James extends his unbeaten run – it could be tight finish

Wetheringsett rider Stephen James heading for the Senior Men’s win. Photo: FERGUS MUIR

Wetheringsett rider Stephen James heading for the Senior Mens win. Photo: FERGUS MUIR - Credit: Archant

At the end of a day of rapidly changing conditions Stephen James (Renvale RT) extended his unbeaten run in the Senior Eastern League with an eighth win – but the Wetheringsett rider is still 100 points adrift of new League Leader Kieran Jarvis and Seb Herrod, who is just six points down on Jarvis. With just three rounds remaining there could be a tight finish to the League, writes Fergus Muir.

Youth riders make light of the climb at Kentford

Youth riders make light of the climb at Kentford - Credit: Archant

Conditions on Sunday started with a heavy frost and a hard frozen course at Phoenix Cycleworks at Kentford near Newmarket.

By the end of the day, during the Senior race, the surface of the course had thawed - to liquid mud in some places, while in others its origin as a sandpit was very much in evidence.

The sound of sand grinding into brake discs could be heard everywhere.

The majority of cyclo-cross competitors are now using disc brakes and Stephen James, with attention to detail that is typical of him, had specially fitted discs with few slots – and so few places for sand and mud to lodge.

Mark Powell (Stowmarket) leading Sam Gibson (Ipswich BC). Photo: FERGUS MUIR

Mark Powell (Stowmarket) leading Sam Gibson (Ipswich BC). Photo: FERGUS MUIR - Credit: Archant

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Their poorer cooling qualities would certainly not matter on this cold December day and the weight penalty was tiny.

James’s brakes lasted his hour-long race – while some competitors completely wore brake pads to nothing in the course of the 40-minute Veteran’s races.

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The Senior Men’s race followed a familiar pattern with James Madgwick (Bloodwise/QSW) leading on the first lap and Stephen James coming through later and eventually opening just over two minutes lead. Jarvis (On Form) held tenaciously on to second place and moved up to the top of the League rankings, while previous top man Seb Herrod, though visibly the fastest on the big climb out of the pit, finished fourth.

Cam Hurst took the Junior prize and is closing on Connor Rumbles who currently heads the Junior League table.

Claydon rider Matthew Day and Jack Parrish from Ipswich were close through the first half of the race, with Day going on to sixth place – his best of the season.

Racing earlier in the day the women did not have the mud and raced over a course only just beginning to thaw. Lauren Higham put in an assured ride to win from Louise Foley. Revelation of the race was Iceni Velo’s Polly Mason who took third place ahead of experienced riders Alison Hogg and Jo Newstead.

Going first, the youngest competitors raced through a landscape white with hoar-frost, Caris Gregory cutting a festive figure in her red West Suffolk Wheelers top as she won the Under-Eights outright. The frost display was already fading when her brother Harley won the Under 12s, holding off Florence Barnett by just six seconds.

First to race on the full course were the Youth (12-15) riders and here the Lee Valley Youth and Welwyn Wheelers competitors made a fine sight streaming up the tremendous climb out of the pit. Max Bolton (LVYCC) won while Ipswich BC’s Josh Boyer was winner of a private battle with Jordan Rumbles that lasted most of the race.

Honington rider Richard Muchmore calmly took the win in the Vets 50-plus, 55 seconds ahead of Dave Copland (Ipswich BC), with Paul Watson (West Suffolk Wheelers) just 12 seconds further back.

The younger vets (age 40-49) faced the most rapidly changing conditions. However the result did not change very much with Forest Side Rider Matt Webber – snowed in at home last week – winning from clubmate Ben Lewis

The Kentford ‘cross was organised by Push Sport/Barford Van Hire and, pursuing their objective of getting people active and participating in sport, Push Sport ran the first of a short series of starter MTB races at Phoenix Bikes the day before the cyclo-cross.

The Series continues at Hadleigh Park, Essex, on Saturday, January 27 and returns to Kentford on Saturday, February 10. It will provide would be an excellent introduction to MTB racing - see www.pushsport.co.uk/aspire


Push Sport cyclo-cross, Kentford - Winners and leading local riders: Seniors/Juniors: 1 Stephen James (Renvale RT) 8 laps in 1:0:18, 2 Kieran Jarvis (CT OnForm), 3 James Madgwick (Bloodwise/GSW), 4 S Herrod (Strada Sport), 5 D Preece (Army CU), 6 M Day (Manningtree BC) 7 C Hurst (XRT/Elmy -1st Junior); Women: 1 Lauren Higham (LIV AWOL), 2 Louise Foley (Cambridge CC), 3 Polly Mason (Iceni Velo), 4 J Newstead (XRT/Elmy), 5 A Hogg (Push Sport); Vets 40-49: 1 Matt Webber (Forest Side Riders), 2 Ben Lewis (FSR), 3 Mike Mooney (Hub Velo), 4 G Davey (Stowmarket & Dist); Vets 50+: 1 Richard Muchmore (Renvale RT), 2 Dave Copland (Ipswich BC), 3 Paul Watson (West Suffolk Whs).

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