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Cycling: Suffolk’s Renvale RT squad claim a double at Cyclo-Cross Championship

Stephen James (Renvale RT) from Wetheringsett, wins at Welwyn. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Stephen James (Renvale RT) from Wetheringsett, wins at Welwyn. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

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The Suffolk-based Renvale RT were double winners at the Eastern and South Eastern Regional Cyclo-Cross Championship at Welwyn Garden City, writes Fergus Muir.

Suffolk's senior winner Stephen James climbing at Welwyn. Picture: FERGUS MUIR Suffolk's senior winner Stephen James climbing at Welwyn. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Team boss Stephen James won the Senior Men’s title while member Richard Muchmore took the Veteran’s 50-plus Championship.

Also - looking further afield - another team member, Richard Jones, was Senior Champion in Central Region – the British Cycling area adjoining ours to the west.

For James it was a special moment as he had firmly set his sights on regaining the crown he had first won in Kent in December 2014.

As the Senior field at Welwyn sorted itself out, a group of three went clear off the front with Alec Briggs (unattached) and Michael Butler (Hargroves Cycles) leading James, who had a couple of minor mishaps getting his feet clipped back in after the hurdles.

Each time James rejoined Briggs and Butler and about 25 minutes into the one hour race James gapped them and never looked back - eventually winning by 1:15 from Briggs, who just outsprinted Butler.

James felt that the course, which included long fast stretches over grass, suited him well, and that, given his heavy work schedule, he had benefited by not trying this year to fit in a National Trophy challenge as well.

The circuit climbed up the valley-side from the sailing lake at Stanborough Park – a whole landscape created by gravel extraction for the construction of the A1(M) motorway.

There was a pair of rather high hurdles, craftily set on the uphill approach to the main zig-zags. The reverse camber turns on these slopes were expected to be big challenge, but the surface proved to have plenty of grip, and most competitors had little trouble – leaving straight-out power the deciding factor.

Vets50+ champion Richard Muchmore at the hurdles in Welwyn. Picture: FERGUS MUIR Vets50+ champion Richard Muchmore at the hurdles in Welwyn. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Fourth place among the Seniors went to Pedal Power Ipswich rider Dougal Toms who proved fastest of the first of several chasing groups.

Other local riders finishing on the same lap as the winner were Seb Herrod (Strada Sport), eighth 3:57 down, and Lloyd Chapman (XRT/Elmy Cycles) 10th at 5:03.

Best performance by a local rider in the Women’s categories was fourth in the 40-plus women by Jo Newstead (XRT/Elmy Cycles). The Women’s Championship was won by Helen Pattinson (Hargroves/ Montezuma), the chocolate entrepreneur racing again just two days after winning the World Masters title for the 40-45 age group.

Taking the Junior title and second overall was Elspeth Grace (Welwyn Whs) with Laura Higham, seven times an Eastern League winner this season, third overall and second Junior.

Renvale RT’s second win came from Honington rider Richard Muchmore in the Vets 50-plus. With Jimmy Piper laid low by a heavy cold, Muchmore made an uncharacteristic early attack, being glad to choose his own racing line on surfaces that proved unusually variable, and won by 1:13.

Next local riders were Dave Copland (Ipswich BC, fourth) and Mike Bowen (West Suffolk Wheelers, ninth)

In the same race Seb Herrod’s dad Nigel won the third prize in the Vets 60- plus category.

Fast Test Junior Freddie Grover hit form at the right time, leaving Eastern League rivals behind take the third step of the Junior podium, which was topped by Oliver Howson (PH-MAS). Chelmer CC’s Chester Tribley and Harry Shingleton (West Suffolk Wheelers) raced closely throughout with the Chelmsford rider clinching their private race with a fast last lap.

Mike Bowen - top veteran from West Suffolk Wheelers in Welwyn. Picture: FERGUS MUIR Mike Bowen - top veteran from West Suffolk Wheelers in Welwyn. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Oli Partner was best of the Colchester Rovers Youth riders, finishing 50 seconds up on clubmate Daniel Hall. Harley Gregory was top local finisher in the Under Twelves, getting the better of Eastern League rival Dylan Starkey (Welwyn Wheelers) who had an untimely fall late in the race.

Other winners included Geoff Bores (Vets 60+), Iona Moir (U16 Girls), Oliver Stockwell (U16 Boys), Anoushka Minale (U14 Girls), Caelen Miller (U14 Boys), Carys Lloyd (U12 Girls), Alfey Amey (U12 Boys), Anna Lloyd (U10 Girls), Oliver Beale (U10 Boys), Joe Carpenter (U8 Boys) and Carys Gregory (U8 Girls).

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