Red Rose ‘Cross – Hoghton Tower – Report, result and pics

Jack Humphreys - winner of the senior event

Jack Humphreys – winner of the senior event [pic: Tyla Loftus]

High on a hill in the heart of the Red Rose County the North West Cyclo-Cross League kicked of its series at the grade 1 listed country house, Hoghton Tower, near Preston.  The course had everything with the usual fast grass, tarmac, hard packed trails, wooded single track and off camber slopes, but with an added bonus of cobbles and a continental style indoor barn section where riders needed to dismount to scale stone steps or bunny hop out, which was a popular spot for spectators.

The long uphill tarmac drive helped to thin the riders out on the approach to the main house for all races.  The youth riders were first off with the race dominated by Furness Future Flyers and Cycle Sport Pendle (CSP) riders but with Adam Hartley, Velocity WD-40 coming out on top after a close battle with Nathan Hawthorn and Cory Edmondson from CSP taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.  Lucy Horrocks, Hope Factory Racing opened her North West account with a win in the Youth Female race with Nicole Clark, Birkenhead North End (U14) placing highly overall in second and Corrine Side, Bolton Hot Wheels taking 3rd.

The under 12’s tackled a shorter course but also had the chance to experience the indoor barn section.  As always a very competitive race seeing Aidan Lawrence, Eastlands Velo, taking the win from Matthew Baptista, Mid Lancs BMX and Benjamin Peatfield, Bolton Hot Wheels in 3rd.  First home for the female rides were Niamha Albones, Liverpool Century, 2nd place went to Erin Corrigan, Mossley CRT and Nancye Roberts Salt Ayre Cog Set came in 3rd.

The Under 10’s race confirmed that the sport can only get bigger in the future with nearly 50 riders racing in front of the spectacular backdrop.  There were prizes and awards galore for all with the top placed boy Scott Fisher, Furness Future Flyers and first girl Lily Brindle Mid Lancs BMX collecting winners yellow jerseys and gold medals.

From the young to the not so young – the Veterans race was next including women and junior women.  This was the biggest field of the day and tested the capacity of the course and the skills of its riders.  Adrian Lawrence, Team Elite dominated the race leading from start to finish.  Coming from a very full and successful XC season his form and fitness really showed.  Zepnat’s Pete Middleton and Jason Tongue, Lancashire RC battled it out for the other 2 podium spots with Pete taking second.  First female was Martha Gill (Junior) PH-MAS Cycling with Ruth Gammell, Macclesfield Wheelers and Julie Phelan, Club Goldtech 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The finale was delivered by the senior race with a strong field including many who had travelled in from outside the region to get their season off to a competitive start.  Again a very fast sprint up the tarmac climb helped to string out the riders for the first turn and then slalom decent into the wooded section.  Jack Clarkson Hope Factory Racing and Jack Humphreys Wheelbase Altura MGD pulled away from the bunch after the first half lap taking very different lines through the technical stages.  Giles Drake Leisure lakes, last year’s North West champion, followed about 15 seconds behind.  By lap 2 Clarkson and Humphreys had exchanged the lead on a number of occasions with Drake’s strong endurance beginning to show as he gradually caught the back of the pair.  Clarkson then made a decisive move and gapped Humphreys pulling out a 10 second lead, Drake took an unplanned pit stop to deal with a tyre issue which left the 3 split for the first time in the race.  Local rider Humphreys seemed to take encouragement from the spectators and gained ground over the final stages bunny hopping the exit from the barn in spectacular style and gradually closing the gap to Clarkson who slipped in the final section enabling Humphreys to take a very close win.  Further back the were fine performances from the juniors with a close battle for first place between Joseph Peatfield, Horwich CC who took the win from Tom Clarke, Red Rose Olympic  with Ryan Ashcroft taking 3rd.

Big thanks has to go to the club and league volunteers, Elena  Faraoni who kindly allowed us to use the venue and all the riders who made it a spectacular day out – see you next year.

Reporter: Gail Porter, Red Rose Olympic