Roger Hammond returns to the Southampton Sports Centre on January 7th not only to defend the national cyclo-cross championship he won last year, but also to the venue where he took his first Elite title twelve years ago.
Hammond who finished third in the 2004 Paris Roubaix will roll out his new pink T-Mobile colours for the first time on January 7th. Having spent two years with Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel team, Hammond will now be hoping that a new beginning brings back the success that he so richly deserves. The T-Mobile rider will not have it all his own way as one of the strongest fields for many years take on the flat, fast, technical course that is designed to mirror the circuits of mainland Europe.
Commonwealth mountain bike champion Liam Killeen, runner up to Hammond twelve months ago will be out for revenge. Jody Crawforth the superbly talented rider from Berkshire will also be one of the favourites, as should local hero Stuart Bowers. Bowers who races for the Southampton based Hargroves Cycles/Trant squad has made no qualms that a podium position on his local course is his target for the season. With new rules put in place in cyclo-cross, when Bowers has made an appearance in local races to prepare, he has had to start at the back of the field. This has done nothing but enhance his reputation as he blitzes his way through the field to make it to the front, before destroying the competition to win alone.
Helen Wyman the reigning women's champion, has raised her game internationally this winter and is now challenging in the UCI Womens World Cup races. After spending the year racing internationally for the British pro team 'FBUK', Great Britain now has a female cross rider capable of challenging for medals at World level. With the depth of talented young women coming through the ranks, they will all be looking to wrestle her crown away from her.
The veterans and youths fight it out for their respective titles on Saturday 6th January before the main events on Sunday 7th. The elite women's race takes place at 11am while the Elite and Under 23 races kick off at 2.15pm at the Southampton Sports Centre, Thornhill Rd, Bassett, Southampton.