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Stephen James takes home win in National Trophy at Trinity Park

PUBLISHED: 14:21 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:44 12 January 2018

Stephen James wins the Vets 40-49 race at Trinity Park. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Stephen James wins the Vets 40-49 race at Trinity Park. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

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The Ipswich National Trophy cyclo-cross got off to the best possible start when Suffolk rider Stephen James won the first race of the day – for veterans aged 40-49.

Beth Crumpton (Storey Racing) wins the Women’s race at Trinity Park. Picture: FERGUS MUIR Beth Crumpton (Storey Racing) wins the Women’s race at Trinity Park. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Although just over 40, James has previously preferred to race against Senior (age 18-39) riders in the Eastern League.

He only entered the Vets race at Ipswich to get a better place on the starting grid for the National Championship this coming weekend.

James was almost unnoticed on the fourth row of the Vets grid at Trinity Park, the Suffolk Showground, but after a lap crept up on the leaders.

At first it looked as if the effort had taken its toll and he dangled behind the group. But, making a quick recovery from two falls, he joined the front men and - with a lap to go – attacked alone and took the flag with second-placed Nick Craig out of sight.

The centrepiece of Steve Grimwood’s imaginative course was the scaffolding bridge, sponsored by James’s motorsport wiring business Renvale. The Ipswich Bicycle Club steps attracted many spectators, while additional corners had been worked into the indoor barn section.

Sophie Wright (left) on the Women’s podium with Anna Kay and Ffion James at Trinity Park. Picture: FERGUS MUIR Sophie Wright (left) on the Women’s podium with Anna Kay and Ffion James at Trinity Park. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Probably the trickiest test was a tightly banked turn on rutted sand that competitors had to negotiate dead into a brilliant sun.

“You just had to guess the lines” said XRT/Elmy’s Cam Hurst who was top local rider in the Junior race, where Jack Parrish (Ipswich BC) was 29th.

Conditions throughout the day were dry and fast. Trees protected the most popular spectator areas near the steps, but elsewhere a brisk wind cooled the army of helpers who made the event possible – and sometimes got under the surface of the Renvale Bridge which billowed like the sea, without apparently disconcerting those racing over it.

In the Women’s race Beth Crumpton (Storey Racing) and Anna Kay (EDCO/Continental) were locked in a battle so intense that Sophie Wright was stretched to hang on. Eventually the elastic broke and Wright had to settle for third place, while Crumpton took the win from Kay.

Ipswich rider Jo Newstead (XRT/Elmy) to sixth place in the Vet Women while Richard Muchmore (Renvale RT) held a place in the front group in the 50-plus men with aplomb and eventually finished seventh out of 56 classified finishers. Steve de Boltz (Ipswich Bicycle Club) was 23rd.

West Suffolk Wheeler Paul Watson leads a string of 50+ Vets at Trinity Park. Picture: FERGUS MUIR West Suffolk Wheeler Paul Watson leads a string of 50+ Vets at Trinity Park. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Next local riders behind Stephen James in the Vets 40-49 were Adam Chamberlin (TPH) who was 25th and Nick Cook (Ipswich BC, 28th).

Though Eastern League racers are well familiar with Welwyn Wheeler Oliver Stockwell who won the Under 16 Boy’s by a tyre’s width, the highest-placed member of a local club was Daniel Hall (Colchester Rovers, 32nd) who finished just ahead of Charlie Johnson (Ipswich CSC, 35th). Among the Under 16 Girls that honour went to Martha Lebentz (Hadleigh CC) who was 15th.

The sun, still brilliant, was dipping as Senior riders started the final event. Renvale’s James lined up to race a second time, but soon retired, cheerfully admitting afterwards that he had given his all to win the Vets.

“Within about 100 metres of the Senior race I knew it wasn’t happening at all” he said.

Belgian visitor Braam Merlier was absolutely dominant at the front and won his third National Trophy race on the trot, this one by 52 seconds.

Best Ipswich BC boy in the Under 16s at Trinity Park – Josh Bowyer. Picture: FERGUS MUIR Best Ipswich BC boy in the Under 16s at Trinity Park – Josh Bowyer. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

The XRT/Elmy colours were flown by occasional visitor Thijs Al who was 38th one place ahead of Holbrook man Paddy Atkinson (Renvale RT).

- The East District Cycling Association Prize Presentation is on Sunday 21st January at Carbrooke Village Hall, IP25 6SW. All are welcome, without booking.

There will be a reliability trial at 10am, food from noon and the EDCA and SPOCO East awards will be presented from 1 pm.

The Eastern Counties CA luncheon will be in Upminster on Sunday 4th February. Bookings are needed for this one – by 18th January. See the ECCA website for details.

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