it a little bit more technical and a true mountain biking course worthy of any national championships.
Matt Sumpton - 2011 Junior National Champion

The first of the CNP-Orbea riders to compete was Cameron Balfour in the youth race. Cameron made a great start and found himself within the top 5 riders and for the first time this year a real chance of racing against the best youth riders. However sadly for Cameron he was to befall the only bad luck of weekend snapping his chain on the first lap ending his race. Cameron was very down and frustrated post race as anyone who has suffered mechanical issues whilst racing well can understand. However the team know it is only a matter of time before Cameron gets the result he deserves.
John sliding his way to 8th

Next up was the mid day race which included the junior national championships and for the team the best chance of receiving an illustrious national championship medal. Matt made a solid start and buoyed with confidence of looking for a hat-trick of victories over the last month took charge of the race on the very first steep climb gaping the field and powering on solo for the remainder of not just the lap but the rest of the race. Lapping the first lap over 1 minute faster than second place he didn't look back and by the half way point had build a 2 and half minute lead. With a little sideline encouragement from 5 time national champion Oli Beckingsale Matt pushed on to ride a faultless race not making a single mistake on the tricky circuit finishing the 4 lap race almost 4 minutes ahead of second place. Awesome performance and just reward for rider who until finishing his A-levels just before Margam has had to juggle school work with training. Next up for Matt will be the World Championships in Champery at the beginning of September and now a full time athlete he can really give it his best shot. 
In the Masters race Darren Alexander who has struggled with illness over the past two months finished a creditable 8th in his UCI age group of 35-39 and 16th overall in the BC Masters category.

Darren negotiating the first chute
The final race of the day was the senior national championships 60 of the best (over 23yrs) riders in the country lined up to do battle including CNP-Orbea's John Whittington and Oli Holmes. John lined up on the 3rd row Oli on the 6 neither had expectations only to ride a hard consistent smooth race. As the gun was fired the race was on and John made a screamer moving up into the top 5 Oli on the other hand was stuck in traffic being cut up and crested the top of the first climb in the mid 30's. The traffic jam down the first section of singletrack was painfully slow for those mid pack. On the steep climbs Oli made a few more places moving up into the mid twenties. Entering the final section of singletrack John made a few mistakes and finally slipped back to around 10th place. Oli picked of few more riders but was once again held up really badly on the long section of singletrack. By the end of the fireroad drag back to the arena Oli had made his way into 21st place. As the race progressed both riders settle into the race having good battles with other riders and going into the last lap John in 8th and held off a late charge by 9th place Ben Thomas to cross the finishing line a very impressive 8th. Oli second half a race became a relatively lonely affair having shrugged off Ben Simmons he was to far behind the next rider to close the gap and rode to line conserving his 17th place. For Oli this felt like a massive relief having finally felt like he was progressing back to feeling like a half decent xc racer. 
Oli climbing his way to 17th

So overall a great weekend for the team and a big thanks to all the 2011 team backers and sponsors, CNP and Orbea who provided perfect nutrition and perfect bikes to power the riders to achieve the results they deserve. To Ken Jones at ominpex who provided the team with awesome Bioracer team clothing (just need a national champs jersey now) and conti tyres who kept are wheels from sliding to much. As always a massive shout out from all the riders to our team support crew Jan and Dave and this weekend big thanks to Darren for his Karcher petrol powered power wash which kept our bikes spotless.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

BMBS Round 4 Margam Park

Margam Park played host for round 4 of the BMBS and after two flat courses and a man made one it was time for an old school proper mtb course big ups and due to the days before weather slippery downs. The whole CNP - Orbea team was present with Roy deciding to break his semi xc retirement for an outing in Grand Vets.

The day before the weather was horrible and very reminiscent of last years mud fest but with forecast for the next day showing sun it was going to make the course conditions interesting and the team opted for continental x - kings which were perfect for the conditions.

The weather forecast was bang on and the early morning sun revealed the temperatures were going to be sky high come the mid day and afternoon races. In the relatively cooler morning race Cameron had possibly the worst start possible slipping a pedal and falling to the back of the youth pack. However a strong remained of the lap clawed his way back to 8th. By the end of the last lap gain a couple more places to cross the line in 6th.

As mid day approached the temperatures crept towards the mid twenties, eventually topping out at 28, both John and Oli were looking forward to the race for John maybe a little to much. As the elite race hit the first technical singletrack the bottle neck effect led to the field running. On mounting before the first techy shoot John made the critical error of being too keen to set off and maintain position before clipping in at least one pedal. With a front row view of the incident Oli then witness his CNP - Orbea team-mate take a heavy over the bars crash. Landing heavily on his knee John's race was in danger of being over before it started. Oli avoided John and some how his bike to finish the first lap strongly inside the top 20. The second lap went really well too picking off riders who were abandoning due to the heat moving into 14th but sadly for Oli the heat attacked his body too. Oli complain post race saying it felt like his body went into a safety mode purely based on staying cool and providing him zero power to his legs. Having virtually come to crawl Oli crossed the line in 22nd. Sadly for John his knee pain became to much and he abandoned after 2 laps.

Ride of the day went to Matt Sumpton once again. Having set the target of winning a round of BMBS at the beginning of the season he succeed in completing that goal. The course with it's climbing nature and along with the heat (Matt has always thrived in the heat) things just fell nicely into place to allow him to ride comfortably to his biggest win of his career. This despite finding it difficult on the slippery descents crashing at least once a lap. Matt is now fired up for the National Championships and the possibility of being selected for the World Championships.

Photo from the Orange Monkey - Cannondale website
In the afternoon race the temperature was at it's hottest and the team had for it's first time two riders represented. Roy almost equalled Matts success leading for the majority of the race until like Oli the heat got to him and on the last lap he faded back to 3rd. A brilliant result nevertheless and maybe enough of an encouragement for Roy to have a go for the Grand Vets national title come July. Darren having only just fully recovered from his spell of illness survived the heat as well as he could to finish 20th.

Sadly the support team was down to 50% for the weekend and we have no photos of the event. But thanks to Orange Monkey - Cannondale team we can provide a photo of Matt on the podium.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

BMBS Round 3 Wasing Park

After what seemed like forever almost 2months since Dalby it was time for round 3 of the British National Series held in the Wasing Park Estate. The course is fast in the dry and as the team found out this weekend still fast in the wet with very little in the way of technical obstacles (as at Dalby) the course is all about maintaining speed which brings about its own technical challenges especially when the heavens open. 
Practise on Saturday allowed riders to get to know the lefts and right but with the conditions very different on race day everybody started the race unsure on conditions. 
Cameron enters the feed zone
First up was CNP - Orbea youth rider Cameron and after a busy schedule of road racing between dalby and Wasing Cameron was looking forward to the race. A very quick opening lap put cameron into a good position inside the top ten after a slightly sketchy second he picked up the pace again on the last two laps to finish in 11th an improvement over Dalby but Cameron was disappointed showing is desire to get closer to be closer to the top 5. Maybe Margam with it's long climbs is a place it will all come together.
The CNP - Orbea easy up allowed rider to warm up in the dry

Race 2 included the elite and Junior categories and after a stellar showing at the World Cups Matt Sumpton was keen to keep the pressure on Grant in hope for an elusive BMBS race win. After struggling to get to grips with course 12 months ago matt is a changed rider moving effortlessly during our practise through the meandering singletrack, where as before he would be constantly making small mistakes now he made it look easy. The weather did Matt no favours (likes it hot) neither did the delayed start, or being in the middle of exams but he settle into the race at the head of the race for the first 2 1/2 laps of the race but when the move came Matt was unable to respond and found himself being jumped by other riders other than Grant. His energy depleted Matt struggled around the remainder of the race to finish 4th 4mins down. Matt was very disappointed but shows his level this year when a bad day results in 4th.
A very muddy John
John's race went about as well as he could have hoped for having also dramatically improve his twisty singletrack skills in last 12months John is now is able to use his power to inflict pain on others rather than make up for his silly mistakes. The elite race started extremely fast as everyone new the bottle necking that would take place on the first section of singletrack. John started well to move inside the top twenty a few places above his start board a bit further back Oli had a descent start moving from 43rd on grip to inside top 30. As the race progressed John settle into his own pace and raced a lonely race just ahead of group but not quite catching the group ahead and finished 17th. Oli had the best half a race he's had all season  riding well feeling strong but then it exploded on lap four in state of cramp and dehydration he's still unsure why this happened but the remained of the race was similar to Matt just survival droppping like stone through the field to finish 31st losing 5mins to his race companion for the first half Ben Simmons who finished 24th.

By race 3 the rain was biblical and the course was very ripped up but not even this and recovering from a serious stomach illness was to stop Darren enjoying himself. His explosive power wasn't there but he was riding well technically allowing him to finish in 22nd. After another 2 weeks recovery Darren should be back up to 100% fit.  
So a tough weekend for the CNP - Orbea team who are all looking forward to the next race at Margam park.  

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Matt's report on April and May - world cups and more!

Not written much since Sherwood really, but it’s certainly been busy since then! With a little bit of a break in racing it seemed like a good time to report on what’s been going on. Following Sherwood all my efforts turned to Dalby NPS, a more technical track and one which would be a better indicator of my climbing and descending form. A few issues leading up to race day meant I wasn’t as confident as at Sherwood, but when the race started I seemed to be going well and relaxed into it a bit. It became another one on one battle with Grant, until I slipped a chain and lost a fair bit of time. I was still in contention until I found I had a slow puncture and stopped in the arena to inflate it. After this it was just damage limitation, and I rolled in for another second place finish, a little disappointing but a good result given the circumstances.
Given that it was my birthday a few days after Dalby, I took some time off the bike and went over to Snowdonia for a few days with some mates. It was a great way to get away from the stress of training for a bit. We climbed Snowdon, ate good food and drank beer, can’t think of a better reward for the early season success! When I got back though, I found one: an email saying I’d been selected to ride in the next two rounds of the world cup series in Dalby and Offenburg. This was exactly what I’d been working for, and it was the best feeling to finally make the step up to international level!
Those two weeks were pretty awesome. I got the train up to Malton and was picked up by the British Cycling team. After that it all felt very professional! We stayed in some really nice accommodation and were given everything we needed to get the most out of the weekend. On race day I was nervous, but eager to establish where I slotted in on the international scene. The race was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, the support was great, and I just felt stronger and more relaxed as the race went on. I finished 12th, finishing on the same time as 11th having almost passed him in the finishing straight! The atmosphere in the camp afterwards was great as the other GB guys had all done really well, and we left feeling positive about Offenburg!
We flew out on Wednesday, and on Thursday we got to ride the course. I’d heard really great things about this course and was not disappointed. The track was awesome, there’s really nowhere like it (that I’ve ridden anyway)! It was more natural than a trail centre, but at the same time more technical and with more flow to it. Come race day I was hoping to improve on 12th, and had a good chance, being gridded 13th. Unfortunately I had a few problems during the race: on the start loop I got caught between a rider a post at the side on the track, and came through the start loop in 49th! I was up for the challenge though, and was confident I could work my way through the field like I did at Dalby. I felt really strong and did fight back to 15th on the third lap, but snapped my front mech, which bent the chain so I couldn’t pedal the bike at all. I still cant figure out how this happened (anyone snapped a FRONT mech off before?) but it meant I had a long run to the tech zone. I knew my race was over, but it was funny to be joined by a Belgian who had snapped his rear mech off, and we ended up having a sort of bizarre competition to see who could run to the tech zone the fastest ( turned out he was a much better runner and won by a mile!). By the time I got there I was way down, and we didn’t have the parts to fix the bike anyway. So it was DNF, but I felt really good out there and took a lot of positives away from the event!
Massive thank you to anybody who was there at Dalby, or indeed Offenburg, who supported me! My mates made the trip up from chesterfield which was really good of them (considering bike racing is fairly low down on their list of interests!) so a big thank you to them! Here are some photos Bell took watching from Dixon’s Hollow and Worry Gill http://www.flickr.com/photos/achara42/5746231765/in/set-72157626778518136/

Oli's report on the Cambrian 3 day Bike Fest

With a weekend to fill and not a huge amount of events to compete in, fellow CNP - Orbea team mate Darren Alexander and I decided to take part in the inaugural running of the Cambrian Bike fest by redkiteevents. A 3 day event based in Llanwtrd Wells, claimed to be the smallest town in Britain, 12miles from Builth Wells (home to the well established MTB Marathon series). Each day consisted of marathon style big loop with feed stations and on the whole was brilliantly signed all the way.

On arrival to the campsite it was clear to see that turn out was going to be very low whether it was the weather forecast, the fact that MTB marathon series has visited Llandovery just down the road the weekend before or people being unsure on taking part in a new event i'm not sure but it was the first headache but by no means the last for the organisers.

Having managed to set up the tent and easy up (sadly no Holmes team support this weekend) Darren arrived and we settled down for the evening ready for 1st day.

The weather closed in over night the rain wind started to howl, it was fowl but spirits were still good and by the time we had sign on it was time to depart. With the small numbers there was to be no timing or set start time and we eneded up setting off a good 10 mins behind. The course was short in distance only ~50km but with the weather the going was exceptionally slow the distance was therefore was spot on for the conditions.

The bike of choice for the weekend would be my Orbea Alma S team 29er and oh what a bike for these style events when your barreling down a descent you've never seen before you have no idea whats coming, having a bike that gives you so much front end grip is fantastic. Despite running summer tyres all weekend I never really struggled for grip it was just great fun to ride.
This grip was definitely needed across the slippery wet muddy singletrack that littered Day 1.

Day 2 was the big day 67km 2000m+ of climbing and a very strong 40kph westerly wind along with the rain made the conditions even worst than the first day. Having ridden together yeasterday Darren explain to me he would reduce his speed on day 2 to feel confident of not blowing before then end so I decided to forge on ahead up the long climbs and down the awesome steep rocky/rooty descents. After finally catching up all rides that were taking the designated short cuts I reach the head of the infamous doethie valley after a gruelling super steep climb from the first feed station. Sadly for me the valley wasn't to be the highlight of the event as I punctures 15mins down. I then realised I had forgotten my canister inflator and was forced to get a tube in. Overall the puncture took forever for what ever reason and 10-15mins later I was going again. Darren had passed me when I punctured so in my haste to catch him up I rode raggedly and punctured again 5mins later. After another relatively slow change I set about the challenge of catching Darren. After 1hr or so of chasing I found Darren who was fixing a puncture himself. We then got lost having missed an arrow and I was now cold fed up and suffering from the pace I had set earlier in the day. Once we rejoined the track it was all about getting to the finish and therefore time for a few CNP caffeine gels. On the second to last descent, which was a cracker down off the mountainside through the woods, at the bottom I had punctured for the 3rd time! Darren rolled down a small way behind having had a massive barrel rolling crash luckly him and the bike were okay and we were finally on our way. We finally arrived at the finished and both really needing the fantastic homemade cakes that were on offer at the end of each day.

Day 3 and the rain was pouring but the wind had dropped the legs were knackered but the route was great. The organisers kept the show running on the last day despite only about 6-10 people riding but Darren and I fully appreciated the effort they made to ensure the day wasn't cancelled. The organisers had to change the route due to the weather the day before but it still rode well. Taking in a few km of the local manmade trails along with some classic bridleways and long climbs. By the end the rain had stopped and sun started to come out and the hard 3 days had come to a end.

A big thumbs up to the organisers for keeping going despite all the problems they encountered for first timers they put on a great event. If they stick at it and iron out a few problems will have a fantastic event that should become a permeant fixture on the enduro calendar. The only thing it needs is for a few more of you to turned up and enjoy some true Epic mountain biking.

Well done to those involved in the redkitevents team thanks to team sponsors Orbea and CNP for providing the perfect bike and top quality nutrition to help us get through the event.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Regional Championships

Last weekend was England and Wales regional championships.

In the Southern champs CNP-Orbea rider John Whittington rode strongly in a highly competive field to finish 6th 30sec off a podium place.

In the Midlands champs reigning midlands Junior champion Matt Sumpton decided not to race having been selected for the next two world cups he took the weekend off in preparation.

In the Northern champs Oli Holmes took the last step of the podium in 3rd. (he finish 4th in the race but winner was ineligible for champs.)

Not eligible for the champs but competing at the same event as Oli Cameron Balfour finished 3rd in the youth race. Roy Hunt decided not to race in the Grand vets but test himself against younger opposition finishing 4th in the expert race.

Darren Alexander was competing at a big two day Trailquest event at Grizedale results to follow.

Monday, 2 May 2011

John's account of His second victory of the season!

South-West Rd 2 Newnham Park

Yesterday I raced round 2 of the South-West ‘Circus of Dirt’ series down in Newnham Park. Newnham Park was one of my favourite courses, although recent incarnations have shaken that somewhat. The course yesterday however was the cream of the Newnham crop. At 9km, the world was Jay and Maddie Horton’s oyster and they created a loop which went out the back of the grounds, exploring tracks I had never seen. Plenty of singletrack, techy climbs, fireroad climbs, river crossings, it had it all.
My start tactic come together perfectly. Starting down a fireroad into a headwind, I choose not to really sprint and let others lead it out. Coming to the first singletrack I could play a new card in my armoury, getting in first knowing I could ride it smoother and putting hurt into my rivals trying to hold my wheel. It worked perfectly and by the first climb I already had a gap and to my surprise, a considerable one at the first lap of 3mins over a 24min lap. The rest of the race went well, although relatively long, to finish around 2hr10 and 11mins on second place. After my win at the last round I am on for the series so hopefully the next two rounds can be as successful. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

BMBS Round 2 Dalby

3 weeks on from the opener at Sherwood the BMBS move north for round 2 at the brilliant purpose built world cup course in Dalby forest. 

The course was built in 2009 ready to host the opening World Cup of 2010. Having received great praise from the worlds best elite riders the course is once again a fixture in the 2011 World Cup calendar. It's compact nature and many technical sections incl. worry gill and medusa's drop make it hit with all riders on the team commenting on how planted there Orbea Alma's felt.

For the CNP-Orbea team it was the first time all 5 regular XC racers would be competing thanks to Cameron's speedy recovery. Cameron was first off, starting at the very back of the youth field having missed the first round, started determined to pick off as many riders as he could. The course's only weakness is it's lack of overtaking places but Cameron rode well moving up to 13th by the finish. This will provide Cameron with a much improved gridding position for Wasing on June the 12th. 

Next up was Matt Sumpton having being the Star of the show at round 1 taking 2nd he was keen to find out if he could go one better. The race started exactly how he wanted taking the fight to Grant once again but sadly a slow puncture cost Matt his chance of having go for the win. However he manage to hold 2nd place and again proved the amazing jump in performance Matt has gain over the winter months.

In the Elite race John and Oli were out to have a more successful Dalby experience than the previous 2 years having DNF'd on both occasions. John started well and held his own in the top 20 for the majority of the race until a small mistake cost him time on the steepest climb of the race on lap 5. He recovered well on Lap 6 to finish 21st 45sec's off 16th. Oli having crashed out 2years ago and double puncturing in 2010 was looking to finish his first elite race since Sept 2009 without suffering a mechanical of some sort. this time there was no punctures, no chain brakes and no headset problems only lack of race fitness. After plenty of CNP Pro recover and peptide in the week prior to recover from his efforts in the CRC MTB marathon Oli finished a satisfied 35th. Not result he is overly proud of but the best he could have done on the day. Hopefully Oli's string of bad luck is finally over!

In the afternoon race the sun was still shining and speed was still frantic and in the fastest category of the afternoon race Darren held his own to finish 16th in the Masters category.

All in all a good weekend for the team with plenty of performances to build on.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Matt's Sherwood Story.

The first round of the NPS had been occupying my thoughts for some time. Apart from a few small races in the weeks leading up to it, I had no real way of knowing how good my form was, and as a result I was really nervous as to how I would perform. I’ve worked hard this winter, trying to analyse ways in which I can improve. I felt quite strong, but you never know until the gun goes off how well you’re actually going!

So Sherwood would be the first real test, and I wanted the result to be good! Practicing the course the day before, it was clear that it was going to be really fast. The conti race kings were the perfect tyres, and with that in mind I was confident I’d have an advantage come race day! I finished practice and made sure my nutrition was right, so had a decent meal (accompanied with CNP pro-recover!) so I could recover properly for the next day.

Race day dawned, and as soon as I got up I clicked onto auto pilot, following the routine I’ve developed over the last few seasons. It’s amazing how quickly time goes by leading up to race. I just had time to watch the morning races, and then it was all too quickly on the turbo and warming up ready for the fast start.

The field was the largest I’ve raced against and the start line looked quite impressive. The countdown to the start began, and as usual the last 15 seconds before the whistle seemed to go on forever! When the gun finally went off, it was a flat out sprint to the first bit of single track…and I managed to get the holeshot! A group of three of us broke away very quickly. Me, Grant and Ben all came through together on the first lap, but it soon came down to just me and Grant. After four laps at almost flat out pace I couldn’t shake Grant, nor could he drop me, and it became all too obvious it was going to come down to a sprint. To be honest I hadn’t really expected to be in contention by this point, and had no idea how I was going to handle the sprint. Unfortunately I think he sensed this, and nipped past me into the woods as we approached the finish. It became apparent that this cost me the race as there was no way past in the singletrack. I sprinted in 3 seconds down, the closest I’ve ever come to winning a national!

It was disappointing to lose by so little, but a quick analysis of the laps times shows I rode consistently, and at a pace that matched some of the elite riders, meaning that I can take only positives from this race, and can use the confidence gained from this to improve my training and continue to get faster as the season goes on!

One of my mates came along to support; he’s really into to photography and took some cracking pictures of the elite race. Here’s a picture of me during the race (note the awesome new kit, and the blingness of the orbea alma!)  http://www.flickr.com/photos/achara42/5565454259/in/set-72157626241895407/

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

John's view from Sherwood

After a not so good start stuck behind someone who forgot to move when the gun went, I found myself near the back of the field. Hitting the singletrack was reminicent of a World Cup with a staggering 70 odd riders, but I quickly started moving up through the slower riders. Myself and Nick Craig formed a duo but with my legs feeling great I was more interested in ragging it then sharing the work, with every rider ahead a carrot on a stick. Each rider we came to I just wanted to press on and keep the pace hard. Pacing was out the window but with the shorter race times and bad start I was looking to leave nothing in reserve, plus I was having loads of fun! Unfortunately by lap 5 the duracell bunny was starting to go flat, Nick sensing my spring and technical was getting loose attacked and the other riders in the group which I had previously caught, slowly pulled away. The gap behind was strong however and I finished a painful final lap, 33rd.

Not a position I am pleased with but a race performance which I certainly am. The legs felt amazing but I am more pleased by how much I have improved technically. Leading Nick, whom I have always considered one of the best technically, through the twisty challenging singletrack of Sherwood and not feeling like I am slowing him down, has given me a big confidence boost. I was able to hold other his and others wheels through the course without loosing ground and at times even feeling held up. I may have blown up but that was simply my overzealousness overpowering tactics. I am slightly annoyed I don't have a position to show for how I felt and can't help but wonder what would have been if I had had that all important Sherwood start I wanted and been able to ride more sensibly but it is only the first race of many and hopefully I can show it later in the season. 

So, a winter of working on power and technical skill seems to have worked. Now I need to gain a gutsy, ruthlessness to hold my position at the start. What does that involve? Going out on a Saturday night in Bristol?

Monday, 28 March 2011

BMBS Round 1

The British Mountain Bike Series kick off last weekend at Sherwood Pines Forest and 4 out of the six CNP - Orbea riders were in action.

Sadly for Cameron he attended but his stitched gashes in his knee (obtained at SXC r.d.1) were too deep for him to be able to race. Fingers crossed they are all healed by Dalby in 3 weeks time.

Junior rider Matt Sumpton stole the show using his new found flat power and impeccable bike handling skills to stick with Grant Ferguson and challenge him to a sprint finish after 1hr 12 min of racing. Unfortunately Grant's experience got the better of Matt and in the closing metres and the British Cycling supported rider got the better of him. 

To put Matt's rate of improvement in context on a similar course 12 month's ago he finished Minutes down on Grant. 

In the biggest Elite field of the past 15 years of 68 riders John Whittington rode strongly after a poor start moving steadily upwards each lap. John eager to push after a slow start dug a little too deep and towards the end it caught up with him dropping him down a couple of places back to more than respectable 33rd place. 

Oli's race was over almost quickly as it started breaking his chain 100metres into the race a slightly slow chain replacement meant Oli then raced by himself for the next 1hr 45mins trying not to interfere with the expert and Junior races that he was now in the middle of. The team all hope Oli's run of bad luck will end and he slowly get back to were he use to be. 

In the Masters category Darren fought hard and rode what he described as his best Sherwood Pines performance finishing a decent 24th on a course parcour that doesn't suit Darren strengths. 

More in depth rider views to follow.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

1st Win and another 2nd place

CNP - Orbea got it's first win of the season thanks too an emphatic win by Matt Sumpton at round 1 of the Midlands XC series. First race nerves and worries were put to bed with his first win by over 5mins! Matt is now looking forward to Sherwood this weekend.

Cameron Balfour had an eventful but fruitful start to the season finishing second at round one of the Scottish series. This despite crashing hard enough to have to go to hospital after the race, a brave and fine performance.

Elite rider Oli Holmes got his race season off and running finishing a lonely 8th at round one of MXC. Problems started for Oli on assembly of his bike out of the car when he found a badly sticking piston on his bike was causing the wheel to hardly rotate. (it had been fine the day before) It led to 5-6 stops to try and improve the situation but in the end it was just as bad at the finish as at the start. Better luck next race Oli it's all good training. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

First Race of the Season First Podium

John Whittington rode strongly at last weekend's British Universities Student championships finishing a close second place. John fought hard for the victory but alas it wasn't to be and John had to settle for the silver medal for the second time (his first came in 2008 finishing behind our Oli Holmes).

The form John showed has given him the confidence to go to BMBS Sherwood knowing he is in good form.

For those that like crash video's there aren't much better than this inlcuding John being taken out from an out of control student (2min 15).  Heckling of this sort can only ever be found at the BUCS XC   

BUCS 2011 X.C Carnage! from Joe Bowman on Vimeo.

Cameron also rode brilliantly at the Innerleithen XC TT finishing first in the Junior category.

Next up Cannock Chase and the first round of the MXC for Matt and Oli and the first round of SXC for Cameron. 

Monday, 21 February 2011

CNP - Orbea Team Launch

On a snowy foggy weekend in the heart of the Peak District the 2011 CNP - Orbea team launched into 2011
Riders were invited to the team headquarters giving riders a chance to catch up and meet for the first time in the case of Cameron. It gave the opportunity to collect and wear the new team Bioracer Kit for the first time, pick up a new supply of CNP products and collect their 2011 Orbea Alma

L to R - Darren Alexander, Oli Holmes, John Whittington, Cameron Balfour and Matt Sumpton

The team will contest all the British Mountain bike series with John and Oli competing in the Elite category, Matt Sumpton in Junior, Darren Alexander in the hotly contested masters category and successful scholarship applicant Cameron Balfour in Youth. One rider missing was multiple national Champion Roy Hunt, who's yet to decided on his exact race calendar but will be a frequently seen at Chainreaction cycles (CRC) marathon events. To learn more about each rider head over to the rider profiles page.

All the team are looking for strong performances at the National Championships and the following weekend a team of 4 will compete for victory at the Bontrager 24-12. The team will also have a presence at the CRC marathon series.
Riders also planned to race regionally competing in the southern xc, midlands xc, nutcracker xc and Scottish XC rounds.
All the elements are in place for a great 2011 thanks to Olympic Gold medal winning bikes from Orbea, world class nutrition from CNP professional, high quality team kit from Bioracer and German engineered tyre’s from Continental.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Oli and Matt escape to Spain

CNP - Orbea riders Oli and Matt took the opportunity to escape the miserable British February weather in favour of the sun of Southern Andalucia and get 7 days of MTB training. Here's Oli's view from the sun. 
View to 'snow' mountains from the Holmes family Finca
Having visit this region of Spain for over 8 years I have built up quite a local knowledge of the best singletrack and trails in the nearby woods and mountains of Alhaurin. Therefore unlike most mtb'ers I don't have to make the choice of spending more and going on guided holiday or being forced to ditch the MTB and stick to the road bike.  As a result the trip is all about riding top notch cross country singletrack and climbing and descending mountains. 
Matt traversing a cliff edge
The trip was originally planned for the week before with John coming as well but the financial problems of being a student and saving for a power tap caused John to fore go the camp. It work out great for Matt and I because we went a week later, missing the Spanish rain, and were blessed with 20 degree heat and blue sky's. 

A 3.45 start on Sunday morning along with Matt scratching his new Oakley Radars on the last day were the only downsides the ups were 4 hard days of mountain biking, 1 cafe rides, 1 set up ride and 1 road ride. Oh and the near perfect weather

Day 1 After a quick 40min spin on the day we arrived Matt and I spent the monday adjusting to the Spanish terrain on a local Spanish xc course at Los Llannos, Matt was already in love with singletrack rough, steep, and hard but loads of fun.
Matt working hard climbing 
Day 2 was spent exploring the longer climbs on the base of the the Mijas mountain (A preview of what was to come on the day after rest day). The ride included an all time favourite 20 min+ stretch of traversing singletrack with steep switch back climbs and descents what more could you ask for! the GPS location no chance this is a best kept secret. A few short sprints up the kickers on the way back home finished another hard days riding.

Pool in winter hibernation however we could have done with it on some of days.
Day 3 time to show Matt why so many road teams use the area for training Camps as we took to the road and left the dirt behind for a 3 hour spin between Alhaurin, Coin, Aloziana, Zalea, Alhora, Cartama. The steady road ride didn't quite happen as we both got carried away on the climbs and Matt keen to show of his form on the back of his first ever cross season. Needless to say Matt is fine shape for the 2011 mtb season and a few more days of riding with matt and i'll be too. 

Day 4 Rest day and after 3 solid days of riding a 1 hr cafe ride with cake and cafe con leche was a perfect respite.

Matt struggling for grip on the loose surface
Day 5 The 1000m vertical ascent and descent of the Mijas mountain. Having climbed this brute on three occasions now I can state it doesn't seem to get any shorter or less steep. Averaging between 15 and 25 percent for 90% of the climb up an access fire track would be hard enough but add in the terribly loose surface makes it twice as hard. The problem with the climb is you can't stand up without slipping out the rear wheel and you are constantly fighting the bike a real full body work out. The climb started with a good but controlled tempo through the town but once we hit the rough stuff the pain started. 1 hr later the climb ended both spent both exhausted both wishing we hadn't bothered. However once recovered thanks too CNP pro flapjacks and Gels we were ready to attack the 1000m vertical descent 85% of which was steep alpine singletrack. After one spill one puncture and plenty of rock gardens the smiles had return and the sprints up the final kickers took placed once again.

Day 6 The Final day and the hard week finally caught up with Matt and pace on the climbs reduced to a more steady pace and we just enjoyed the singletrack and 22 degree sun. We had intended to ride the 'Anna's' singletrack (the 20min traverse) for a second time but Wild boar hunting in the forest and the wish not to be shot by a rifle prevent us from riding it. The ride finished with a Cafe stop followed by 30 spin back to the Finca and sad process of packing up the bikes in preparation of return to rainy Britain.

A big thanks to my parents Dave and Jan Holmes for letting us stay at there Finca and also to CNP in which their products kept us going all week.