Barnes and Harnden triumph in opening round of West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League

Toby Barnes (Lichfield City CC) took his first senior victory of the season by 37 seconds in the opening round of the West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League.
Meanwhile, days after winning a bronze medal in the junior women’s category at the Mountain Bike World Championships Harriet Harnden (T-Mo Racing) clinched victory in the women’s event.
Redditch Road and Path CC organised the first round of the series at the Abbey Sports and Fitness Stadium in Redditch.
Barnes, won three rounds of the series last year including the opener at the same venue and the overall junior series title.
 The under-23 rider led from the start and pulled out a 10 seconds gap on the opening lap from lone chaser Harry Birchill (Mid Devon CC).
The junior chaser kept the gap steady on the technical course which zig-zagged across the sports centre grounds and allowed riders to easily see the race gaps.
Barnes was gaining a handful of seconds each lap which eventually gave him a 37 seconds winning margin.
Behind senior rider Robert Barnes (Islabikes) had a similar battle for third with Samuel Morris (Revolution Racing) finishing 11 seconds clear by the finish.
David Hird (Halesowen A&CC) was second junior with Edward Woodward (The MI Racing Academy) in third.

Toby Barnes on his way to victory in the senior event. Pictures: David Perry

“It was my first cross race of the season so it was good to see how I was going after the road season and a nice test to start the year,” said Barnes.
“I went from the start really hard and had a 10 seconds gap for about half the race which eventually grew out until the end.
“It was a really dry and fast day but the course was also quite technical with some good corners so it was good.
“It’s my first year as an Elite in the National Series as an under-23 so it will be a bit tough but hopefully I can get some top 10 or 15 results.
“I’ve had a good road season and find that the better road season I have the better cross season I also have.”
After a dominant performance in last season’s veteran 40-49 series Darren Atkins (Ride Coventry) had a battle on his hands with Philip Glaze (Stourbridge CC).
The duo who finished first and second overall last season couldn’t be separated throughout the race and Atkins just edged the sprint for victory.
Behind Crispin Doyle (Hargroves-Ridley-Montezuma) took a clear third place.
In the women’s race 17-year-old Harnden, from Malvern who finished fourth in the under-23 World Cyclo-Cross Championships last year took her first cross win of the season on the fast course.

Harriet Harnden on her way to winning the women’s event. Picture: David Perry

However, local rider Bethany Crumpton (Storey Racing) looked to have the beating of the youngster on the criterium style course.
Crumpton took an early lead but lost a minute on the third lap due to a mechanical issue which cost her the victory and despite closing the gap to 14 seconds by the finish Harnden took the win.
Meanwhile Xan Crees (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.Com) put in a solid ride for third.
Verity Appleyard (Brotherton Cycles) was the fastest veteran ahead of Karren Summers in second and Michelle Paget (Rugby Velo) in third.
 Last season’s veteran’s over-50 overall winner Stephen Knight (Team Jewson-MI Racing) led from the front once again to take victory.
Chris Wreghitt (Second Wind) was a lone chaser in second throughout the race while an exciting battle for third took place.
Kevin Payton (Stourbridge CC) clawed his way past over-60 rider Ian Wright (Team Jewson-MI Racing) but the two came back together with Wright edging clear on the last lap.
Under-14 rider Max Greensill (Rapid Racer Products) sprinted to a narrow victory in the youth event despite starting almost a minute behind his older rivals.
Oliver Baker (Wolverhampton Whls) had been a lone leader since the second lap only for a charging Greensill to take 16 seconds out of him on the last lap and sprint to victory.
Jack Fothergill and Alex Barker (Team Backstedt/Hotchillee) were also involved in an exciting finish for second in the under-16 category with the former just edging the sprint.
Spencer Corder (Rotor Race Team) finished second under-14 with Thomas White (Wolverhampton Whls) in third.
In the youth girls race under-14 rider Ellie Swingell (Halesowen A&CC) was locked in a race-long battle with under-16 rider Isla Mason (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.Com).
Swingell had a narrow lead coming into the final lap and kept her position to the line.
Daphne Jones (Mid Shropshire Whls) was second under-16 and Isla Blain (Halesowen A&CC) in third.
Greta Carey (Palmer Park) finished second under-14 while Cerys Greaves (Lichfield City CC) took third.
Ryan Oldfield (Redditch Road and Path CC) recorded a home victory for his club in the under-12 boys while Zoe Parker (Stratford CC) was fastest girl.
In the under-10s Noah White (Mid Shropshire Whls) was the fastest boy and Rose Lewis (Halesowen A&CC) first girl.
Arly Berry (Redditch Road and Path CC) took another home victory in the under-eight boys while Shauna Hamilton (Lichfield City CC) was first girl.
George Berry was fastest under-six while Ivy Gregory was quickest girl.