Ipswich set for world cup event

CYCLING: Ipswich are favourites to host the first-ever British leg of the cyclo-cross world cup series after successfully staging round three of the national trophy.

By Elvin King

CYCLING

IPSWICH are favourites to host the first-ever British leg of the cyclo-cross world cup series after successfully staging round three of the national trophy.

Around 2,000 spectators gathered around the Alexandra Park area of the town on Sunday to witness a day of highly competitive racing.

At the moment there are seven events in the world cup and it is likely that Britain will add to it in 2004.

Steve Grimwood, from Ipswich Bicycle Club which organised Sunday's event, said: "Ipswich has become favourites to stage the event when Britain joins the world cup scene. It will not be next year, but could be in 2004."

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The national trophy meeting has been held around Foxhall Stadium for the last couple of years or so, but it was decided to switch the venue this time.

It is the highest ranking cyclo-cross event held in England, being in category two. Every other event in England is no higher than category three.

"We moved from Foxhall because we wanted to bring it more into the public focus," said Grimwood. "It was a tough course, which proved a winner and we plan to continue with the same venue next year."

There were over 300 competitors in total, with a party travelling from the West Flanders region of Belgium. West Flanders is a twin council to Suffolk County Council.

Matt Ellis made the day trip from his Belgian base to record an emphatic victory. One of half a dozen professionals in the elite class, Ellis escaped the leading pack a third of the way through the hour-long race. He was never seriously troubled and finished 46 seconds clear.

Behind him were a group of five contesting the minor places – Barrie Clarke, Stuart Wearmouth, Nick Craig and Belgian visitors Gert Vandaele and Ronny Poelvoorde.

Vandaele tried on numerous occasions to escape his unwanted company, but was forced to fight his way back to the group after a series of falls.

Craig was eventually dropped and a four-up sprint looked on the cards before Wearmouth managed to shake off his challengers and claim the runners-up spot, enough to give him the series leader's yellow jersey.

Big loser of the day was the previous leader George Richardson, who suffered an illness during the week and finished well down the field.

In the Junior race, Ian Bibby claimed his second victory in three rounds to reclaim the yellow jersey from former leader Richard Kipling. Kipling was another illness-sufferer who failed to finish on this occasion.

The youth race saw Alex Atkins record a third successive win in the Under-16's, with Adam Blythe also keeping his unbeaten record intact in the Under-14 category.

Isla Rowntree maintained her 100 per cent record in the women's competition, although she was briefly challenged by two Dutch visitors who filled the remaining podium places.

There was a change at the top of the order in the Veteran's competition.

Sheffield's Mick Rowson outsprinted Nigel Hay to win the Over-40s' race and take the yellow jersey from Mick Bell, who could only manage fourth place.

Vic Barnett was the winner of the Over-50 division, but second place was enough for Pete Mooney to retain the leadership of the series.

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