BRITISH cycling academy and Halesowen A&CC sensation Bethany Crumpton started her 2014 cross country campaign recently with a promising start to the season.

With this being a Commonwealth games year, she was keen to put her name to the fore to gain selection for the England team and with all the other rides from the Scotland and Wales fighting for their selection, competition is fierce.

The first round being down in Essex saw Beth come up against some European as well as domestic opposition where she was to find the pace quick from the start taking the lead and taking control of the contest. As the race progressed she began to move off the front in a group of three riders but then dropped off the pace.

She was able to regain places towards the end of the race, closing in on third, but any ideas of making the podium were quashed with an untimely puncture which dropped her down to an eventual sixth place finish.

Round two moved down to Redruth, Cornwall, last weekend where battle was to resume. With a few notable names missing, but still tough opposition present, she took to the start line eager to put in a good performance. Starting on the front row she shot off the front fighting against former world downhill champion Tracy Mosely to get into the first downhill single track where they were shoulder to shoulder, but with Beth coming out on top. A group of five riders moved away off the front of the race on the first lap and with Beth pushing the pace on the front this was to be whittled down to two by the start of the second lap as she was joined by Kerry MacPhee.

As the race progressed, Beth set about trying to break her break away companion and was to find that she was quicker on the down hill sections which was to be the turning point of the race as on lap three she began to push on the descents and again on the climbs. By lap four she was well clear and riding a very controlled race and looking mature beyond her years and by the end of the race on lap six she had taken her first carrier win in the elite women's category.

This now puts her in second overall in the series and in the spotlight for selection for England for the Commonwealths and now moves on to her world cup campaign in Europe at the end of this month.