CYCLING: Big weekend ahead for Mick Ives’ team

Phil Roach                  (Picture by Jon Stevenson)
Phil Roach (Picture by Jon Stevenson)

Roach in brilliant form with two more victories

World Masters Champion Phil Roach was in brilliant form over the weekend, following a bad spell of luck over the Christmas period, when he punctured in two out of three races, this time there was no stopping the Rugby member of the Coventry-based Team Jewson-MIRacing-Polypipe.

Mick Ives   (Picture by Jon Stevenson)

Mick Ives (Picture by Jon Stevenson)

On Saturday afternoon he won the latest round in the Notts and Derby series, with ease, then on Sunday morning won the Snetterton Cyclo Cross by over two minutes, his tenth victory of the season.

Team mate Steve Knight won the Veterans’ race at Baggeridge County Park, near Dudley, and after starting one minute behind the Senior riders, caught all but two of them by the finish.

The course was very muddy and very tough going, but that suited slow starter Knight, where his fitness strength and bike handling made up for it.

Newly crowned LVRC British 55+ Champion Kirby Bennett from Hinckley, found the tough conditions not to his liking. Having led the race for three quarters of the event, he dropped back to be overtaken by Mick Davies from Loughborough, the rider he had beaten the week before to win the Championship.

This weekend is the most important weekend’s racing in the British Cyclo Cross Calendar (January 9-10) at Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

And two teams from the area have realistic chances of making the podium in their respective championship events.

Darren Atkins, who rides for his own Shop Race Team, must have a brilliant chance in the Veteran 40-49 race on Saturday afternoon. Atkins is the current Midland Champion, and leads the National Trophies series with just one more race to go. He is, of course, the son of 13 times British Champion John Atkins.

Laura Humphries from Rugby, and soon to be joining Team Jewson, will be riding the Ladies’ under 23 Championships.

But the Team that expects to come away with some sort of success is Team Jewson—MIRacing—Polypipe.

Team Boss Mick Ives, no stranger to Championship victories, his current record stands at six World Masters Championships at cyclo cross and one at both road and mountain bike as well as 84 British Cycling Championships, will miss this one out and be Team Manager over the weekend.

Ives stressed that he has built up a formidable squad of Veterans both on the road, track and at cyclo cross. It’s the cross riders’ turn to win some silverware.

The programme begins with the Ladies’ Veteran Championships at 9.30am on Saturday morning, and Team Jewson, have three riders entered. Martine Verweij, who lives at Alcester and has been with the team ten years. Martine is the current Midland Champion, and showed excellent form a few weeks ago at the Evesham race when she not only won the Veterans event, but beat all the younger ladies as well. She must be considered as a possible Podium contender. She will be supported by Stephanie Peters, who is still recovering from a smashed collar bone in October and the third member and new to cyclo cross this season, is Lindsey Nell from Nuneaton.

The Ladies’ Vets race is followed by the 50 and over Men’s Race, and here the team have a very good chance of taking back the trophy that they have won many times before.

The line up is: Phil Roach (Rugby) the current World Masters Champion; Geoff Giddings the LVRC National Champion 50+; Kirby Bennett the LVRC 55+ National Champion; Pete Smith - top all rounder; Tim Stowe (Wellesbourne) and Barrie Mitchell (Marton). Peter Busby is still not ready to compete following his Boxing Day accident, when he lost part of his finger.

“Realistically we should get at least one rider on the podium and will be out to get the Team Championship,” said Ives.

“In the afternoon the 40+ riders have their Championship, and again Team Jewson have riders capable of getting up there, and a slim chance of Team Victory as well, but they will only have three riders in the race, one mistake or problem and the Team victory will be gone.

“Top rider is man on form Carl Sturgeon, who finished one place behind Atkins on Boxing Day in third place. He will be joined by ever faithful Steve Knight, the ex British Senior and British Veteran Champion. Knight usually has trouble with his start and could be well down the field after the first lap, but finishes very strongly, but third rider Mark James can start fast, and should be well up throughout the event.

“The course, which has been used for several high profile events in the past, will suit our riders. There will be plenty of mud, greasy tree roots in the wooded sections and several steep grass banks to negotiate each lap, a really testing course,” added Ives. “By Sunday afternoon when the Senior race takes place, it should be very hard going.

“The Team will have 16 team members working in the pits and jet washing bikes and supporting the Riders. It should be a good weekend racing.”