Video and gallery: Mud madness at National 'cross

CYCLO-CROSS is traditionally all about mud, and competitors were given plenty of the stuff to deal with as the best cross racers in the country descended on Ipswich on Sunday for the third round of the prestigious National Trophy Series.

CYCLO-CROSS is traditionally all about mud, and competitors were given plenty of the stuff to deal with as the best cross racers in the country descended on Ipswich on Sunday for the third round of the prestigious National Trophy Series.

Heavy rain through the day turned the lush grasslands of Chantry Park into a quagmire as riders slipped and slid their way round a challenging course made even tougher by the conditions. It was so tough that the race commissaire decided that only the elite men would be tackling the energy-sapping steps up a huge earth mound and the vertiginous descent on the other side; the other classes were diverted around the obstacle.

The other new feature on the circuit, a bridge which straddled the track, was voted a success by riders and spectators alike.

Despite, or possibly because of, the conditions racing was tight and intense, with some thrilling battles in each event.

The mud cost youth rider Josh Papworth a win as he went down on the final bend before the finish in a gripping Under-16 contest. Local rider Hugo Robinson (Ipswich Bicycle Club) finished in eighth place.

The veterans saw more close racing, with Geoff Giddings taking the 40-49 category win, while Julian Parker (IBC) was best local finisher in 16th place. Ian Wright was the 50+ victor.

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David Nicholls (Glendene CC/ Bike Trax) would have been hoping for a podium placing on his 'home' event but just missed out, Sam Harrison taking the win.

The showpiece elite men and Under-23 race provided some spectacular action with superb bike handling skills on display, not least on the treacherous surface of the earth bank descent where racers were on the limits of control - or beyond in one or two cases.

There were plenty of other fallers round the track as tired riders lost grip but Paul Oldham gave a masterclass in foul-weather riding to break clear in the last few hundred metres to win from Jody Crawforth and series leader Ian Field.

Visitor Thomas Verneckt found conditions similar to those encountered in his native Flanders to his liking and came home as first Under-23.

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