Grass track racing returns to Ipswich

Ipswich Bicycle Club introduced grass track cycle racing to their home town when they promoted rounds of the National Endurance and Short Distance Grass Track Leagues at Sprites Lane School.

The day culminated in the eight kilometre endurance race won by Richard Lambert of Cottingham Coureurs after he had broken clear of the field with team mate Matthew Fenton and Phil Lisher of Team Welwyn. Was there a race plan I asked Lambert, thinking of 2 to1 tactics.

“Ride fast” said the bluff Yorkshireman

The first big split came with 18 laps to go of the 34 lap race, when Phil Hetzel (IBC) and Nathan Miller (XRT/Elmy Cycles) put the hammer down at the front. At the end, Lambert led at the bell and Lisher’s attempt to come round the outside were to no avail.

The first final of the day – the devil-take-the-hindmost – was dominated by Max Pendleton, father of Olympian Victoria, who won by riding at the front for the whole race.

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Ipswich man Tony Wilkins (Team Endura) overhauled the field to win the handicap from Sarra Boyd (Mildenhall CC) who herself took both the women’s events.

Noise overhead came first from an overflying WW2 Spitfire and then from an impending thunderstorm. Organiser and Elmy Cycles proprietor Steve Grimwood promptly selected the Unknown Distance race from the programme and rang the “one lap to go” bell when the first raindrops fell. Winner was Team Welwyn man Phil Lisher, from Matthew Fenton and Ipswich BC’s Hugo Robinson.

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Grass-track is a form of off-road racing that needs little more in the way of facilities than a reasonably smooth school playing field, and the importance British Cycling attaches to it as entry-level cycle sport was reflected in the presence of a full-time BC staffman observing the meeting.

Steve Grimwood had a win himself at the previous day’s Letchworth grass meeting – in the 800m handicap. Hugo Robinson (IBC) won the Under 16 block handicap from a large field while Sarra Boyd took the ladies’ 400 and the senior devil. Sarra’s father Pete Whelan (Plomesgate CC) had a less happy afternoon – he was stung by a bee that got caught up in his helmet

Results –Ipswich BC Grass Track:

8km: 1 Richard Lambert (Cottingham Coureurs), 2 P Lisher (Team Welwyn), 3 M Fenton (Cottingham Coureurs).

800metres (National Series) 1 Phil Lisher (Team Welwyn) 2 N Withington (VC St Raphael), 3 M Fenton (Cottingham)

Handicap: 1 Tony Wilkins (Team Endura), 2 Sarra Boyd (Mildenhall CC), 3 Amy Willoughby (Cottingham Coureurs).

Devil: 1 Max Pendleton (Mildenhall CC), 2 A Keer (Ipswich BC), 3 P Lifford (Becontree Whs).

Unknown Distance: 1 Phil Lisher, 2 M Fenton, 3 H Robinson (Ipswich BC).

Women’s 800m: 1 Sarra Whelan (Mildenhall CC), 2 A Willoughby (Cottingham), 3 K Lifford (VC Nottingham).

Women’s Unknown Distance: 1 Sarra Whelan, 2 A Willoughby, K lifford.

* Mike Auger of VC Norwich won Colchester Rovers Abberton Road Race around and across Abberton reservoir. Auger, Basil Moss (Cambridge CC) and Graham Galvin (East London Velo) had sustained a fragile lead for over thirty miles of the 64 mile race near Colchester. In the last miles a few riders bridged the gap to strengthen the break but still the bunch was bearing down on the leaders.

“I couldn’t afford to wait” said Auger

With a few hundred metres to go he went for it – and held on by a whisker.

Leading local finishers included Trevor Ormes (Velo Schils,8th), David Brown (Essex Roads, 13th) Ben Wright (VC Revolution, 16th) and Gavin Moore((Stowmarket & District, 22nd).

* Fourteen Stowmarket & District members took part in the 117 mile Dragon Ride sportive taking in the Brecon Beacons and some of the South Wales coast.

* Suffolk members of Team Pedal Revolution had a disappointing day at the National Championship 25. On a sticky morning Mark Arnold felt overgeared on his 111 inch fixed gear, finishing 17th in 54:39, while Nino Piccoli, pushing it to the limit on a tight roundabout, fell and retired. However team member Andy Bason won the 40-44 age group with his 53:19 ride, Winner was Michael Hutchinson in 49:34.

*Two points of note concerning time trials – entries close on June 15th for both the National Championship and Tricycle Association 100 mile events at Attleborough on July 11th, and Colchester Rovers 50 on April 25th has proved, as some riders suspected at the time, to have actually been 49.5 miles.

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