Pictures by David Perry
Gary Price (Morvello Basso) and veteran rider Karren Summers thrived in the muddy conditions as they took the men’s and women’s victories in the third round of the Lazer Shimano West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League.
A three-week break between races saw the conditions change drastically from the fast opening two rounds to the sticky mud of round three hosted by Stratford CC at Henley-in-Arden.
In previous years the man-made mounds on the grounds of Johnsons Coaches have led to tough but fast racing with tight corners testing rider’s technical skills.
However, a prolonged spell of overnight rain led to muddy conditions which challenged the endurance and running of all the competitors.
With previous round winners Simon Wyllie and Toby Barnes both absent riding the National Trophy round in Cumbria there was to be a new face winning the senior event.
Price timed his effort to perfection and put in consistent laps on his way to victory in the men’s race.
From the starting gun it was Anthony Neave (Stourbridge CC) who set the early pace with Price chasing 20 seconds behind after the opening lap.
League regular Neave increased his margin at the head of proceedings to 38 seconds after the second lap.
However, then Price started pegging him back, catching his rival with two laps to go and then pulling out a winning margin on the last lap.
Behind Robert Burns was in a lone chase for third finishing two minutes behind Neave and over two minutes clear of his nearest chaser.
Junior rider Oliver Baker (Wolverhampton Whls) put in a fine ride to place sixth overall and first in his age category.
Second junior was Josh Field (Halesowen A & CC) while Jacob Jones (Solihull CC) finished third.
Despite starting two minutes behind the senior riders Phillip Glaze (Fishface Cycles RT) worked his way up to fourth overall and veteran 40-49 age category winner.
Glaze had finished second and third in the previous rounds but went one better in Henley-in-Arden.
Behind despite losing nearly a minute to his rivals with three laps to go Simon Stretton (2 Wheels Only) recovered to take second ahead of Nicholas Popham (Rotor Race Team).
The women’s race was also missing the winners from the previous two rounds from the start-line.
A strong second lap from Shropshire rider Summers saw her rider away from her younger opponents to victory in the women’s event.
However, it was Ceris Styler, from Worcester, who got off to the fastest start before Summers powered away through the mud to pull out her winning margin.
Styler did respond and started to pull her rival back but was beaten by 24 seconds at the finish line.
Fellow Shropshire veteran rider, Julie Caddick (Brotherton Cycles) saw off the challenge of
Melissa Baker (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.Com) for third.
“It was ever so muddy and was a bit gruelling,” said Summers.
“The mud was just thick the whole way around and the more it dried up the harder it got. There was quite a bit of running and there was one bank which I had to run up. As the race went on I was running on the drag before the climb too.
“Ceris (Styler) took off in front and I couldn’t keep with her. On the second lap I made the catch but didn’t expect to stay past her. She was gaining towards the end but thankfully the finish came.
“I was just glad to get my bike home as I only had one bike and it got clogged up.”
After finishing second in the series opening round Darren Atkins (Zannata Ride Coventry XGear) proved his skills in the mud by riding away to victory in the veteran’s 50+ age category race.
Winner of the previous two rounds Stephen Knight (Team Jewson-M.I.Racing) could only watch as his rival took the lead on the opening lap and built up a winning margin of a minute and 42 seconds.
Knight finished second a further two minutes ahead of Leon Field (CC Giro).
Max Greensill (KTM UK Factory MTB Team) put in another impressive performance to take a clear win in the under-16 boys’ event.
Harry Cockroft (Malvern Cycle Sport) was the lone chaser in second while Fred Meredith (Hafren CC) finished third.
Rotor Race Team companions Spencer Corder and Lewis Tinsley dominated the under-14 boys’ category with Corder finishing a minute clear of his team-mate, while Oscar Martin (Stratford CC) finished third.
National Under-16 Girls’ Champion Zoe Backstedt (Storey Racing) was lapping a minute a lap quicker than her closest rival to win the girls’ event.
She was chased by leading under-14 rider Hannah Cockroft (Malvern Cycle Sport) in second while Ellie Swingell (Halesowen A & CC) finished third.
Second under-14 girl rider was Mari Porton (Redditch Road & Path CC) while Harriette Taylor (Newport Shropshire CC) finished third.