Fireman Bell answers the call

BLISTERING pace and desperate chases were the order of the day when the East Anglian Daily Times Cyclo-Cross League got under way at Stevenage with a fast race where riders in the leading quartet could not afford a single mistake or stroke of misfortune.

BLISTERING pace and desperate chases were the order of the day when the East Anglian Daily Times Cyclo-Cross League got under way at Stevenage with a fast race where riders in the leading quartet could not afford a single mistake or stroke of misfortune.

The final sprint was fought out between experienced veteran Gavin Rumbles of Trek UK and London fireman Mick Bell - who got the verdict by the narrowest of margins.

These two, together with Diss & District CC's Ian Newby and Glenn Stanford of API/Metrow blasted off the start line and established an early lead.

Newby was the first to lose contact, his front wheel slipping away from him in a wooded section. Though soon up and chasing at full stretch, he never got back to the leaders “The harder I tried, the more I made a mess of it” he said.

Stanford, three times league runner-up from 2000 to 2003 but making a comeback after a break, lost contact at a log obstacle where riders had to dismount and he was briefly delayed by a lapped rider.

Though Bell and Rumbles had gained only a small gap, Stanford found that his lightly- treaded tyres, though generally good for a dry summer day, lacked grip on corners where the course zig-zagged across parkland, and he could not re-catch the leading pair and finished a minute down.

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The CC Ashwell-promoted event brought cyclo-cross before the public in Stevenage, a town famous for its designed-in cycleway network. The course in Fairlands Valley Park, close to the town centre, frequently doubled back on itself in otherwise long flat runs on mown grass.

These were combined with some highly technical stretches climbing and diving through “hills and holes” among the trees surrounding the park.

It was in one of the holes that Ipswich BC's Dominic Castle had his forks - a high-tech combination of steel, aluminium and carbon - fail during a practice run, resulting in a frightening crash and a visit to hospital.

There was a better start to the season for clubmate and League co-ordinator Tim Butler who finished 10th in the 60 rider senior field, ahead of local veteran rivals Trevor Holmes (Diss & District CC) and Jim Hardwicke from the Suffolk Sandlings-based Plomesgate CC.

A notable fifth place was claimed by Chelmsford junior David Nichols, now in the Glendene CC alongside World Mountain Bike Championship competitor Shaun Hurrell.

In the Youth Category race Matt Cook (Mildenhall CC) fought a duel with VC Deal's Max Sykes, the latter getting the judge's verdict by one second.

Luke Newby (Diss & District), last year's Youth champion, wasn't so quick off the mark but took third place 22 seconds adrift, chased by four Ipswich BC riders led by Tom Castle, followed by Will Meadows, who had a mid-race slip, and Under-14 leader Hugo Robinson.

There was a packed start-line for the Under-12s race in which Sean Dunlea of PCA Ciclos Uno soon established and held a lead over Joe Fry (Welwyn Wheelers).

Lorna Robinson (IBC) survived a tangle with third-placed Jack Hardwicke to take fourth place and to win the Under-10 category.

This Sunday. the second round of the EADT League takes place at Hempton near Fakenham in Norfolk on one of the outstanding cyclo-cross courses in East Anglia - particularly noted for sandy run-ups and dramatic descents into former sandpits on Hempton Common.

First race is at 11am.

Results from Stevenage

Senior race: 1 Mick Bell (Vet) London Fire Brigade 9 laps in 1:01:53, 2 Gavin Rumbles (Vet) Trek UK +0:01, 3 Glenn Stanford (Snr) API/Metrow +1:03, 4 Ian Newby (Snr) Diss & District CC +1:50, 5 David Nichols (Jnr) Glendene CC/Bike Trax +2:09, 6 Anthony Green (Vet) GA Cycles +2:13, 7 Stuart Chatting (Sen) Angliasport +3:16, 8 Andy Roberts (Vet) Evans RT +4:00, 9 Bruce Robinson (Vet) Shaftesbury CC +4:05, 10 Tim Butler (Vet) Ipswich BC +5:03, 11 Trevor Holmes (Vet) Diss & District CC +5:28, 12 Craig Beech (Snr) Interbike RT +5:35, 13 Ben Tinkler (Snr) Loughborough +5:54, 14 Carl Goddon (Snr) Mike Vaughan Cycles +5:58, Jim Hardwicke (Vet) Plomesgate CC +6:31, 9 Adam Keer (Snr) Ipswich BC +6:33, 17 Geoff Bores (Vet) Ford CC +6:38, 18 Mike Auger (Snr) Unattached +6:39, 19 Ben Paton (Snr) Angliasport, 20 Martin Carter (Snr) Unattached +7:14, 21 John Terrell (Vet) Ipswich BC +7:35, 22 Clive Ling (Vet) Diss & District CC +1 lap +0:15, 23 Kieron Dunlea (Vet) PCA Ciclos Uno +1 lap +0:41, 24 Colin Cracknell (Vet) Ipswich BC +1 lap +0:42, 25 Philip Peacock (Vet) St Ives CC +1 lap +1:08, 26 Bob Pisolker (Vet) Finsbury Park CC +1 lap +1:09, 27 David West (Snr) Angliasport +1 lap +1:17, 28 Daniel Hewitt (Jnr) Fat Birds +1 lap +1:22, 29 Chris Gooch (Vet) Team Clean +1 lap +2:04, 30 David Johnson (Vet) Richardson's Cycles +1 lap +3:05.

Under-12: 1 Sean Dunlea (U12) PCA Ciclos Uno 10 laps in 13:22, 2 Joseph Fry (U12) Welwyn Wheelers +0:20, 3 Jack Hardwicke (U12) Plomesgate CC +0:33, 4 Lorna Robinson (Ipswich BC), 5 James Arden (Norwich ABC), 6 Emily Wilkins (U12) Chelmer CC +1 lap +0:05, 7 Tristian Price (U10) Chelmer CC +1 lap +0:21, 8 James Madwick (U12) +1 lap +0:36, 9 Henrietta Colbourne (U10) Fat Birds+1 lap +1:33, 10 Thomas Adams (U12) Mildenhall CC +2 laps +0:03.

Youth: 1 Max Sykes (Yth) VC Deal/Hammonds/Active 4 laps in 29:17, 2 Matthew Cook (Yth) Mildenhall CC +0:01, 3 Luke Newby (Yth) Diss & District CC +0:22, 4 Tom Castle (Yth) Ipswich BC +0:58, 5 William Meadows (Yth) Ipswich BC+1:32, 6 Hugo Robinson (Yth/U14) Ipswich BC +1:45, 7 Robert Green (Yth) Ipswich BC +2:58, 17 Ben Bailey (Yth/U14) Palmer Park Velo +3:07, 9 William Adams (Yth) Mildenhall CC +3:27, 10 Scott Palmer (Yth) API/Metrow+5:10.