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With a recent spate of illness and injury Mondraker UK have bounced back to clench a triple podium at the South West Champs in Newnham Park this past weekend. With Expert rider Dexter Hurlock taking the win to grab the South West Champs with team mate Stephen Hodge completing the podium in 3rd Brendan Murphy rounded off the day grabbing 2nd in the ever jam packed Vets field.

Newnham Park has long been the home of Cross Country racing in the Southwest housing two world cup rounds here 15years ago where a rider called Cadel Evan's took the wins (you might have heard of him). It's also the home of the legendary TwentyFour12 endurance race and a handful of domestic races throughout the year.

The course was designed by the Hortons of Fully Sussed who are quickly gaining a great reputation for knowing how to put together an XC race which is able to test all levels of rider. The SouthWest Champs course was no exception to this. With the course starting in the main grass arena heading right into the Shred Splitter before emerging halfway up the Pipeline Return. Here the course topped out before heading into the Bear Pit a suitably named section of the course which is essentially an off camber and steep 60seconds of triple arrow descending which if you've ridden a Horton designed track before you know they don't use triple arrows unless they really need to. The track emerged at the bottom of the valley before quickly wrenching its way up a steep climb to the top of the Cottage Run leading right down it avoiding the hairpin left hand bend in favour of flying across the field before riding into the Plantation singletrack. After the Plantation the course wound its way back to the arena via 2 river crossings the singletrack by the river and a steep grass climb which would appear was thrown in just for the hell of it.

Stephen's Race (Elite):

Being mixed in with the Experts for the South West series, Stephen found himself up against a strong field of Expert riders all wanting to tread on the only Elite in the race. Having had an interesting rookie year in Elite so far Steve approached this race with the sole aim of having fun instead of worrying about getting a good result (although obviously remembering it was still a race). Putting in a strong start Steve found himself in a strong 4th place where he stayed throughout the race loosing time to 3rd but putting in the same amount of time to the rider in 5th. Riding a safe race sticking well within his and his bikes abilities he managed to luck out with 2nd placed rider Isaac Pucci picking up a terminal puncture on his 4th lap pushing Steve onto the podium.

Dexter's Race (Expert):

With a great season already under Dexter's belt one of his goals for this year has been to add the South West Champs title to his achievement list. With a steaming start launching him right into first all Dexter had to do was stay put. However he quickly found himself with company in the form of fellow Expert rider Isaac Pucci the two of them hammered out 3 great opening laps making a good gap on the rest of the field until Isaac picked up a puncture, being the gentleman he is Dexter handed Isaac his spare gas can before promptly riding off. With Isaac's tyre written off all Dexter had to do was stay upright to get the win which he achieved with a comfortable 3min cushion over James Porter in 2nd and 6min lead over fellow team mate and now Ex South West champ Stephen.

Bren's Race (Vet):

With the weather closing in for the afternoon the track conditions also started to deteriorate resulting in slightly longer lap times and a number of the tricky lines being written off. As with Dexter, Brendan's eyes this season have been firmly set on the South West champs title. This year Brendan's main rival Pete Dawe hasn't been on top form… typically until this race! From the off Brendan found himself in 2nd place behind Dawe and remained there throughout the race, comfortably staying ahead of 3rd place finisher Mark Spratt but frustratingly unable to catch the once again on fire Dawe. Here's what Bren had to say on the race: "2nd to an on fire Dawe is a great result, I'm happy with how I rode today clearing all the technical sections thanks to my Mondraker Podium's great handling".

With a great weekend behind them the team head up to Wales for the final round of the Welsh XC series where they're hoping to build upon this momentum. All photos thanks to Naomi Hodge.

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