Ice Station Darley Hosts Midlands Champs

Darley Moor, infamous for having its own microclimate of doom, was unusually bright and dry, however, it was nonetheless Baltic.  The course, as always dictated by the geography of the terrain available  was flat and grassy, with a short stretch of tarmac and the additional feature of ‘The Bank’, which was used to great effect by the course designers to create some drama and a short sharp run up for all. The rest of the course was relatively twisty turny with the addition of hurdles on the flat near the pit area.  Due to the enormous field sizes in the adult races an additional out and back ‘Grass Time Trial’ section had to be added to spread out the riders and lengthen the lap to help with timekeeping.

Amo Waite (Empella) leading eventual winner Ellie Smith (Fossa) in the U16 girls. (Richard Howes Photography)
Amo Waite (Empella) leading eventual winner Ellie Smith (Fossa) in the U16 girls. (Richard Howes Photography)

The first races were the youth boys and girls, with the U16 boys kicking off at the the first whistle, followed by U16 girls, U14 boys and finally U14 girls.
Lewis Askey (RST Race Team) dominated the U16 boys race, leading from the whistle and riding supremely with confidence and skill and finishing over a minute ahead of second placed Marcus Holmes (Litchfield CC).  His teammate Emile Alexander took third, completing a clean sweep for the West Mids in the championship.
Next off were the U16 girls.  Amelie Wayte (Team Empella Cyclo Cross) led from the whistle with a familiar blistering start, close on her heels were Sarah Briggs (Matlock cc) and Ellie Smith (Fossa Racing).  Alice Standish (Bourne Wheelers) was a little way back in fourth.  However near the end of the opening lap Briggs dropped her chain on the hurdles allowing the other two girls to permanently gap her. Amelie and Ellie were locked together for 3 laps then the Empella rider got briefly held up on the banking and the Fossa rider attacked hard on the Tarmac section (hear Ellie in the interviews below).  This was the race winning move with the Fossa rider taking the title and Wayte taking silver. The pair were the only girls to finish on the leaders lap.  In the battle for third, Sarah Briggs took a nasty fall in lap 2, both hurting herself and damaging her bike, Alice Standish (Bourne Wheelers) close behind, overtook and took third place.  To her credit the Matlock cc rider managed to gather herself, change her bike and finish her race in fifth place, outsprinting Maddie Hubner (Team Empella Cyclo Cross) across the line.

The U14 boys title was won by Josh Giddings (The MI Racing Academy), fresh from National Trophy victory at Ipswich the previous week.  Ben Askey (RST Race Team) took second place, a minute and a half behind Giddings closely followed by Bryn Richards of Bourne Wheelers, making this a East/West/Lincs podium.

Finally in the youth category was the U14 girls race, which saw the 8th win out of 8 for Lotta Mansfield (The MI Racing Academy), 40s ahead of the motoring Grace Lister of Wolverhampton Wheelers.  Kinga Ingram (Wyre Forest CRC) was third.

This week’s interviews with Jacob Steed, Lotta Mansfield, Ellie Smith, Josh Giddings and Matt Crouch.

The Veteran men’s field was the largest of the year with huge numbers in both vet 40 and vet 50 categories.  Overall winner and first vet 40 was David Griffths (Mammoth Lifestyle RT). Matt Crouch (Fossa Racing) finished in a fine second place overall and first V45 (hear Matt in the interview).  Dave Allen (Alford Wheelers) was next V40, closely followed by Rick Lister (Team Ford Ecoboost).  The vet 45 podium was completed by Stephen Knight (Team Jewson-MI Racing-Polypipe) and Nick Popham (Naked Bikes RT).

Tim Gould running the bank (Richard Howes Photography)

The vet 50 category saw the welcome return of Tim Gould (Zepnat RT), who, despite, not being gridded, smoothly scythed his way through the field to take the victory. Gould from the promoting club looked in supreme form, so fingers crossed for Bradford.  Second vet 50 was Nigel Gregory (Leicester Road Club) and Mike Welburn (Litchfield CC).

Kirby Bennet (Team Jewson-MI Racing-Polypipe) took victory in the vet 55 category; team mate Ian Wright took second and Kevin Payton (Stourbridge cc) was third.

Dave Fletcher bringing home a dominant win. (Richard Howes Photography)

In the final race of the day, Dave Fletcher (Sherwood Pines Cycles Felt Enve) absolutely stormed to victory in the senior men’s race, he looked like he was riding Tarmac and finished an incredible 3 mins ahead of second senior Jonathan Harper (Argi+8point8-Winter Green) with Luke Grivell-Mellor(JLT Condor) taking third.

George Tompson (Sleaford Wheelers cc) was also in fine form, winning the U23 male category and second overall, from Stan Pritchard (Malvern Cycle Sport) and Ewan Grivell-Mellor (Mid Shropshire Wheelers).

In the closest race of the day, Cameron Orr  (SF Racing) took the Junior Men’s victory in a sprint finish with long term rival Ross Harnden (Malvern Cycle Sports), with Toby Barnes (Litchfield cc) close on their wheels in third.  The three were locked together throughout the race, with the lead ever changing, but no gaps appearing. On the final lap they approached the hurdles in final finishing order, but Orr again opted to bunny hop and hit the first hurdle with his front wheel, knocking it sideways, however, his incredible bike handling enabled him to correct this before landing and taking the second hurdle, it nearly went all ‘Pete Tong’, but Orr then attacked and went full gas to the line, beating Harnden by a mere couple of seconds.

Diane Lee eclipsing the field for another dominant win. (Richard Howes Photography)

The senior women’s race saw anther totally dominant ride from Diane Lee (Cannondale Girls), who took victory over a very strong looking Kate George (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.). The Torq Rider Joanne Clay took third.  Another Empella rider, Tiff Fletcher took the u23 women’s victory, Clem Bird (Nottingham Clarion) took second.  Xan Crees, again of the dominant Team Empella, won the Junior Girls race, with a fine performance again, second was Melissa Baker (Wolverhampton Wheelers), and third Joni Wildman (Nottingham Clarion).

The Vet 40 women’s race was won by Karen Summers (Revolutions Racing), with a very strong ride, placing her in seventh overall. Second and third vet 40s were Lindsey Nell (Team Jewson-M1 Racing-Polypipe) and Helen Dussek (Nottingham Clarion).

Finally, the vet 50 women’s race was won by Maz Heffron (Zepnat RT), making a rare appearance at cyclocross this season and putting in a solid ride and hopefully back ready to build towards the nationals in Bradford.  Hiliary Johnson (Team Empella Cyclo Cross) was second vet 50 and Bridget Jones (Mid Shropshire Wheelers) was third.

With the final race finishing so late on a bitterly cold day, and results taking a little while to process, quite a number of riders were unable to stay for the presentations.  Hopefully you will be able to collect and winnings and/or medals at Bakewell if you are a NDCXL rider.
So Midlands Champs over for another year, and a big thank you to Chris Rowe and family/friends and Julian Gould at Zepnat Cycles who provided prizes and other support bodies, you did an amazing job of organising one of the hardest and largest races to host each year.  I think we are back in Lincolnshire next season, so we will see you all in the flatlands in 2017. Have a Happy Christmas everyone in the cyclocross family.

Report Marianne Heffron

Under 9’s

52 riders took to the start in Under 9 Midlands Championship/ NDCXL rd. 8 at a sunny and very dry Darley Moor. The course was largely flat and in addition to a couple of draggy sections past the pits had a twisting technical section which looked likely to be the deciding factor in this race. Despite a couple of tumbles at the start all the riders eventually got away and the race was on.

Jacob Steed (interviewed above; Bolsover and District CC), the NDCXL league leader, pulled strongly away to lead in to the first turn with his team mate George Cooper (Bolsover and District CC) hot on his heels in 2nd. George appeared to be closing the gap on the second lap before running in to traffic which ultimately ruined any chance of catching Jacob. Meanwhile another BDCC rider Dillon Preece had slipped into 3rd and was chasing George down . As the Bolsover trio crossed the line there was only 20 seconds separating Jacob in 1st from Dillon in 3rd.

Great racing and a pleasure to watch, well done boys.

The girls race had a healthy field of 18 riders and was an even closer affair with only 12 seconds separating 1st and 3rd! Rose lewis (Halesowen A & CC) led from the start and took a fine win and 9th overall with Edie Bott (4Life Tri Club) in 2nd and 12th overall and Merle Snelson in 3rd and 13th overall

Under 12’s

76 under 12’s took to the start line and although a little chaotic during the call up soon settled down in to sensible grid (well done again to the Commissaires).  Luke Harris (Halesowen A&CC) was quickest to complete the out lap and was soon joined by two fellow West Midlands riders in Thomas White (Wolverhampton Whls) and Spencer Corder (Stratford CC). The three boys pulled clear of the chasing field and took it in turns on the front to extend their lead to 36 seconds over 4th place at the flag. It was always going to be a sprint finish with Luke taking the spoils on this occasion, Spencer was 2nd and Thomas 3rd.

The girls race boasted 21 riders which makes it the largest female field this year in an NDCXL hosted event at this age group. Great stuff!

Libby Bell (Leicester Forest CC) was up with the leading boys after the first lap with Harriet Limb (Matlock CC) and Flo Lissaman (Newark Castle CC) locked in an intriguing battle for 2nd some way back. Libby eventually finished a strong 12th place overall and 1st girl with Harriet 2nd girl and 15th overall 48 seconds behind. Flo battled hard all race to keep in touch with Harriet but had to settle for 3rd girl and 16th overall.

Well done girls.

Report: Dominic Limb