The Sussex League at
Nearly all the big guns were in attendance for an action-packed evening of racing. Even European Masters champ Lee Povey had defied the ubiquitous volcanic ash to jet back from
And it was obvious to all spectators that there are so many candidates for overall league victory this year, that I’ll launch into my first forecast: the name of the senior league winner will only be known after the final race of the last meet in August.
The usual suspects were here tonight, notably defending champ Mark Burgess, 2007 and 2008 winner Felix English, the above-named Povey, 2009 B-league winner Richard Bailey, new star rider Stuart Bettis and several other strong candidates such as Martin Potter, Paul Barnard, Mark Mergler, Andy Edwards and former triathlete Drew Holmes.
However, they were joined by half-a-classroomful of teenagers, eager to show their elders how to race, including Brock Duncumb-Rogers, Elliot Tabraham-Dowers and Jack Oliver-Blaney. And, just to prove that you don’t have to have a double-barrelled surname to be among the best youth riders, Ashley Dennis and Jack Hoyle were also starring with the seniors tonight.
Thirty-five hopefuls were ready to launch into the 6-lap opener. New rider Alan Cooper showed well at the front of the bunch early on, as did the swift Edwards, while Nick Smith and Paul Davidoff were also well up there, before Duncumb-Rogers tried to get away without luck. With the top seeds biding their time, Cooper went away with Matt Wise. Further attacks came from Sam Cheesman and Matt Davies, but at the bell the bunch was all together with Tabraham-Dowers, Povey and Bailey at the head of affairs. At the finish, English put in a spirited rush to take the win, ahead of Duncumb-Rogers, Bettis, Povey, Dennis and Bailey.
Winners of the six sprint heats were English, Burgess, Povey, Bailey, Duncumb-Rogers and Tabraham-Dowers – no surprises there. The minor final was won by impressive-looking Barnard ahead of fast youth Hoyle and hasty Holmes, then it was time for the final itself. Bailey tried an early move, but the others were having none of it and the leading lights were controlling matters bigtime in the back straight. Into the finishing sprint, Povey came through with his inimitable powerful kick to take the win, with Burgess and English just behind him crossing the line with little to separate them. Duncumb-Rogers, Tabraham-Dowers and Bailey filled the next three places.
By this time, the forthcoming lack of light was beginning to cause worries, and the next race was to consist of two separate 3-lap dashes, firstly the odd numbers then the evens. There were no upsets here, the first being won by Povey with Holmes, Tabraham-Dowers, Burgess, Edwards and Matthew Earnshaw in his wake. The second was dominated by English, but next-over-the-line Duncumb-Rogers and Bettis couldn’t be separated, either by the judges or later by Dave Gerrey’s PC-enhanced frame-by-frame video-film, so they were awarded joint runner-up spot. They were followed home by Dennis, Ben Miller and Paul Davidoff.
There was just time for the unknown distance event, and you didn’t need a light-meter to see that it wouldn’t be a long one. Ultra-shrewd Mergler and Wise tried an enterprising move, breaking away from the start and gaining a useful gap on the peloton, relying on chief commissaire Vern McClelland to ring his bell without delay. However, their intelligence wasn’t quite matched by their strength, and unfortunately they weakened just as the bell rang. They were swallowed up on the back straight as the lightning bunch zipped past. English fired his retro-rockets as he passed Dressing-room Corner and took the win in style, with Povey, Duncumb-Rogers, Martin O’Brien, Edwards and Oliver-Blaney taking the remaining league points.
On the night, the score was English 3, Povey 2, but there are several other pretenders who are bound to show their hand in the next few weeks.
Forty-four youths took part in this busy meet, where the emphasis was most definitely on short races, to enable enough events to take place for everyone. Noah Ridgway-Brown won the £5 cash prize for the most meritorious youth, with three wins, and an additional £5 sporting award went to Louie Berey, who selflessly stopped to help a fallen rival in a scratch race.
Under 16 / Under 14
There were no successful attacks in the 4-lap opener, and the bunch sprint was convincingly won by U14 Jack Hoyle, who immediately changed category to race with the seniors. Girls national U14 cyclo-cross champ Kimberley English was next over the line, then came the first U16 Jack Priddle. U14 Jake Marley came fourth, and he was followed in by U14 Amy Barnes and U16 Imogen Farlie.
In a race monopolised by VC Jubilee, Imogen rode very well to take the U16 sprint victory ahead of Amy Jacobs and Michael Dixon. Matthew Hill won the U14 equivalent, with
Kimberley showed an impressive turn of speed to win the single-lap final event, where Matthew was second and Amy Jacobs was third.
At the end of two laps, Luke Stacey stormed home to take the first win, with Amy Smith and Ben O’Brien just behind. In the sprint, Luke came first and Amy was just behind, and now it was the turn of Ted O’Brien to take third. Amy won the last race over one lap, where Douglas McCauley was not far adrift in second and Thomas Burnett came third.
Under 10 / Under 8
Noah won the first U10 scratch race, followed home by Harry Stacey and Bethany Lewis, while the U8s were led in by Rahul
Fortescue-Talwar, with Samuel Nicholson second and Rory Burke third.
The U10 200-metre sprint final was won by Noah, while
The joint block handicap race was won by Noah for his hat-trick of triumphs, this time in front of Harry and Bethany.