Sam Morris returned to his old stomping ground to take a fine solo victory in the 11th and final round of the Lazer Shimano West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League, while veteran Tracey Moseley clinched the women’s honours.
Pictures by David Perry
Aldersley Stadium, in Wolverhampton, played host to the series and once again riders faced a battle against muddy conditions and soft ground on the course which included a mixture of wooded and grassy terrain.
Morris, from Bridgnorth, used to be a regular challenger in the West Midlands league before moving to Loughborough University.
On his first appearance this season he showed his form by riding away from his challengers.
The Loughborough Students Triathlon Club rider eventually pulled out a winning margin of one minute and 17 seconds over the chasers.
Behind Thomas Payton (Stourbridge CC) was locked in an early battle with Jonathan Brain (Mid Shropshire Whls) before riding clear in the latter stages to take second with Brain in third.
“It was very muddy in places and there were two sections where you had to run for a minute,” said Morris.
“The mud was ankle deep at points at least. I had a good start which was surprising and took the lead in the opening half-a-lap.
“I got to focus on riding my own race and not fighting with people which helped. I didn’t feel like I had a big lead and was always a bit worried towards the end that I couldn’t afford to mess up. It was my first West Midlands race of the year as I’ve been on a university placement in Loughborough so I’ve been riding the Leicestershire League.”
In the veteran’s 40-49 age category Nicholas Popham (Rotor Race Team) took his second victory of the season, after also winning at round nine at Baggeridge Country Park.
Popham was pushed throughout the race by visiting rider Nick Whitley (Chester RC) in second while Colin Miller (Ride Coventry) took third.
Oliver Baker (Wolverhampton Whls) took a home victory for the organising club in the junior boys’ category ahead of Ryan Greaves (Lichfield City CC) in second and Matthew Lowe (Redditch Road & Path) finished third.
Veteran rider Tracy Moseley (T-MO Racing) proved her strength in the muddy conditions to take her first senior win of the season in the women’s event.
The former Downhill Mountain Bike World Champion showed her skills to build up an unassailable advantage over the opening two laps before hanging on for victory.
Under-23 rider Melissa Baker (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.com) continued her impressive season with a fine second place finish while veteran Verity Appleyard (Brotherton Cycles) took third.
Quickest female junior rider was once again Isla Mason (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.com) who finished ahead of Molly Lewis (Halesowen A&CC).
“It was brutal actually as the ground was so saturated and there was no hard ground or fast riding,” said Moseley.
“I enjoy it more when it’s technically harder and more slippery although there was a bit more running than I would have liked.
“Having that confidence to let the bike slide and not being daunted by the ups and downs mean I definitely enjoy the conditions more.
“The cross has been a bit of fun after having a baby 18 months ago and the courses are all local and there is lots of racing in this area.
“As the National Championships are so close at Shrewsbury I’ve decided to have a go and see how it goes.”
The veteran’s 50+ category race was a war of attrition with West Midlands Champion Darren Atkins (Zannata Ride Coventry XGear) winning his sixth league round of the series.
He was once again chased by Hereford’s Mark James (Dream Cycling) in second while Philip Roach (Team Jewson MI Racing) rounded off the podium.
A closer battle was in the 60+ age category where Mick Davies (Pedal Power Loughborough) finished just 14 seconds ahead of Peter Turner (Derby Mercury).
The youth boys’ race was once again an exciting battle with a new face at the head of proceedings.
After taking three podiums already this season William Ryan (Solihull CC) showed his form to clinch his first win of the season.
Ryan opened up a 15 seconds gap on the opening lap and held on to his advantage to see off the challenge of Oliver Halliday (Hetton Hawks) while Joe Brookes (Halesowen A&CC) finished third.
Visiting rider Joseph Cosgrove (PH-MAS/Paul Milnes Cycles) was rewarded for the trip south with a victory in the under-14 boys’ category.
Lewis Tinsley (Rotor Race Team) settled for second while Joe Watkins finished third.
In the youth girls’ category Daphne Jones (Mid Shropshire Whls) sealed the under-16 overall title with another convincing victory.
Jones who has been in dominant form this season was unchallenged in her age category.
Another visiting rider to the league Lucy Alsop (Welwyn Wheelers) finished second overall and first under-14 girl, ahead of Zoe Parker (Solihull CC) who rounded off the podium.