The weather stayed crisp and cold and the excellent Peel Park in Bradford was firm and fast for the opening day?s racing of the National cyclo-cross championships.
The much-anticipated mud bath failed to materialise but icy corners made the course every bit as tricky, as new under-23 champion David Fletcher found out.
?I came off three times, I think, including the first lap,? said Fletcher. ?Coming onto some of the tarmac sections it was really slippery ? I was fishtailing all over the place.?
The opening shunt saw the SiS rider hit the deck along with fellow medal contender Jonny McEvoy, leaving the pair to chase back to the leading group of Stephen Adams (Plowman Craven-Madison), Mark Thwaites (Asfra Flanders RT) and Scott Thwaites (Crosstrax).
Once back on terms, another pile-up this time worked to the advantage of the new champion. ?Three of them came down on the corner before the steps, so I tried to capitalise on it and belted down the start straight.?
The race was effectively over, as Fletcher pressed on to finish 46 seconds ahead of McEvoy (100% Me), with Plowman Craven?s new signing Stephen Adams taking a hard-earned bronze after fighting his way back through the placings having slipped back mid-race.
RESULTS: UNDER-23 MEN
1. David Fletcher (SiS-Trek)
2. Jonny McEvoy (100% Me)
3. Stephen Adams (Plowman Craven-Madison)
The three favourites coming into this race filled the three medal positions, as most would have predicted. Anticipating the order of finish, however, was no easy task.
On this occasion it was Noel Clough who got the better of 2007 veteran?s champion Chris Young, with Geoff Giddings ? runner-up on the last two occasions ? taking the bronze.
As Young explained, there is not much to separate the trio of over-40?s. ?I beat Noel twice last week, and the last time I raced against Geoff it ended in a sprint finish. The competition is close between the three of us.?
It was Young who had the flying start, but an early attack by Clough and Phil Roach (Rugby Velo) saw them pull away. ?Roach came back to us,? said Young, ?then everyone had a go at pegging Clough back. It ended up just me and Geoff [Giddings], battering each other trying to catch Noel. Another two laps and we probably would have had him.?
But the duo were out of time and the leading veterans had a better time staying upright than their younger counterparts, with Clough taking the chequered flag a comfortable 14 seconds ahead of Young, and Giddings a further 13 seconds back.
RESULTS: VETERAN MEN
1. Noel Clough (Fietsen Tempo-The House-Chapters)
2. Chris Young (JD Cycles Ilkley)
3. Geoff Giddings (Endura-MI Racing)
RESULTS: YOUTH MEN
1. Joshua Papworth (Wyre Forest CRC-Fabricolour-DWT Legal
2. Samuel Lowe (Go Spex Sports RT)
3. Hugo Humpheys (Lee Valley Youth CC)