DENGIE MARSHES HARSHER THAN EVER
Andy Lyons of Orbea-ForGoodnessShakes is the defending champion at the third running of the Tour of the Dengie Marshes, the 'Hell of the East', on Sunday [March 28].
Organiser Alan Rosner has pulled out all the stops for this Flanders-style test - loosely termed a road race - with just seven of the 84 miles being run on classified tarmac. A combination of rough farm tracks and potholed lanes make up the remainder of the course. "The bunch usually strings out and breaks up within five miles of the start!" said Rosner.
For Lyons, the race holds special significance. The winner receives the Chris Negus Trophy in memorial to the Essex rider killed by a motorist in 2008.
"We used to race and train together, and I was with him 20 minutes before he got killed," said Lyons. "He decided to head home, patted me on the back and said 'see you next week'. And of course, we didn't. His wife comes out and presents the trophy, so the race means a lot to me."
Rosner was inspired to organise the race after seeing the CiCLE Classic in Rutland, the only race in Britain that bears comparison with its Essex cousin, according to Lyons. The course is pan-flat, but the proximity to the North Sea brings its own problems.
"It blows a gale out there because it's all reclaimed land," he explained. "A couple of the dirt tracks are a mess - way worse than anything in the CiCLE. You have to use your head and hit the rough bits near the front, then it sorts itself out. Before long, you are away in a group."
Lyons makes it sound easy, but last year's runner-up, Darren Barclay (Arctic-Premier), will be snapping at his heels. "Darren's a good lad. He'll up there again. There's a couple of Sigma Sport guys. Rob Sharman's got a lot of class. And Kuota have got five Elite riders. Then there's my old adversary, Roy Chamberlain."
Racing starts at 2pm. Lyons recommends Southminster for spectators, just three miles from the finish in Burnham.
St Peter's High School
Burnham on Crouch
Lyons warms up with Orbea
ISLAND GIRL IONA WINS IN MALTA
Iona Sewell followed in the footsteps of Nicole Cooke with victory in the Tour of Malta. The three-stage race taken by the Olympic Champion as a 17 year old in 2000 was won in similarly dominant fashion by former Leeds Mercury rider Sewell, now with Squadra Donne.
Sewell's performance in the opening time trial stage set the stage. The following day's 70km road stage sealed the victory, despite losing a minute to eventual runner-up Roos van den Boos on stage three in Gozo.
Sewell gets busy with the bubbly
BANG & OLUFSEN MAKE NOISE
Belgium-based Essex boy Dominic Schils (Interbike UK) was best placed UK rider in the men's Tour of Malta. The 18 year old finished sixth overall.
Chevin Bang & Olufsen RRT took a young squad to the Mediterranean island, with Adam Cairns taking 12th spot overall despite the lack of TT bikes enjoyed by the Italian teams.
Team manager Lee Owen-Stanford was pleased with the performance of his youngsters. "Chevin Bang & Olufsen RRT has been set up to bring on young riders in the North of England," he said. "With the help of our new Team Coach, Phil West from British Cycling, Chevin Bang & Olufsen RRT want to be used as a feeder team to national and international teams.
"Any juniors in the north of England looking for a team this season are welcome and encouraged to contact me at email@example.com."
TESTING TESTING IN RUTLAND
Rutland-based cycle retailer Rutland Cycling has three demo weekends in the coming months where riders can try bikes from the likes of Giant, Trek, Felt and Wilier, with Endura clothing and Thule car racks also on show.
Brand representatives will be on hand for advice while a barbecue on Saturday evenings takes care of your stomach. No pre-booking is required and entry is free. See www.rutlandcycling.com for further details.
May 22-23 Whitwell
June 12 Normanton
June 19-20 Grafham
Wednesday's British news round-up
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