Joe Blackmore and Xan Crees win British Gravel Championships

Young duo topple favourites in Suffolk to claim national titles

Xan Crees lying on the floor after winning British Gravel Championships
22-year-old Xan Cress was in disbelief after the women's race.
(Image credit: X/Kings Cup Gravel Festival)

Joe Blackmore (Team Inspired) and Xan Crees (Team Spectra Cannondale) won the elite men's and women's British Gravel Championships on Saturday. 

The duo, both known for their cyclo-cross skills, were the fastest over five laps through the King's Forest in Suffolk, where the third edition of the event played out under blue skies. 

In the elite men's race, Blackmore led with Ineos Grenadiers rider Connor Swift into the final lap. The 20-year-old, a promising mountain biker, then powered away from the WorldTour pro to claim the title and a British tricolour jersey.  

The elite women’s race came down to a dramatic finale earlier in the day, with 11 riders entering the final lap together. 

At the line, 22-year-old Crees beat reigning champion Danni Shrosbree (Amius / DAS-Handsling) with a bike throw to win the sprint. 

“A photo finish here in Suffolk!” the Kings Cup Gravel Festival posted on X. “But your winner (provisionally) is Xan Crees!”

The result was later confirmed by finish line imagery. 

See more

Sam Culverwell (Dolan Ellesse RT) took the bronze medal in the men's race, while Jane Barr (Velocity 44 RT) earned the same honours in the women's race. 

The 2023 British Gravel Championships form part of the King’s Cup Gravel Festival, which takes place this weekend in the King’s Forest, north of Bury St Edmunds. The elite men and women raced equal distances, both completing five laps of an entirely off-road 15.3km circuit, totalling 75.6km. 

According to the event’s website, the terrain comprised “fast and furious Strade Bianche type sterrato gravel in Suffolk - but without Chianti and the pasta might not be as good”.

Mass participation Gran Fondo events will be held on Sunday, when riders will be able to test themselves over distances of either 40km or 100km.  

Next month, the UCI Gravel World Championships will take place in Veneto, Italy, and are likely to draw a field littered with WorldTour pros. 

The UCI revealed the routes for the championships earlier this week, announcing that the elite men and women will cover differing distances - the former doing 169km, and the latter racing 140km. 

Last year’s inaugural edition marked the first time the Worlds were held. The winners were Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) and Ineos Grenadiers’ sole female rider Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France). 

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1