The first round of the North West Points Cyclo-Cross series kicked off in a new venue at Avenham Park in Preston. The course was designed by the Red Rose Olympic team previously responsible for the very muddy Scorton Scramble. However those who remember that event would have been pleasantly surprised by the lack of deep muddy trenches previously on offer. Avenham presents a natural bowl which is part of a listed Victorian park uniquely allowing spectators an almost full view of the whole course. Added attractions included a section coming off the viaduct over the river Ribble which will be part of the Preston Guild wheel, a 20 mile off road cycle specific route around the city which should be completed in time the 2012 Preston Guild celebrations.
The rain held off which was a good job as the course included zigzag climbs and an off camber grassy area along with a stepped section and a small single track run, through a heavily wooded track.
First to try out the new course were the Youth riders. Current national champion Billy Harding took an early lead and extended it as the race went on for a fine win. Second place went to Edwyn Oliver-Evans, with Ashley Clitheroe taking third. A special mention should go to Dylan Kerfoot-Robson who slid off on one of the grassy corners breaking a collar bone whilst chasing the leaders tail. All our best wishes go out to Dylan for a speedy recovery. Abergavenny’s Ffion James secured first place for the girls closely followed by Jessica Wilkinson and Caroline Humphreys.
Joseph Armstrong was the winner of the under 12’s race confidently claiming the win on the very challenging grassy section of the main course. Megan James was the first girl also claiming second overall with Anna Armstrong and Tyler Koch finishing first and second in the under 10’s.
The final race of the day saw the juniors, Seniors, Women’s and Vets race tackle a course which gradually cut up as the laps ticked by. The race was dominated by Hope Factory duo Paul Oldham and Dave Collins finishing first and second closely followed by Noel Clough.
Thanks should go to the race organisers and the many volunteers who made the event happen. Not forgetting Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council and the private landowner who bravely gave permission for us to use the park. Thanks also should go to the competitors for making it a successful event and thank goodness the rain held off ensuring the park remained intact. Let’s hope we can get permission to use the park again in the future.
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Start of the U12 race, and the words ‘dig in’ are muttered immediately as the whistle goes. (!!)