By Liam Moakes 29/05 Updated: 05/06 16:59
THE LAST four weeks have seen the start of the 2012 national mountain bike campaign for Redditch cycling sisters Beth and Rosie Crumpton and there has been plenty to celebrate.
Back at the tail end of March round one took place near Macclesfield, where they were to do battle at the traditional season opener on the fast and furious Sherwood Pines Forest circuit.
With Beth looking to go one better than last season's second place in the national series and Rosie looking to gain qualification for the inter-region MTB Championships, it was going to be important they got off to a good start to their series campaign.
Beth was up against fellow ODP rider Alice Barnes and, after coming back from an injury-hit winter, the Junior race was going to be very competitive.
Rosie was up against the best youth female riders in the country and had always got a fight on her hands.
With Beth resplendent in her new team colours of Team Scott Contessa, she rode to a good second place which was good enough to secure her selection for Team GB at the second round of the MTB World Cup race in Belgium.
In the Youth race Rosie finished a creditable eighth and beat some good riders in the process.
With Beth having gained selection for Houffalize, Belgium, she was going to come up against the best junior riders the world had to offer, so it was going to be a bigger challenge all round.
With the course requiring a high level of fitness and skill and Beth not having the best of grid positions (34th), she set about giving herself the best chance of a good finish by forcing her way to the front of the field and eventually settling down into tenth spot for most of the race.
A small group of riders fought for position throughout and Beth had a few minor falls - causing her to lose vital places - but she was to finish a very creditable 16th and first GB rider home.
Round two of the national series moved north to Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire, and Beth and Rosie were again going to do battle in their respective categories.
Dalby has a reputation of breaking bikes and riders but this was again a challenge the duo would rise to, despite bad weather over the weekend making it even more challenging.
In the Junior race Beth wanted to go one better than round one and set about the opposition from the start, coming through on lap one with a sizeable gap of 1min 40sec.
By lap two this had gone out to 5min and by the end of lap three she had won by over 7 minutes. This now puts her in equal first place in the series but more to the point has again gained selection for GB and she now travels to round three of the World Cup in the Czech Republic and round four in France.
In the Youth race Rosie finished in tenth position, having coped with gear problems throughout the race.
The Czech Republic proved very eventful for Beth as her bike was stolen the night before her race so, riding on Olympic MTB rider Annie Last's second bike, she took to the start line and battled to a brilliant ninth place.
A week later she travelled to La Bresse in France to compete in round four of the World Cup and this time took 15th spot.
All attention now turns to domestic competition where she looks to try and gain selection for the World Championships in September.
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