MALVERN’S Harriet Harnden could not believe her achievement after winning the HSBC UK National Cyclo-cross Championships' elite women’s title for the first time.

The 19-year-old had to dig deep to fend off Bethany Crumpton before making her move on the last lap’s wooded section and riding clear to victory on a muddy Shrewsbury course.

While her competitors had difficulty in the mud Harnden went ahead on the opening lap by using her mountain bike skills to great effect.

However, the experience and running speed of Crumpton through the deep mud saw her catch the Malvern leader with two laps remaining.

But last year’s junior champion dug deep and realised her dreams by moving clear of her rival once again for victory.

“I can’t believe it,” said the T-Mo Racing competitor who also claimed the women’s under 23 title.

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked, this is something I’ve always dreamed of doing but not now, not so young.

“I went off a little bit fast as I was a bit excited and very nervous for this race. I mean it’s cool to race with the elites but it’s tough competition.

“I got a little bit tired and Beth caught me up and I just found a little bit of energy at the end.

"She was a little bit stronger at the running than I was but whenever we were in the woods I was slightly faster and I think my mountain biking got me through the woods.

“I knew if I went into the woods first on the final lap I could open up enough of a gap to get me to the finish and luckily it worked.

“Before I knew it the race was done, it went so fast it was crazy.”

Harnden finished fourth in the Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Valkenburg in 2018 and hopes for another muddy event in Zurich next month.

“If the world championships is that muddy then I’m going to be very excited. It will take me back to Valkenburg so fingers crossed there is lots of mud and rain in the coming weeks for worlds,” added Harnden.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m better at the muddier and soggier races than the dry fast ones so it definitely played to my strengths."

In drier and faster conditions in Shrewsbury the previous day Malvern's Tracy Moseley was second in the veteran women’s age category 40 to 45.