CYCLING: Mick Ives’ team at national championships

Kirby Bennett on the rostrum with his bronze medal in the 55-59 age group
Kirby Bennett on the rostrum with his bronze medal in the 55-59 age group
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World champion Roach pulls out with a heavy cold

Elite cycle race team, Team Jewson-MI Racing-Polypipe were in the thick of the action at the British Cyclo Cross Championships at Shrewsbury on Saturday.

The tough course was made even harder by recent rain, with some sections over a foot deep in mud and a lot more running than normal. Martine Verweij got the team off to a brilliant start, when she finished in 2nd place in the Lady Veterans 40-44 years Championship,her first National Championship Medal, having been in the team for past ten seasons. Martine is the current Midland Champion and lives at Alcester. Team mate Lindsey Nell, from Nuneaton, finished in 27th place.

In the Championship for riders 50 and over the team stood a brilliant chance of taking the Team Championship once again, but bad luck hit hard, when their leading rider, the current UCI World Masters Champion, Rugby’s Phil Roach, had to pull out early in the race, suffering from a heavy cold and unable to breath properly. Phil had led at the start and hoped to make it through to the end to hopefully lead his team home, but it was not to be. Despite the big loss, Geoff Giddings rode a brilliant race to finish in 8th place and Hinckley’s Kirby Bennett in 12th, finishing 3rd in the Championship for riders 55-59 years. The third counting member Pete Smith, who was gridded near the rear of the 100 plus starters, because he had only competed in four events this season, rode his heart out to finish a brilliant 27th, which meant that the team only missed taking the Team Championship by three points. Wellesbourne’s Tim Stowe finished in 44th place and Barrie Mitchell from Marton finished 3rd in the 65 and over Championship.

In the afternoon following more rain, Steve Knight, proved once again what a brilliant rider he has been, and still is , with a really solid ride to finish 11th, catching his team mate Carl Sturgeon just before the finish, when Carl tangled with course marking materials and fell. Earlier Carl had been riding in 4th place when his rear gear broke and he had to run to the pits to collect his spare machine, losing him valuable time and places.

Third team member Mark James had his worst ride of the season to finish in 37th place, when he was expected to be in top dozen. He too had problems, when he was forced off the track into the tapes, which then got wrapped around his wheels, and by the time he had sorted it he was well down the field.

As the season draws to a close, the Team can be proud of their results, with championships and event victories coming thick and fast.

Team boss Mick Ives said: “I am proud of the riders’ performances. They had had some terrible weather to contend with, but have all given 110%. I can’t ask for more. Several riders were out of the championships including Coventry’s Pete Busby with a broken finger and Steph Peters from Atherstone with a broken collar bone, but we look set to collect more honours next season. Bring it on!”

Pictured: Kirby Bennett who was 3rd in the 55-59 National Championships