West Suffolk February Cross, Sunday 5 February 2023
The UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide ended on the same day as the West Suffolk Cross at West Stow – and while there were no rainbow jerseys to be won, there was plenty to play for in the final round of the 2022-23 Eastern Cyclocross League.
There was a light frost first thing at West Stow as Giles Prime and his team from WSW put the finishing touches to the course, running in the opposite direction from the November fixture. That soon cleared as the sun came out, giving us a day of fast racing on a dry course.
This being the last round of the 2022-23 Eastern Cyclocross League, many league positions had been decided, but the Under 12 and Men’s Vet 40 titles were still up for grabs.
Kacper Gabka won the U10 race, followed by Jasper Hallam (Cambridge Junior CC) and Marley Aldwinckle (Welwyn Wheelers), with Alana Barden-Beatty (Colchester Rovers) first U10 girl, followed by Isobel Crichton and Laila McCarthy. Jasper and Alana took the overall U10 league titles. WSW were represented by brothers Samuel Ollenbuttel (U8) and James Ollenbuttel (U10).
In the Under 12 age group, Lukas Humplik (Kettering CC) won from Frank Spauls (Iceni Velo) and Baily Groombridge (Norwich Racing Team) with Elizabeth Whall (Colchester Rovers) the first Girl and 6th overall. Harriet Butcher (Lee Valley Youth CC) didn’t race on the day but was the overall U12 league winner, with Frank and Baily finishing as 1st and 3rd U12 Boys.
Thomas Lewis had wrapped up the Youth Boys league title the previous week at Milton. From the start a group of 4 formed of Lewis (Ely & District CC), Charlie Coad-Bell (St Ives CC), Michael Swindells (Iceni Velo) and Isaac Starmer (Colchester Rovers). As Lewis upped the pace on the 2nd lap the group gradually split. Sam Brook battled with Lochlan Dyer (Lee Valley Youth CC), pulling away on the last lap to finish 7th. Isabel Beale finished first U14 girl (and 9th overall), managing a clean sweep of wins in League races over the season.
Greg Simcock (CC Luton) took the Vet50 men’s race ahead of Ian Newby (Diss & District CC) and Brian Stanley. Greg took the overall league title, with Ian finishing 3rd. Keith Randle (not racing this week) finished runner-up in the league. It was great to see so many Wheelers in the Vet50 race, namely: Paul Watson – 5th overall, 2nd Vet60, Jason Fowler – 14th, Peter Golding – 17th overall and 3rd Vet60, Kevin Burton – 20th, Shaun Woodley – 52nd, Malcolm Macfarlane – 53rd, Nick Rush – 58th, Will Tate – 64th.
In the Vet40 men’s race Ross Tricker (Vicious Velo) took the win, from Matthew Webber (Forest Side Riders) and Stuart Pryce (DAP Cycling Club), with Ross winning the season-long battle with Stuart for the overall league title. Simon Christie continued his consistent form to finish 24th, with Stephen Brook 42nd.
European Age Group champion Katy Simcock (Trek Bike Club) won the Women’s race from Elvita Branch (XRT – Elmy Cycles) and Alison Hogg. Laura Prime was as composed as usual finishing 5th, Megan Free had a superb start (up to 4th coming into the woods on the first lap) eventually finishing 11th, with Nicki Davis 18th.
Harley Gregory was the only Wheeler in the men’s Senior & Junior race, finishing 11th overall and 2nd Junior – behind Harry Howlett (Origin Race Team) and one place ahead of Toby Pullan (Cambridge Junior CC). Callum Laborde put on an exhibition ride for the overall win, finishing 2:56 ahead of Joshua Jones (ALL IN Racing) and Kieran Jarvis. James Madgwick didn’t race on the day, but took the overall League win. The day’s race result left Laborde and Jarvis tied on league points, with Laborde taking 2nd place owing to his superior result in this the final race of the season.