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Jimmy Piper smiles his way to victory at opening round of Mud, Sweat and Gears event

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 March 2020

Norwich rider Jimmy Piper – Vet 50-60 winner. Picture: Fergus Muir

Norwich rider Jimmy Piper – Vet 50-60 winner. Picture: Fergus Muir

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Over 300 mountain bikers revelled in the sun at the opening round of the Mud, Sweat and Gears in the sheltered valley that is Henham Park, near Southwold.

The Sport Mens start with winner Robert Smithers no 798. Picture: Fergus MuirThe Sport Mens start with winner Robert Smithers no 798. Picture: Fergus Muir

On sandy soils there was almost no mud, though sweat was inevitable and gears pretty vital as the course climbed up and down the valley sides. Downhill bends over exposed tree-roots were a course speciality.

There was a first-event-of-the-season glitch with the electronic results which are therefore subject to confirmation.

However, there is little doubt that Norfolk winners include Jimmy Piper (Renvale RT) smiling his way to the 50-60 age group win, and from Joseph Smith (Iceni Velo) who rode off the front of the Youth field after three laps with teammate Callum Laborde.

Riders aged 18-39 are divided into an Expert/Elite category and the rest, who are categorised as "Sport". Watton rider Robert Smithers (XLR8) won Sport, while visitor from the Midlands Richard Jones took Elite/Expert ahead of Lowestoft rider Seb Herrod.

Lowestoft rider Seb Herrod (895) sweeps through the beechwood at Henham Park. Picture: Fergus MuirLowestoft rider Seb Herrod (895) sweeps through the beechwood at Henham Park. Picture: Fergus Muir

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MSG deliberately toned down the hair-raising challenges to help cyclo-cross regulars sampling MTB racing and this will have helped CX rider Gemma Melton win "Sport" Female category in her first MTB race. Completing the podium were Norwich riders Cindy Beynon and Nicole Beck, while Elvita Branch was top Elite/Expert.

The Wymondham-based Strada 2020 team started the new road season with a fine second place by Ben Beynon who was part of a long leading break in the Crest Road Race near Saffron Walden.

This season-opening race for middle category entrants featured an attacking field with many keen to make their mark.

The start of the women’s race at Henham Park. Elite winner Elvita Brach is no 952 while 765 is Sport winner Gemma Melton. Picture: Fergus MuirThe start of the women’s race at Henham Park. Elite winner Elvita Brach is no 952 while 765 is Sport winner Gemma Melton. Picture: Fergus Muir

Central challenge is a long climb over an M11 motorway bridge and up out of the Cam valley and a group including Beynon and Loddon rider Ollie Wood made the first move.

That was chased down but immediately a second break, again including Beynon, got away and four of these contested the finish. Craig Rodgers (Cambridge University CC) took the win with Beynon outsprinting Toby Parnell (PCH) for second.

Great Yarmouth CC are running this Sundays local reliability rides; details are on the club's Facebook pages.

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