Cameron Mason (Great Britain) took on the top cyclocross racers on the continent at the UEC European Cyclocross Championships and, in the thick, deep mud and pounding rain, came away with the first medal won by a rider not from Belgium or the Netherlands.
Mason finished just seven seconds behind eventual winner Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) and held off the pursuit of Dutch duo Lars van der Haar and Pim Ronhart by a more comfortable margin.
“I’m a bit surprised by the step because I know how much strength we have in British cyclocross right now with Tom [Pidcock] and others,” Mason told Cyclingnews. “But it feels amazing. It feels like my time is coming and this result has been knocking on the door for a few years. The people who know, know and they can see it coming. I’m just really happy to have executed it today.”
The race was complicated by winter storm Ciarán that forced organisers to postpone Saturday’s races to Sunday and churned up the course in Pontchäteau into thick mud with heavy downpours.
Mason’s fourth place in the Koppenbergcross and top 10s in Overijse, Ruddervoorde and the Maasmechelen World Cup and last year’s world championships showed he was pointed in the right direction and, thanks to the UCI points, provided a convenient second-row start.
“In the race it was messy, it was quite hard to put together good laps. After the first lap, I started to do that, I was setting the pace and riding my own race. That happened to be faster than the whole of the chase group.
“That was good because it meant I could focus on myself, I didn’t want to really be battling into corners and all that. That made a difference. Then it was just about managing it and holding it all the way to the end.
“The win wasn’t very far away. Michael was in control but it’s also cool to know he’s just there and that’s the jersey. But for now, I’m just super happy with my silver.”
The British champion expanded on the comments in the post-race press conference, saying the course conditions turned out to be perfect for his skills.
“When I looked at it on Friday, I thought it might be a bit too punchy for me, but every time it rained more I was like, yeah this is good for me, just to bring the speeds down a little bit from 25kph to 20kph, that suits me a lot more if the climbs are more in the saddle with that deep power… You saw how technical it was out there, the riders who made the least mistakes, really it suited them.”
The medal represents another British presence at the…