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Lowestoft rider Seb Herrod misses out in tight finish as Jules Birks takes win

PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 June 2019

The senior men’s start at Thickthorn. Eventual winner Jules Birks (229) and second placed Seb Herrod (508) at the front of the pack. Picture: Fergus Muir

The senior men's start at Thickthorn. Eventual winner Jules Birks (229) and second placed Seb Herrod (508) at the front of the pack. Picture: Fergus Muir

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Mountain bike riders enjoyed their first opportunity to race over the new course at Thickthorn, near Norwich which will host a round of the cross country National Series at the end of this month.

Lowestoft rider Seb Herrod leads eventual Elite winner Jules Birks. Picture: Fergus MuirLowestoft rider Seb Herrod leads eventual Elite winner Jules Birks. Picture: Fergus Muir

Highly technical features in an elongated former gravel pit were combined with parkland and open grassland - once the site of Hethersett Point-to-Point course.

On a rather close day - in the hot and humid sense - one of the closest finishes saw Elite Lowestoft rider Seb Herrod beaten by a whisker by Jules Birks. After sharing the lead all race Herrod drove hard at front over the last two laps, hoping to Birks would lose contact, but the Londoner hung in there and used his superior sprint to take the win.

Herrod's dad Nigel was 60-plus winner while Jimmy Piper (Renvale RT) was another local winner - over six minutes ahead of second-placed Keith Clarke.

In the East District 50 mile time trial championship both men's and women's records for the Needham to Stockton course were lowered.

Sport Female category winner Alison Gunnell rides for Breckland team HKR. Picture: Fergus MuirSport Female category winner Alison Gunnell rides for Breckland team HKR. Picture: Fergus Muir

In the Godric CC-promoted event Ben Stancombe (VeloVelocity) took the men's championship with 1:46:20, while Becky Taylor (Wisbech Whs) took 2:02:51 to secure the women's.

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Starting at 7.30am - before the heat begun to build up, conditions, including a rising tailwind finish were deemed near-perfect by organiser John Pugh.

Next fastest behind Stancombe were John Bradbury (CC Sudbury, 1:53:18) and Godric CC rising star Phil Marler who also won the handicap award with his 1:57:31.

Elite/Expert women’s winner at the Thickthorn MTB race, Elvita Branch. Picture: Fergus MuirElite/Expert women’s winner at the Thickthorn MTB race, Elvita Branch. Picture: Fergus Muir

Kay Burgess (2:14:10) was women's silver medallist while bronze went to Steph Hoyle (2;27:32)

Winners of the Anglia Velo 10 were Stuart Fairweather (VeloVelocity, 19:57) and Rebecca Johnson (Fusion RT, 23:03).

Norwich rower-turned-roadman Stephen Parsonage was the early animator of the Regional Road race Championship near Colchester. Parsonage - now with the Richardsons-Trek team - broke away with Felix Barker soon after the start.

Norfolk riders Tom Fitzpatrick and Morris Bacon were among riders who bridged across, forming a lead group of 15, soon melting down to 10 on a by now scorching morning.

On the last lap Essex rider Lewis Bulley moved clear to take the Regional Championship from Richardsons-Trek teammate James Jenkins. Morris Bacon (DAP CC) secured fifth place and Tom Fitzpatrick eighth. In the bunch - six minutes behind at the finish - local riders included Parsonage (11th), Harley Matthews (14th) and Kieran Jarvis (15th).

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