Nichols wins in Birmingham

CYCLO-CROSSFIRST year Junior David Nichols recovered well from shaky start to put in an outstanding ride to take sixth place in the National Junior Championship cyclo-cross in Sutton Park, Birmingham.


FIRST year Junior David Nichols recovered well from shaky start to put in an outstanding ride to take sixth place in the National Junior Championship cyclo-cross in Sutton Park, Birmingham.

A large contingent of EADT League competitors took part in the two-day series of races. In spite of a large number of entrants from local Midland clubs, Ipswich Bicycle Club took fifth place in the Club Team competition. Marks Tey-based Interbike RT were seventh and Maldon and District CC 19th.

This year's course proved fast and hilly. There were significant lengths of tarmac, a good deal of mossy turf and a rather shorter technical section than usual. Only in this part, where the course dived in and out of a bombhole, around trees and over slippery tree roots, was there much sign of traditional cyclo-cross mud.

The large crowd of spectators enjoyed the bright sunshine, but a strong wind was in rider's faces on the two main climbs, sapping strength from legs and arms.

Nichols, a KEGS Chelmsford student who rides for the Glendene/Biketrax club had earned a front row start in the Junior Championship but did not get his feet clicked into the pedals as fast as his rivals as the field rocketed away from start.

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At the end of a hectic first lap Nichols was in 10th or 11th place. The strong wind encouraged the formation of road-race style groups, riders seeking shelter from each other especially on the tarmac sections. Nichols got up to such a group, worked with it and then got away in company with Michael Butler. Later Butler made a mistake and Nichols - riding wheels and tubular tyres lent by 2006/7 EADT League Champion Shaun Aldous - sped away alone to the finish. Nichols finished 2:04 down on winner Alex Paton (VC Deal), knocking1min 26secs off the gap when Paton beat him in our Regional Championship in Norfolk early in December.

There was disappointment for Hugo Robinson of the Ipswich Bicycle Club who was a contender for Under 14 honours.

Carefully watching his rivals in the big combined Under 14 and Under 16 field, Robinson got ahead of eventual U14 winner Sam Lowe and opened a gap on Jonathon Dibben, who was to be second.

However in a tight spot Robinson touched bikes with Under 16 competitor Joshua Papworth and fell. He was up in a moment but his chain was jammed behind a crank. After it was wrenched free a link proved to be bent and the transmission jumped throughout the long ride to the pits and his spare bike. Robinson was eventually third Under 14 to finish, 1:55 behind Lowe.

Among the Under 16s at the front of the field, IBC's Tom Castle, now master of his egg-beater pedals hurtled into the first corner in second place. However his speed took him onto a wide line and several riders nipped inside. Luke Newby was 10th as the race went through the bombhole for the first time. Newby gradually closed up on Castle and the pair were soon reprising their EADT League double act. Out of the trees for the last time Newby's legs just had the power to take fifth place, one second ahead of Castle and 1:58 down on winner Luke Gray.

Interbike RT rider Jen Ives, from Saffron Walden, was unlucky get an impact puncture a long way from the pits, but still took 9th place, two places higher than in last year's championship. Winner, for the third successive time, was former Eastern League competitor Helen Wyman (nee Saunders).

Roger Hammond, who won the Elite Men's race when it was held in Ipswich in both 2000 and 2002, took the 2008 Championship in a sprint with Liam Killeen. Hammond received the trophy from Cyclo-Cross Commission chairman and Stowmarket resident Ian Poole.

Nathan Miller (53-12 Multisports) was the highest placed EADT League member, taking 20th place, while Shaun Aldous (Interbike RT) was 28th.

The huge entry of veteran riders was split into quite separate races for riders under and over 50.

The 40-49 race was won by Steve Knight (MI Racing). Dave Copland of Ipswich BC who was 33rd in the 2007 mud-slog at Southampton, moved up to 25th place in the sun in Birmingham.

Roy Hunt (Kinesis UK) took the Over 50s race. Tim Butler came through in fourth place at the end of the first lap, but the headwind on the climbs took its toll and the experienced Ipswich rider crossed the finish line in 13th place, glad that his back had stood up well to the shuddering crossings of tree roots that were encountered every lap.

John Terrell (IBC), 47 in the 40-49 race last year, was 22nd in the 50+ this time. John Gabriel from Felixstowe was 25th and EADT League stalwarts Stuart Hocknell and Brian Foster finished 54th and 59th respectively.

On Sunday local cyclo-cross competitors will be travelling to Derby for the fifth and final round of the National Trophy Series. A good result for Hugo Robinson could secure the Under 14 series win for the 13 year-old Ipswich BC rider.

On the following Sunday, the 20th, the EADT League resumes with Colchester Rovers' promotion at Furze Hill, Mistley.

Results from the National Cyclo-Cross Championships, Sutton Park 6/1/2008 :

Elite: 1 Roger Hammond (Team High Road Sports) 56:13; 20 Nathan Miller (53-12 Multisports) @5:30; 28 Shaun Aldous (Interbike RT) @6:18; 54 Ben Spashett (XRT/Elmy) @1 lap.

Women: 1 Helen Wyman (Swift Racing) 40:18; 9 Jen Ives (Interbike RT) @ 6:23.

Junior: 1 Alex Paton (VC Deal) 36:47; 6 David Nichols (Glendene/Biketrax) @2-04.

Youth (Overall) 1 Luke Gray (Hargroves Cycles) 30mins 44 secs; 5 Luke Newby (Diss & District) @1:57; 6 Tom Castle (Ipswich BC) @ 1:58; 13 Matt Cook (Mildenhall CC) @2;55; 29 Hugo Robinson (Ipswich BC) @4:45: 34 Will Meadows Ipswich BC) @5:34.

Youth (Under 14): 1 Sam Lowe (Go-Sport) 3 Hugo Robinson (IBC) 17 Josh Green (Glendene), 21 George Wood (Maldon & District).

Veterans 40-49: 1 Steve Knight (MI Racing); 25 Dave Copland (Ipswich BC) @4:48; 26 Gary Wood (Maldon & District) @ 6:15; 54 Kevin Dunlea (PCA Ciclos Uno) @ 8:28: 65 Mark Wyer (CC Ashwell) @ 1 lap.

Veterans 50+: 1 Roy Hunt (Kinesis UK) 40:16; 13 Tim Butler (Ipswich BC) 3:19; 22John Terrell (IBC) @ 5:31; 25 John Gabriel (Hinckley RC) 6:43.

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