Youth dominates day as weather takes a toll

Young riders put in some sterling performances in the rain-soaked fourth round of the Winter Series mountain bike races, with 18-year-old James Ashby (Fat Birds) having a clear win in the 18-39 category and 15-year-old-Josh Hannan (Extreme Sports Therapy) recovering from breaking a bone in his foot five weeks previously to win a hotly contested junior race.

Young riders put in some sterling performances in the rain-soaked fourth round of the Winter Series mountain bike races, with 18-year-old James Ashby (Fat Birds) having a clear win in the 18-39 category and 15-year-old-Josh Hannan (Extreme Sports Therapy) recovering from breaking a bone in his foot five weeks previously to win a hotly contested junior race.

The final round was held in Tunstall Forest, just inland from the Suffolk coast. It never stopped raining and puddles reached hub-depth. Even the straight and usually fast fire roads became a 'batter mix' as Norwich rider Andrew Manning described it.

Manning was in the 2-Hour race for riders aged 40+ which ended in a tight finish which winner John McAndrew (Ben Hayward/OTH) described as a 'sprint at 8mph' so thick was the mud. Manning, who was stuck in his top cog as a result of disentangling a stick from his gears, was at a great disadvantage, but still had 55 seconds on third place Richard Muchmore.

James Ashby took the lead of the 18-39 two-hour race half way through the first lap. Michael Raven, struggling to see through muddy glasses, at one time opened a small gap on Ashby, but a broken seat post effectively ended his challenge. Thetford rider Nick Owen was third. Norwich rider Josh Hannan recovered from his bone-breaking crash in the last round, attacked on a fire road on the first lap of the junior race and opened a gap on third-round winner Bradley Burbridge. He was handicapped by a broken brake lever and Mike Thompson later joined him at the front, but Hannan had the power to gain six seconds in another straight-line attack. The long enduro was shortened to less than three hours. Young Billy-Joe Whenman won the 18-39 race, with Stephen James from Diss fifth and Norwich rider Dean Pointer 11th. Paul Ashby had seven minutes in hand at the head of the 40+ field.


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t Readers will be saddened to hear of the death of Howard Miller, secretary of the East Anglian CC.

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Howard was a keen supporter of the Tuesday and Thursday inter-club rides and in the past had been a fast and competitive rider, getting into the top 20 of the national championship 25 with 58:13 and winning The Tour of the Fosse road race from a solo break. The funeral will be at the Catholic Church, Costessey, on Friday, March 12, at 11.30 am.

t The first series of Watt Bike races in Norwich ended with Helen Oliver winning the women's series while Simon Asher and Robert Hernstrom won the 6pm and 8pm men's events respectively. Fresh leagues start on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Beth Coley (07736 061788) can tell you more.

t Entrants for the Plomesgate 10 mile time trial on Saturday, March 27 should note that there is a revised address for the event secretary - Evert Wijnberg, 2 White Lodge Gardens, Kesgrave, Ipswich, IP5 2NQ

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