Redditch riders taking West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League by storm - The Redditch Standard

Redditch riders taking West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League by storm

Redditch Editorial 21st Sep, 2017 Updated: 21st Sep, 2017   0

REDDITCH Road & Path Cycling Club youngsters have been in dazzling form in the West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League.

The West Midlands has national champions in pretty much every age group and is arguably the toughest and biggest league in the country.

There are often more than 500 competitors racing over the day and on average Redditch have the largest contingent of riders participating in the league, with some as young as five and the oldest just shy of 70. It is a family affair with children, parents and even grandparents riding in the different age categories.

So far this year Redditch have had podium placings at every event and in every youth age group from U6 to junior (U18) level. The Redditch Slipstreamers are again surpassing all expectations despite many of the riders moving up age categories, not least in round three at Liveridge Hill, Henley, hosted by Stratford CC and Johnsons Coaches.

U6 rider Ben Gilmore earned another well deserved second spot and in the same race in the U8 category Arly Berry just missed out on third place, backing up his previous strong rides of first and fourth in the previous races.

The U10s fought hard and had some great inter-club battles. Beany Oldfield got quicker throughout the race and secured another podium spot as third U10 girl.

The U12s was exciting from a Redditch perspective. An extended course with a tough steep climb looked to sort the men from the boys and Ryan Oldfield got off to his trademark poor start as the other riders took advantage of their superior strength.

Eighth on the first lap, Oldfield then made his skill and fitness tell. Being a little smaller than the other riders helped him scythe through the field into third with just one lap to go.

Oldfield first attacked on the starting drag up the main field, moving into second, before a further attack on the steeper second climb saw him distance his rivals and finish comfortably in second place.

The youth race is probably where Redditch have the most riders – a legacy of the 2012 Olympics – and these riders are a match for the adults.

Most of the U16s have moved up an age group and are still finding their feet in a category where the fastest riders are nearly racing at elite level time-wise. All rode strongly, negotiating the brutally tough course with four or five climbs. Indeed, it is a test just to finish the 30-minute race.

In the U16 girls’ race, West Midlands team mountain biker and Redditch rider Isla Mason toughed it out to finish third against older girls having just moved up from the U14s.

Next time out Isla will miss out on the league race as she moves up a level to represent her region racing mountain bikes on the Olympic course at Hadleigh, Suffolk.

She will be rubbing shoulders with team-mate Hattie Harnden, who is European U16 champion.

The U14 boys race proved to be the best and closest race of the day. With the same four riders taking the podium places in the last two races and being substantially ahead of the chasing pack, it was a surprise initially to see a group of eight off the front on the first lap.

Sensing this was not the race plan, a Solihull rider took up the mantle with a strong attack quickly covered by Sulli Berry from Redditch. The Solihull rider blew himself out and Sulli continued the hot pace with only two other riders able to follow.

The same three traded attacks for the final two laps but none got away. With the course twisting and turning in the final few corners, Sulli could not find a way through and had to settle for another superb third place in a tight sprint finish.

Lichfield-based rider Ben Askey (RST Racing Team) just had the beating of Max Greensill in second and third placed Sulli. Tom Porton raced cannily to dip into the top ten and score his first national ranking point which will hopefully secure a place at the first national event in Derby come October.

In the ladies’ race, Annie Lyndsey had to contend with riders who are aiming at winning national titles as well as being European champions, so it was always going to be tough. Lyndsey always performs well on the hills and ended with a strong final lap to finish third junior woman.

The adults are always a little less successful but no less effort is put in. The outstanding performers for the club are Terry Richardson and James Strain, both keeping pace in the veterans 40+.

Mike Matthews and John Homer are fighting hard in the veterans 50+ race and Scott Matthews is the highest placed Redditch junior rider.

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