Riders tackle the mud at Thornbridge

Cyclo-cross Thornbridge Hall, Matlock's Chris Green
Cyclo-cross Thornbridge Hall, Matlock's Chris Green

The 12th round of this season’s Notts and Derby Cyclo Cross League took part on New Year’s Eve with Matlock Cycling Club as the promoting club, and the popular Thornbridge Outdoor Centre near Bakewell providing a very muddy and challenging venue.

The event attracted many top riders who were honing their form in readiness for next week’s Riders National Championships in Ipswich.

Local legend, ex-Senior and current Veteran national champion Nick Craig (Scott) was victorious in the main race, held in heavy conditions after two days of rain.

A bumper field of 179 in the main race was led away by David Fletcher (Boardman Elite) and Tom Last (Sigma Sport) with Craig down in around fifth place.

By lap two, Craig had got across to, and past, Last and was chasing hard to catch Fletcher, which he did by lap three.

They stayed together for a while but, as the course cut up further, Craig came into his own and was able to pull away lap by lap, employing his usual technique of taking lines that few others use in order to find traction.

By the end of the race, he had pulled his advantage out to 46 seconds over Fletcher and 1-21 to Last.

After a steady start, Zepnat’s Jim Bryan rode through the field to fourth place, 2-09 behind Craig.

On a day with a top-class field (ex-national champion Ian Bibby was a non-finisher with mechanical troubles), Notts and Derby league regulars found themselves a little further down the order than usual, the first of these being Andy Naylor (Ashfield RC) in ninth followed by Chris Metcalfe (Charge Bikes) in tenth, just behind another local, Pete Middleton (Zepnat), in eighth.

Annie Last (Boardman Elite) took an anticipated victory for the women’s honours, using all her technical ability to finish 28th overall after a recent break from training and competition.

In the preceding youth race, James Shaw (Heanor Clarion) continued his current run of good form, finishing 24 seconds in front of the visiting Billy Harding (Paul Milnes Cycles) and Dylan Robson (Rhos-on-Sea) after 24 minutes of racing.

Arthur Green of the promoting club took fourth and Sarah Lomas, also of Matlock, was the first girl, while teammate William Gascoyne was once again the winner in the Under 14s event.

The promoting club had considerable successes in the younger age categories too, with Libby Smith being the fastest Under Nines Girl with older sister Ellie second in the Under 12s Girls race. Teammate John Webster put up a great fight in the Boys Under 12s event too and managed to finish on the podium in third spot.

Main race

Top 10:

Nick Craig (Scott) 9 laps in 52-17

David Fletcher (Boardman Elite) @46”

Tom Last (Sigma Sport) @ 1-21

Jim Bryan (Zepnat) @ 2-09

Lee Westwood  (Cycleshack) @3-35

Alex Welburn (Cycleshack) @4-25

Jack Humphreys (Wheelbase Cannondale) @5-12

Pete Middleton (Zepnat) @5-26

Andy Naylor (Ashfield RC) @5-42

Chris Metcalfe (Charge Bikes) @ 5-54

YOUTH RACE Top 5 -

James Shaw (Heanor Clarion) 5 laps in 23-56

Billy Harding (Paul Milnes Cycles) @24”

Dylan Robson (Rhos-on-Sea) @44”

Arthur Green (Matlock CC) @1-20

Thomas Craig (Scott) @1-55