Stephen James wraps up Eastern League cyclo-cross title
PUBLISHED: 13:28 25 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:28 25 January 2018
Steering a smooth steady line on a fiendishly slippery reverse camber curve, Stephen James wrapped up the Eastern League with a tenth win and an unbeaten record, writes Fergus Muir.
This course section on the fenced rim of a water retention basin was a key feature of the Iceni Velo Snetterton Cross and both of James’s closest challengers – semi-pro James Madgwick (eventually second) and bike shop apprentice Kieran Jarvis struggled to stay straight as they chased.
It was a quiet triumph for Wetheringsett rider James, already officially a veteran, in a result otherwise dominated by the young – the next six places were taken by either Under 23s or Juniors.
Top Junior was Connor Rumbles, fourth overall riding for his new team Strada Sport, while next Junior was Ipswich rider Jack Parrish who has joined Team Vision Innovation Leisure, needing a team for the Junior Road Series.
Sixth-placed Matthew Day, back riding first-claim for Manningtree BC, put in his best performance of the season, as did Ed Bull of Stowmarket & District.
It was freezing as Iceni Velo members set up the course. By the third race it was marginally warmer but sleet was falling – and hardly gave up for through the rest of the meeting, gradually lubricating the increasing mud. Never was World Horse Welfare’s Feed Bucket Cafe more welcome.
There was a double success for the Hine family – Simon Hime winning the Vets 50-plus while his daughter Ceci won the Women’s race. Alison Hogg (Push Sport) took second place thus making sure of winning the Senior Women’s League.
The Vets 50-Plus also saw a battle royal between West Suffolk clubmates Paul Watson and Mike Bowen which Watson (fifth) won by three seconds.
And take note of Iceni Velo’s Brian Allerton’s ride. Far from having spare bikes and choices of tyres, he rode a frame he bought on Gumtree for five pounds – and did not finish last, either.
West Drayton rider Neil Ellison took the Vets 40-49 where 1992-93 League Junior Champion Nick Keane (Renvale RT) was top local finisher in fifth place and unattached Phil Johnson just pipped Giles Prime (West Suffolk Wheelers) after a close duel.
Adam Lightfoot (CC Ashwell) won the Youth race from Alex Dale (Lee Valley Youth).
Daniel Hall (Colchester Rovers) and George Farrow-Green (Iceni) were in contention for fifth, Farrow-Green bunny-hopping the indoor hurdles while Hall dismounted. Getting muddy shoes clipped back in on the last lap just made the difference and the Iceni lad took fifth, though Hall was well ahead of seventh-placed Joseph Smith in a field of 51.
The youngest riders had the best of the conditions and Florence Barnett of the King’s Lynn CC provided the first East Anglian winner when she took the Under 12s race outright, ahead of first boy Harley Gregory (West Suffolk Wheelers) and Dylan Starkey (Welwyn Wheelers) who – like Florence - is now certain of a category win in the Eastern League.
Caris Gregory (West Suffolk Whs) won the Under Eight Girls and made certain of the U8G League win. The Boy’s league placings remain to be settled in the final round at Milton Country Park, Cambridge.
However we already know that West Suffolk’s Tommy Dickson is confirmed third in the Under 10s...and at the other end of the age scale, Nigel Herrod is sure of third in the Vets 60-Plus.
Among time trial major award winners at the East District CA Prize Presentation at Carbrooke were Verity Smith (Stowmarket & Dist), Jen Smart (VC Norwich) and VeloVelocity team members Matthew Senter and David Proctor.
As icy roads gave way to sleety conditions, just three took part in the morning reliability trial in which District Chairman Don Saunders clearly had a hard time. Fortunately Don did not have to present the awards this year – that honour being shared between Ted Jackson and Geoff Allum, who had both just retired after decades of service at EDCA secretary and treasurer respectively.
RESULTS – ICENI VELO SNETTERTON CROSS – Winners and leading local riders: Senior/Junior: 1 Stephen James (Renvale RT), 2 James Madgwick (Bloodwise/QSW)+ 0:16 secs, 3 Kieran Jarvis (OnForm) +3:20, 4 Connor Rumbles (East Coast Riders, 1st Junior) + 4:13, 6 J Parrish (Team Vision Innovative Leisure);
Women: 1 Cecilia Hime (St Ives CC), 2 Alison Hogg (Push Sport) +0:16, 3 Jo Newstead (Ipswich BC, 1st Veteran) + 1:03, 6 L Brown (West Suffolk Whs);
Vet 40-49: 1 Neil Ellison (West Drayton MTB), 2 Roger Maidment (Forest Side Riders) +0:37, 3 Ben Lewis (FSR) +0:38, 4 N Keane (Renvale RT) +1:59;
Vets 50+ 1: Simon Hime (Finchley RT) 2 Clive Harrison (Ford CC) +0:32, 3 Dave Copland (Ipswich BC) +0:40, 4 P Watson (West Suffolk Whs) + 0:47, 5 M Bowen (West Suffolk Whs) +0:50.