Paul Hopkins to gain another podium at the National Championships.
Merida UK rider Paul Hopkins can already look back onto a rather impressive season by securing the win in the National Points Series for the 3rd year running but that was not it for his medal aspirations for 2012. His target the National Championships at Wasing Park.
Here Paul’s report:
“I was relieved after I heard the final National Points round had been postponed due to the weather the previous weekend as I had just finished a course of antibiotics to get rid of a chest infection, and when I turned up at Wasing for the National Champs on Saturday I felt tired but ok and was looking forward to the race.
Wasing is not a climbers course, but it does offer hard and fast racing. With a great turn out our category boasted a huge field of riders including all the big hitters like Mark Chadbourne, Chris Rathbone, Steve Calland, Simon Willats and the other two national round winners Lewis King and Ian Taylor. While the race preview was very complimentary about me being the man to beat, everyone was here to take the honours and not to just make up the numbers.
The gun went and I hit the front, not a very tactical move but I tried to flex the muscles early to see if I could do some damage on the field and maybe even show some confidence. After a couple of miles I looked back to see five of us were away, a group of all named above bar Willats and Taylor. As we got to the first log drop I managed to get it wrong, right in front of Joolze Diamond and she managed to snap a pic before I took a tumble, nothing serious but certainly a rhythm breaker. I still retained the lead and pushed on and as we came into the arena for the end of the first lap, three riders overtook me and I decided to settle into the group to take a breather. The pace settled briefly and Ian Taylor had managed to bridge the gap and come straight round everyone to take the lead. I felt uncomfortable in my effort even when riding in the group and when Lewis King decided to attack I had no answer. Instead of being the first to react and try to join him I had no option but to stay in the chase group.
Things did not seem to improve either, on the third lap Chadbourne was in the mood to chase Lewis and agreed to work with me to bridge the gap. I was up for it and got on his wheel and Steve Calland was on mine. Chadbourne was riding strong and dropped me so then I was then left chasing Chadbourne. Lewis was gone and Chadbourne had got a good lead on us by the end of the third lap and was virtually out of sight. Taylor then can from nowhere again and was on a charge I jumped and rode his wheel for the entire fourth lap, and at the end of the fourth lap I was in 4th place not where I wanted to be.
The first climb on the final lap I attacked to try to make sure I would at least secure a podium. I made a gap and this gave me confidence and I seemed to find a little more from somewhere, maybe just knowing it was the last lap. I felt like I was going ok and half way round I got a few glimpses through the trees of Chadbourne. Now the challenge was to get second. I caught and passed Mark with about 2 miles to go but had to keep the pressure on as Taylor and Calland was chasing hard. I took 2nd for the Silver medal and recorded the fastest last lap in our race, but still finished 1 min 40 sec down on Lewis King.
An incredible ride with blistering lap times by Lewis and certainly no doubt he deserved the Jersey.”
Well done once again from everybody at Merida UK and good luck for the remaining season.