Clarke wins in a photo-finish

There was excitement for spectators and headaches for the judges at the Eastern Road Race League criterium championships at Ixworth, where close finishes were the order of the day.

There was excitement for spectators and headaches for the judges at the Eastern Road Race League criterium championships at Ixworth, where close finishes were the order of the day.

Robert Cox (Cambridge CC) took the third and fourth category race by a wheel's width from Adam Bedford, the diminutive VC Baracchi rider from Southwold.

The pair, together with Mark Westrup (VCB) from Bradwell and Will Heddon (Glendene CC), had attacked constantly throughout the race, but never got clear for long.

With two laps to go, Phil Hargreaves and son Pete showed off the new VC Norwich racing kit in a spirited attack, but at the line it was Cox from Bedford , Paul Silverman (Heanor Clarion) and Martin Hunter (Met Police), with Westrup fifth.

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The margin was even narrower in the race for top category riders, where victory was eventually awarded to David Clarke of Team Nippon.

He was a few millimetres in front of Gary Baker (Rapha/Condor), winner here last year and umpteen times before that.

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Baker had led out of the right-angled last corner on to Ixworth High Street, but an inconveniently parked car gave Clarke the opportunity to force Baker behind at the start of the climb and he did not quite get back in front.

West Suffolk Wheelers promoted the races and Olympic rider Ross Edgar, who started his career with the club and is now an honorary member took part, wearing a West Suffolk top over his Great Britain shorts.

Recently returned from the World Track Championships in Bordeaux, Edgar is back at his home near Newmarket for a rest after the winter season.

The Ixworth race was far too long for this specialist track sprinter, but his presence gave enormous pleasure.

West Suffolk Wheelers had further cause for celebration when clubman par-excellence and organiser of the forthcoming Division Championship Steve Newman won the veterans' race, before exchanging lycra for leathers and riding the lead motorcycle for the rest of the meeting.

The sharp corners and the climb to the finish make this a circuit where lean and skilled - like Bedford and Baker - can shine.

In the trike race Sid Charlton from Oundle used both attributes to get clear of a lead group, ahead of past-master Roger Akers (Welwyn Wheelers) Geoff Booker (Oxonian CC) and Diss bike shop owner Mick Madgett, whose fourth place was an outstanding result for someone who rarely has time to compete himself

Heavy rain caused more than half the entry in the VC Baracchi 10-mile time trial at Wortwell to be non-starters. Steve Hunt (Icknield RC) won in 21.58 from Anglia Velo pair David Staff (22:22), and Martin Pyne (22:29).

Jenny Anderson (Great Yarmouth CC, 27:11) won the women's event and Colin Bunnett (King's Lynn CC 23:43) the veterans' section.

Hunt also won the King's Lynn CC “10” in 21:05. The weather was more pleasant on the Tottinghill course but with a strong headwind on the last two of the three legs, very hard. Hunt recorded 21:05. nine seconds up on Gary Empson (API) and 46 seconds ahead of Paul Ashby (Fat Birds CC) .

There is just a week until registration closes for the first of the races at Lotus Cars at Hethel. Organiser Russell Parkins ( 01603 490837) emphasises that the handicap events will cater for all categories from juniors to veterans, including women and all senior men's categories.

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