Pictures by David Perry
Thomas Payton surged clear of his Stourbridge CC team-mate to clinch victory in the men’s event at round eight of the West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League, while Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) stormed round her home course to take the women’s honours.
A new course at Leigh Sinton Farm near Malvern was created with the help of Richards and her family along with members of Malvern Cycle Sport.
The event also received the support of Richards’ sponsor Red Bull.
The new circuit was a described as a ‘traditional cross course’ by riders and the soft ground made for hard conditions which circled around the venue’s pools and through a wooded section before tackling some technical descents.
Mountain bike professional Richards was at home on the terrain taking victory by almost three minutes.
Meanwhile the men’s event was a battle until the very end with Payton going head-to-head with team-mate and round six winner Anthony Neave.
Neave set the pace from the outset and was initially joined at the head of the race by Gary Price (Morvelo Basso).
Price fell away by the mid-way point and Payton, who recovered from an early crash, pulled back up to his team-mate.
The pair were evenly matched until the final lap when Neave fell after colliding with Payton’s bike change in the pits.
Payton waited for his team-mate to remount before the pair went head-to-head in the boggy wooded section.
It was Payton who proved the strongest and he rode clear to clinch victory with Neave second and Price third.
Despite starting a minute behind the senior riders leading veteran 40-49 James Thompson (Magspeed Racing) stormed his way through the field for fourth overall and clear category winner.
A close battle for second veteran saw Colin Miller (Ride Coventry) edge out Philip Glaze (Fish Face Cycles RT) in a sprint finish.
Meanwhile Josh Field (Halesowen A&CC) was leading junior finishing ahead of Ryan Greaves (Lichfield City CC) in second and Oliver Baker (Wolverhampton Whls) in third.
“It was a brilliant course and a proper cross course as I’d like to call it,” said Payton.
“There were some good drop offs and some running as well, planks, you name it, it had it all really. I went off into the second corner (from the start) way too fast and just went out. Luckily, I came out of that crash still within the top ten, but I had a lot of chasing to do.
“I cut my knee a bit so it took a while to get back into it. But it was one of them courses where as long as you keep within a good rhythm and plug away at it you tend to peg people back which I did.
“Luckily it was in time with two laps to go to fight it out for the win.”
Speaking about the battle with Neave on the final lap, Payton added: “It was my fault and I messed up the pit change a little bit and we clattered a little bit.
“So I sort of waited for him to be honest as I felt a bit bad for taking him out in the pits. Then we went into the woods fair and square really and he caught a tree on one of the really slippery bits and I put the power down and got enough of a gap to hold it for the rest really.
“I wasn’t expecting a win at all this year as we had a baby in the summer, little Ted, so it’s good to be just riding to be honest.
“It’s nice to get a win I wasn’t expecting that.”
Returning after a short break from the sport Richards put on another masterclass in the women’s event to take a fine victory.
Richards finished third in the Waterloo Cyclo-Cross World Cup earlier this season and is preparing for her first assault on the Elite Women’s Cyclo-Cross Championships later this cross season.
In the Worcestershire mud close to her home Richards was in emphatic form building up a one-minute lead on the first lap over another local legend and mentor to cross riders Tracy Moseley (T Mo Racing).
Veteran rider Moseley was a lone chaser in second overall finishing almost three minutes behind Richards and over two minutes in front of third place finisher Ceris Styler.
Meanwhile, Isla Mason (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.com) took a convincing win in the junior women’s category ahead of Molly Lewis (Halesowen A&CC) in second.
“I just love the cross bike and it’s so nice to be racing in one so close to my house as well, it’s perfect,” said Richards.
“My dad, my coach and two of my friends organised it and Red Bull have done so much for me this year and it’s always a cool event when they come along.
“I asked if they want to come and they bought the van and stuff so it just feels like all my family are together in one place.
“I walked the course with my dad a couple of weeks ago and made some tweaks. It’s such a cool course and to have such a muddy race but to be able to stay on one bike and ride predominately most it, it’s a really good course to practice skills.”
Hereford-based Mark James (Dream Cycling) followed his National Trophy podium place the previous day with a convincing victory in the veteran’s over-50 age category.
James won several rounds of the series last year and the West Midlands Regional Championships in the category.
On this occasion he pulled out an advantage of 14 seconds after the opening lap and increased his advantage lap on lap to win by over a minute.
Regular series winner Stephen Knight (Team Jewson- MI Racing) was left chasing in second while Leon Field (CC Giro) placed third.
Meanwhile, Chris Watts (Matlock CC) was the quickest veteran over-60.
In the youth category Ben Askey (RST/Cycle Division RT) continued his winning run to take the under-16 boys’ victory.
Askey, who has been pushed all the way at times this season, put in an emphatic performance to win by almost two minutes at Leigh Sinton.
Host club rider Harry Cockroft (Malvern Cycle Sport) finished second while Sullivan Berry (Redditch Road & Path CC) rounded off the podium in third.
After finishing fifth in the Under-14 National Trophy the previous day Oscar Martin (Stratford CC) was a new name on top of this season’s series podium.
Regular winner Spencer Corder (Rotor Race Team) had to settle for second ahead of team-mate Lewis Tinsley.
In the girls’ events Daphne Jones (Mid Shropshire Wheelers) continued her domination of the series and finished over a minute clear of her nearest rival.
Once again it was the under-14 riders who chased Jones led by local rider Hannah Cockroft (Malvern Cycle Sport) in second while Mari Porton (Redditch Road & Path CC) took third.