MTB Winter Series gets under way in Thetford Forest

Norwich rider Darren Evans (Team CCN) on his way to a first individual win in the MTB Winter Series

Norwich rider Darren Evans (Team CCN) on his way to a first individual win in the MTB Winter Series in Thetford Forest. Photo: JOHN STYLES - Credit: Archant

With a wet first hour of racing, the MTB Winter Series got under way in Thetford Forest with slithers, slides and crashes.

The first round had a slightly hair-raising un-gridded mass start of some 400 riders – although the field soon sorted itself out on wide fire roads and the rain stopped after an hour. The course, in the Grimes Graves area of the forest, featured a slightly less steep than usual dive into the main 'bomb-hole'.

City College Norwich-based Team CCN had plenty of successes, with Darren Evans getting a long-awaited first individual win in the Veterans Two-Hour, Richard Dunnett taking the 18-39 Two-Hour and Sophie Wright on her own in the Junior Females. Paul Ashby (MT-Zoom) put over 17 minutes between himself and the next-fastest rider in the Four-Hour Vets.

The rain cleared from the Eastern League cyclo-cross comfortably before the start, but the clay surfaces around the Grafham Water reservoir were by turn slippery and sticky and there was plenty of opportunity for triumph to quickly turn to disaster.

In the hotly-contested 40-49 Vets race, Shaun Aldous' unbeaten run looked likely to end as London rider Kevin Knox led, but on the last lap, on a straight but slippery woodland track, Knox put the power down a tad too firmly and his back wheel slewed around and he was down.

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Aldous was just far enough behind to avoid colliding with his rival and went on to take the win – his sixth this season – while Paul Groombridge (Iceni Velo) was fifth in the 71-rider field.

In the women's race Jayne Williams (Autostrasse/Porsche) had a good lead when she fell heavily, allowing Jackie Field (CC Ashwell) through to win, with Kate Scotter (Iceni Velo) battled back after a crash to take second spot. In the Youth race, Dougal Toms (Iceni) maintained his unbeaten record in the Youth League, though league leader Kieran Jarvis (Great Yarmouth CC) was fifth.

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• Principal prize winner at the Norwich Amateur Bicycle Club's annual dinner was Jason Turner, who was club champion at 10, 25, 50 and 100 miles and long and short distance and Vets BAR. He also retained the King George V Cup as fastest club rider in North Norfolk Whs 100. Turner also set club records at 10 miles (20.33) and 12hrs (272.88 miles).

Thirty-mile champion was Richard Reade, who also received the Ivan Jeckell Memorial Shield. Other winners were Barney Horne (Cyclo X & Hill Climb); Pete Bussey (Criteriums); Giovanna Bertoldi and Jane Blackwell (Ladies BAR and 10 miles champion); Ed Dean (Club 10 miles series); Alastair Barrows (Schoolboys) and Mal Overman (Club Member of Year).

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