FOR the second winter in a row, cyclo-cross rider Ian Taylor has Nick Craig in his sights.

Taylor moved up to the over-50 age group in 2022-23 and was looking forward to challenging Craig, who loses about as often as F1 driver Max Verstappen.

However, ill health stymied Taylor’s challenge last winter and the Shibden Cycling Club member from Austwick finished second overall behind Craig (SCOTT Racing) in the National Trophy - a series of six rounds held around the country.

Now, however, after winning the final round of the Yorkshire Points Series at Peel Park, Taylor, who has previously lived in Cononley and Skipton, is looking forward to facing Craig in the National Championships at Falkirk on the weekend of January 13-14.

Healthy and with a good body of results behind him, winning the National Trophy rounds at Thornton-in-Craven, Derby, Paignton and Gravesend to secure the overall title ahead of this weekend’s final round in Bradford at Tong (Craig has been an absentee so far this winter), Taylor is feeling upbeat.

With all the rain that has fallen recently, Peel Park was at its challenging best, with glutinous mud, plenty of running with the bike in tow and treacherous off-camber sections.

Taylor said: “I started steady away, but the course was one of the toughest it has been here.

“I don’t recall running as much as this time. Nick Popham came with me and got in front, but slowly I pulled away, trying to stay upright on the corners and trying to keep the running going at a good speed, and the gap increased to quite a decent size.”

Taylor, who beat clubmate Andy Peace, from Haworth, into second place by 91 seconds, said: “It is funny because you feel like you are not going very fast, even though you are leading, but that is because conditions are so slow and it is all good fun isn’t it?.”

The course was altered before his race on an off-camber section below the promenade to make it safer as riders were sliding towards a large tree.

As for his 2023-24 season, Taylor admitted: “It is going great and, fingers crossed, I haven’t been ill yet, so I have won the Trophy Series with one race to go and came second in the World Masters Championships, which is an awesome result.

“Now I have a showdown with Mr Craig at the National Championships, but I feel I am going better than I have for a while, so we will see.”

A shredded chain on a descent ruined the hopes of Barnoldswick’s Vicky Peel in the women’s race at Peel Park.

The Hope Factory Racing rider said: “I was second at the time, after getting the hole shot (leading from the start), which was a nice change, and then I was something like 10th after my mishap.

“I managed to get back up to fifth by the finish.”

As for the course, Peel said: “It is as hard as it has ever been. It is the wettest it has been and it ended up really claggy by the end.”

On her 2022-23 season so far, she said: “I have been consistent without having any ground-breaking results.”