Race report R4 – Alfreton

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Classic Alfreton ‘cross (photo Steve Minshull)

Belper CC presented riders with a slightly amended Alfreton course, not as fast as usual but difficult to master with varying grip on every corner.  Mud up in top field and some water-logging on the descent from the pits would add to the fun.  Good comments were received on some changes made to the course in particular to break up the long climb up to the first wood section and adding a few tighter turns, making it harder for the road riders carrying fitness into the cross season to pull out a gap on the long drag from the off-road riders. This was probably added to by the muddier course we’ve not seen at Alfreton for a few years.

U16 Girls
Amelie Wayte (MI Racing Academy) straight into the lead on the sprint from the start, closely followed by Sarah Briggs (Matlock CC). After 2 laps these rides were still together and working hard pulling away.These two would stay together for the first two laps of the race with, by the bell lap Amelie had pulled out a gap of over 10 seconds and would grow that to just over 20 seconds, securing the win and Sarah in second place from Ellie Dilks (Cycle Derby CC) in 3rd place.

U14 Girls
Libby Bell (Leicester Forest CC) took the lead with Holly Bailey (Heanor Clarion CC) in second place riding strongly after two laps. These placings would last until the end of the race; Harriet Limb (Matlock CC) would take 3rd place.

Annabel Parker (Matlock CC) sprinted with Codie Strickland (VC Long Eaton) further down the field made some extra excitement for the spectators with a close sprint up the hill to the flag.

Alec Gregory, ranked 9th nationally, lined up on the front row with a host of Derby Mercury and MI Racing riders. A fast start sprinting up the hill from the start saw a Alec Gregory (Pedal Power Loughboro) going straight into the lead. After 1 lap that lead had opened up to over 29 seconds with Joshua Giddings (MI Racing Academy) and Jack Brough (MI Racing Academy) in persuit. This gap would only open during the race.Joshua Giddings was alone in second at the bell, about 41 seconds back from the lone leader. Meanwhile, by the time the finish line was approaching, Ben Chilton (Derby Mercury RC) had joined with Jack Brough and would sprint for 3rd place up the final drag, clinching the last podium place.

Next grouping were a good mix of local clubs. A fast start saw Chris Hilbert (Sherwood Pines Cycles) straight into the lead, repeating the fast start in the U16 race. Like the u16s, Chris would lead from gun to flag, extending his lead over the 4 laps.

Into the race and Will Longden (Matlock CC) sat in 2nd with Fred Shenton-McQueen (Bestow RC) and Alex Galpin (Bourne Wheelers CC) battling each other for the last podium spots. No-one seemed to be making any impression on the lead of Chris Hilbert.

This is the way things would stay until the end of the race.


Zepnat and Fossa take 4 of the first 5 places off the start (photo: Mick Bown)
Zepnat and Fossa take 4 of the first 5 places off the start (photo: Mick Bown)

At the charge from the gun, it was Zepnat, Fossa, Fossa, Zepnat stringing it out right from the off, heading up the hill through the shortened start section.

James Bryan (Zepnat.com RT-Lazer helmets), Lee Shunburne (Fossa Racing), Danny Alexander (Zepnat.com RT-Lazer helmets) at the end of the first lap. Matthew Crouch (Fossa Racing) was riding alone in second place.

James, Dan and Lee still formed the leading group after 2 laps with a big gap now opened to Matt alone in 4th then Mark Stanley (Pedal Power Loughboro), Rich Edge (Nottingham Clarion CC) and Neil Halliday (RAMcc) battling close together for 5th spot. Matthew Hall (Zepnat.com RT-Lazer helmets) was alone in 8th place with another small group in persuit down the hill past the pits. By now the course was starting to cut up and the corners get slick, particularly down the hill past the pits towards the bottom wood section.

These 3 riders stayed together with Matt still trying to chase them down but after 33 minutes of racing Dan Alexander had been dropped from the lead group, with a nice rut forming on one of the tight and slippery downhill corners. Matt was holding 4th, with Mark Stanley (Pedal Power Loughboro) in 5th pursued by Neil Halliday (RAMcc).

With the race drawing to a close, the top 4 riders were now separated out. Alone heading towards the bell, could anyone stop stop Lee taking another round of the NDCXL this year? James Bryan was on his own in second and a big gap to the next rider Dan Alexander in 3rd place.

Matt Crouch was having a lonely ride heading toward taking the last lap bell.

Nope, no-one could stop Lee taking another win, James Bryan still in 2nd place and Dan Alexander in 3rd at the end of the race. Matt Crouch was still alone in 4th, having closed up the gap to 3rd place over the last two laps but had run out of time to make the catch.

Nigel Gregory (Leicestershire RC) in the lead up the hill from the gun. With Pete Middleton (Zepnat.com RT-Lazer helmets) in pursuit.  At the end of the first lap that had reversed to be Pete Middleton in the lead with Nigel Gregory chasing.

Pete Middleton was comfortably out in the lead after 3 laps of racing. Nigel Gregory then Nigel Smith (Argi+ 8point8 – Winter Green) were together down the hill from the pits. As the laps progressed the corners down the hill to the bottom woods got ever more tricky with a couple of riders finding that out to their cost.

Nigel Smith had now taken second place, Nigel Gregory and Michael Davies (Pedal Power Loughboro) were locked together in a battle for 3rd and the bikes were visibly starting to pick up mud. The jet washers could be heard in action across the course!

Pete Middleton in the lead by a good margin in the v50 event, with only a mechanical able to change that heading towards the bell lap and pulling out that gap back to second and third slowly but surely.
Nigel Smith was still in second place and Nigel Gregory had consolidated third place. A very comfortable win for Pete Middleton having led from gun to flag.

NOTE – A few riders were late for gridding in the Vet’s event and missed their place. Please be at the start for gridding!

Seniors / Juniors / Women 

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Senior and U23 winner Cameron Orr showing the skills that earned him 4th place in the MTB Worlds in Cairns last month (GB Team competion; photo Steve Minshull @steve_minshull)

After the preceding events, the challenge presented by route plotted around Alfreton Park had been dialled up by the numbers of riders who had already enjoyed the course.

Cameron Orr (SF Racing) lined up on the front row and took the lead on the charge up towards the first right-hander at the top of the hill. Chris Metcalfe (Fabric Cycling) sprinted hard up the hill to take second place. Cameron and Chris kept a small gap between them over the course of the first lap and immediately started increasing the lead over the chasing group. The pair battled for the entire race with sharing the lead but Orr just had more in the tank and kept the punishing pace going to pull ahead in the later stages of the race.

At half distance, the roots in the middle woods having been exposed and stripped of bark by the preceding vets race had become slick and treacherous. There were plenty of reports of riders coming to grief through that section. The increasingly loose and muddy conditions on the climb were also making for plenty of challenging corners up and down the hill, sideways action and front wheels lost. Being able to quickly dab your inside foot on a corner would be an essential skill for riders at all levels throughout the field. Cameron Orr was still in the lead, demonstrating both his speed and bike handling skills maintaining momentum through the corners. He was very closely followed by Chris Metcalfe in second place and Kieren Brown had opened a small gap to be alone in third place.

Will Gascoyne had also been caught by the leading Junior rider Tom Dussek (Nottingham Clarion CC) after three laps of racing, and those positions would still be the same after 4 laps with a chase to make the podium. Alan Duncan (Jakrabbit)joined them heading for the last lap bell.

Heading for the finish on the last third of the course, Kieren Brown was in 4th place on his own just before the last wooded section.

After the first full lap of the race, Kate Eedy (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross) was the first female rider followed by team mate Xan Crees running as first Junior Woman and second female overall. Tiffany Fletcher, also of Team Empella Cyclo-Cross was riding in 3rd and Maddi Smith (Bolsover & District CC) in 4th, also the first veteran woman.

Tracey Fletcher, resplendent in the UCI Veteran’s World Champion strips was the next female rider, leading the v50F category.

After 3 laps, Kate Eedy had a comfortable lead in the Women’s competition, Maddie now in second place with Xan Crees for company, negotisting the muddy corners of the decent and demonstrating their considerable bike handling skills.

Behind, Empella mother and daughter team-mates Tiffany and Tracy Fletcher were now racing together. Tiffany slowly pulled out a few seconds and would extend the gap to nearly 20 seconds by the end, Sarah Lomas dividing them.

With 1 to go Maddie was now riding alone, Xan still a few seconds back in 3rd place but fading as the veteran rider increased her pace on the last two laps to secure 2nd place overall.

Under 9s

53 riders took to the start line at a slightly moist Alfreton Park for Round 4 . The tight technical corners caught a few of the younger riders out during the sighting laps as did the severity of the finish line hill!
Jonah Hearn (Lichfield City CC)  took the hole shot yet again closely followed by the rest field up the hill. Jonah extended his lead expertly through the twisty section with team mate Louis Inman and Bolsover and District CC rider Alfie Steed only a couple of seconds down by the end of lap 1. The three leading boys maintained their form and concentration to finish in this order after 3 laps. They were closely followed by two extremely talented girls Lottie Lissaman (Newark Castle CC) and Merle Snelson (Team Milton Keynes) who pushed the boys all the way and were lapping within a couple of seconds of them!
Merle was  in second place overall for much of lap1  after a blistering start and was only caught and overtaken by Lottie at the end of the 2nd lap.
 a great battle ensued with Lottie claiming the girls win by 20 seconds from Merle and an amazing 4th place overall. Lauren Oldfield (Redditch Road and Path CC) was a further 30 seconds back in 3rd place.
Under 12s
This week saw the return to form of last years Under 9’s league runner up Jacob Steed (Bolsover CC).
After missing last weeks race through sickness and breaking a couple of bones over the summer it was no surprise to see Jacob’s determined streak return at Alfreton.
After a strong start from Seb Varley (Derby mercury RC) and Jude Du Toit (Bolsover and District CC) Jacob hit the front and simply rode away from the rest of the field.
A couple of slips from the chasing pack further distanced the leader although George Cooper (Pines Cycles ENVE) battled hard to keep Jacob in sight and finished a strong second only 20 seconds back with Ryan Oldfield (Redditch Road and Path CC) 10 seconds behind George in 3rd place.
In the girls race current league leader Grace Longden (Matlock CC) had tough competition for the first time this season from visiting rider Aelwen Davies (The Bulls).
These two were locked together for the first couple of laps before Grace began to fade and Aelwen maintained her form to finish first girl and 9th overall. Grace finished 30 seconds behind in 2nd place and 14th overall with Evangeline Kininmonth (Derby Mercury RC) in 3rd.