It was the penulatimate round of the Eastern Cyclocross League on Sunday at Milton Country Park, and for Ely rider Tom Lewis the objective for the weekend was clear. If he won the race, he would take the league championship in the Youth/U16 category. The racing took place on a 2.3km course featuring a wide range of technical challenges for the riders including steep climbs and descents, off-camber sections and logs laid across the course to act as hurdles.
Lewis was the rider in form going into the race, having won 3 of the 4 previous rounds, but he and Oliver Beale of Welwyn Wheelers had been fighting it out for the top step of the podium throughout the season. At the start of the race Lewis had, by his standards, a rather slow start but made it onto Beale's wheel by the time the riders got into the tight singletrack section of the course where overtaking would be difficult. Lewis took the lead during the course of the first lap and, having reached the log hurdles towards the end of the first lap, he elected to take the safe option and dismount, running across the logs while carrying his bike. Beale took the faster but more risky option of trying to jump over the logs on his bike, a risk which on this occasion did not pay off as he crashed heavily. Although Beale remounted and tried to continue the race he was unable to finish the second lap, and a trip to hospital revealing that he had broke his collarbone in the crash. With his main rival out of contention, Lewis rode strongly for the rest of the race to a convincing win, over a minute ahead of the rest of the field, taking the league championship in the process.
Kieran Vanhoutte was also riding in the Youth/U16 category, and despite also having a slow start he picked up places throughout the race, finishing in 8th place. Harvey Woodroffe and Lucas Bowman were in the same race but competing in the U14 category. Woodroffe got a good start, despite this being his first race since recovering from illness, and was ahead of Vanhoutte at the beginning of the race but he lost time when he crashed on the first lap. He made up places during the rest of the race, but crashed again on the final lap to leave him in 6th place in the U14 category. Lucas Bowman spent most of the race locked in a tight battle with Matthew Smith of Fenland Clarion, but faded slightly towards the end and ended up in 13th place.
Neil Bowman and John McAndrew were the two Ely riders competing in the V50 race. McAndrew spent much of the race trying to close the gap to Bowman, while Bowman used the backmarkers well to try to hold off McAndrew, whose choice of a mountain bike rather than a cyclocross bike suited the challenging course. Bowman succeeded in staying ahead of McAndrew all the way to the chequered flag, beating McAndrew to 17th place overall but by a margin of only 5 seconds.
Ferenc Vanhoutte was the sole Ely rider in the V40 race and by this stage of the day's racing the track was starting to show wear and tear from the previous races, rendering some of the climbs particularly treacherous. By his own admission Vanhoutte did not have a good race and ended up in 44th place, lower than his usual finishing position.
The last race of the day saw Isaac Barton riding in the Junior category with Joshua Woodroffe in the Senior event. Barton's race was affected by mechanical issues with his bike, in particular problems with his saddle. He nonetheless finished in 7th place. Woodroffe got a clean start at the beginning of the race and rode well to avoid any crashes or incidents, but the unrelenting nature of the course took its toll over the hour-long event and he slowed towards the end of the race, finishing in 37th position.
The next and final event of the 2022/3 championship takes place at West Stow on 5th February.
Ely & District Cycling Club - B&T Motor Repairs Press Release 31st January 2023
Tom Lewis takes the chequered flag, the race and the league title. Credit Martin Lewis.
Isaac Barton in the Junior race. Credit Davey Jones.
Joshua Woodroffe having fun in the Senior race. Credit Davey Jones.
Ferenc Vanhoutte leaps the hurdles in the V40 event. Credit Davey Jones.
John McAndrew in the V50 race. Credit Davey Jones.
Neil Bowman rides the logs in the V50 race. Credit Davey Jones.
Harvey Woodroffe in the U14 race. Credit Davey Jones.
Kieran Vanhoutte in the U16 race. Credit Davey Jones.
Tom Lewis tackles the logs on his way to victory. Credit Davey Jones.
Lucas Bowman in the U14 race. Credit Davey Jones.