George Clark wins Pro Cycle Hire Spring Classic

Gary Freeman (left) and eventual winner George Clark lead at the Pro Cycle Hire Road Race

Gary Freeman (left) and eventual winner George Clark lead at the Pro Cycle Hire Road Race - Credit: Archant

Fergus Muir takes a look at the latest cycling news in his weekly round-up.

Gary Freeman and Sam Allen lead the break through Bicknacre village in Essex

Gary Freeman and Sam Allen lead the break through Bicknacre village in Essex - Credit: Archant

Gary Freeman of the Fast-Test RT may have crawled over the finish line at eight miles per hour – his estimate – at the finish of the 75 mile Pro Cycle Hire Spring Classic, but he took second place and 25 ranking points, more than the winners of many local races.

Freeman, from Elmswell, had joined up with George Clark (Catford CC), Vince Christan (ELV) Nathan Howard (Finchley RT), and Chelmsford Junior Sam Allen in a leading break.

They worked well together and stayed away for over 30 miles in this high-ranking event on the Bicknacre-Woodham Ferrers–Cock Clarks course.

Allen, who is from a triathlon background, was the first to go it alone – attacking on the penultimate climb of the finish hill with eight miles to go.

Colchester Rider Bob Longstaff takes the bunch sprint for 13th overall at the Pro Cycle Hire Road Ra

Colchester Rider Bob Longstaff takes the bunch sprint for 13th overall at the Pro Cycle Hire Road Race - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


His companions decided to let him exhaust himself – a wise gamble as he indeed ran out of steam. Then in a fearless move on the descent through Woodham Ferrers, Clark attacked and Freeman and Christan responded.

The finish was on the narrow twisting climb of Edwins Hall Road, known to roadmen as “Radar Hill”.

Most Read

Clark held on to win, Freeman and Christian used up their last gasps on the climb but staggered across the line to claim second and third places with Allen and Howard also staying ahead of various escapees from the bunch.

These finished in ones and twos – including Orwell Velo’s David Warwick in tenth.

The podium at the Pro Cycle Hire Road Race. L-R Gary Freeman, George Clark, Vincent Christan

The podium at the Pro Cycle Hire Road Race. L-R Gary Freeman, George Clark, Vincent Christan - Credit: Archant

Nearly two minutes after Clark crossed the line Bob Longstaff (Colchester Rovers) won the sprint for 13th place from the remains of the bunch.

Meanwhile, a new Open time trial was promoted by the Diss Cycling Club on their home “10” course along the Waveney Valley from Billingford to Needham and back. Riders were struck by the rolling nature of the terrain, which qualifies for SPOCO – Sporting Course – status, but also by the smooth road surface.

Matthew Senter (VeloVelocity) won in 21:14, just 16 seconds off Zak Carr’s 2003 course record. Second was Mark Arnold (CC Desiragear) who, riding a single fixed gear, cannot have enjoyed the uphill start and downhill finish but nevertheless went round in 21:41.

Third spot went to Leon West of CC Sudbury in 21:46, just one second up on Ben Beynon with Rendlesham rider Stuart Fairweather fifth in 21:54.

There was a head/crosswind on the outward leg, and Wolsey RC’s Steve Cave who was eighth in 21:57 found his deep-section rims a handful on occasion. Top woman was Cindy Berry (BowlFish, 24:38).

Newmarket rider Matthew Smith won the Lee Valley CC 10 based at Six Mile Bottom in one of the fastest times ever done – 18:03. Details are have not yet been made available by the organisers, but other times leaking out include a club record 19:34 by VC Baracchi’s Mark Richards.

Elsewhere, in the second round of the Eagles Criteriums - evening racing at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge Josh Andrews (Morvelo Basso) won from a three-man winning break. Andrews, from Claydon, attacked with two laps to go together with Mark Richards (VC Baracchi) and Peter Blenkinsop (Fast-Test).

Earlier there had been repeated attacks from Catford CC’s Essex-based riders James Jobber and Laurence Kirby, but the field re-grouped. Just before the finish Blenkinsop blew while Matthew Day (TPH) bridged to the leaders and secured third spot.

Jobber won the bunch sprint for fourth with Chris Crabtree taking fifth place riding for the Rob Morse’s Bildeston bike shop, now rebranded as LCUK.

Sophie Wright returned to Hadleigh Park on Thameside for the British round of the UCI Junior Mountain Bike Series and came away with fourth place.

The 18 year-old reigning European Champion was initially disappointed with this – but on reflection is pleased to have been just 35 seconds off a podium place, still less than a month after her five hour heart operation.

Amongst a largely international field Jack Parrish (Ipswich BC) was 15th in the Under 16s.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter