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Sampson shows her strength to win Winter Series race in Thetford Forest

Women’s winner Laura Sampson leads Simon Hime in Thetford Forest. Picture: JOHN STYLES

Women's winner Laura Sampson leads Simon Hime in Thetford Forest. Picture: JOHN STYLES

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There was a third consecutive win for Laura Sampson (Sussed Out/Mondraker) at the Winter Series mountain bike races near Brandon where she won the Veteran Female 90 minute race, writes Fergus Muir.

The start of the 90-minute race in Thetford Forest. Picture: FERGUS MUIRThe start of the 90-minute race in Thetford Forest. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

What’s more, Laura was faster than Senior (18-39) winner Elvita Branch, who nevertheless also clocked up her third win.

Thetford Racing’s course for the third round was in Thetford Forest between Brandon and the Shaker’s Road. It used many favourite and flowing forest trails which ran very smoothly and resulted in race speeds that were unusually fast for MTB races.

Also added in were several new bits of singletrack, which were soft and loamy under wheel and thus rather hard work. However the 276 competitors will have rolled them nicely by the end of the race, so they represent a good investment for future events

Conditions were overcast and grey but the trees provided shelter from the wind, except, as luck would have it, for those gallantly helping in the pits, who were exposed to the full blast.

Entrants could choose either three-hours or 90 minutes racing. By far the largest entry – 126 riders - was from Men over 40, choosing the shorter option.

Duncan Ryan from the Bildeston-based LCUK team laps slower rider at Thetford Forest. Picture: JOHN STYLESDuncan Ryan from the Bildeston-based LCUK team laps slower rider at Thetford Forest. Picture: JOHN STYLES

Three riders were still in contention all the way to the finish where Ben Findlay outsprinted Kenninghall rider Chris Hunter in a wheel-to-wheel dash while Nick Ainsworth (Aerocycles Haverhill) finished just three seconds later.

The Senior leaders were quicker – but not by much. Winner Ryan Henry finished only three minutes ahead of Findlay.

Henry had been in a group with Will Dorsett and Adam French and on the two long climbs close to the end of the lap Dorsett had opened a gap. He led out of the final corner but unclipped his foot in the dash for the line and Henry seized his chance and took the win.

Dorsett, French and Henry have now won one round each of the Winter Series with just a final race on Shouldham Warren remaining.

In the three-hour race the male winners were Richard Jones (Renvale) in the Seniors and Paul Ashby (KLMTB) for the Veterans. Paul Watson of West Suffolk Wheelers was third and clubmate Paul Vickers fourth while top finishers from series sponsor Revel Outdoors of Bury St Edmunds were Will Mitcham (21st) and Darren Styles (24th).

Julian Bosley (Stowmarket & District) followed by Simon Hime in Thetford Forest. Picture: JOHN STYLESJulian Bosley (Stowmarket & District) followed by Simon Hime in Thetford Forest. Picture: JOHN STYLES

Oliver Brinkley held off a fast-closing Josh Boyer (Ipswich BC) in the U16s. For full results see www.timelaps.co.uk

Many local cyclo-cross competitors crossed the Thames to sample top-level racing at the National Championships which at the Cyclopark complex near Gravesend.

The course opened with a long stretch of the road circuit which enabled the large fields to sort themselves out, and also finished on the hard surface.

In between there was much off-camber on the sides of earth bunds which, in the dry conditions, were not quite so challenging as they would have been in the wet.

Gemma Melton (Pedal Power Ipswich, 18th) was top Eastern League finisher among 36 finishers in the women’s championship while Lauren Higham – took 13th place in the separate race for Junior women.

Ipswich U16 rider Josh Boyer chasing hard in Thetford Forest. Picture: FERGUS MUIRIpswich U16 rider Josh Boyer chasing hard in Thetford Forest. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Cam Hurst (XRT/Elmy) was 37th in a massive field – 102 finishers were classified – in the Senior men, where League riders included Connor Rumbles (44th) and Kieran Jarvis (45th). Among the Junior men were Angus Toms (27th) and Jack Parrish (35th).

Racing the previous day there were 32 classified finishers in the Vets 60-plus race, where West Suffolk Wheeler Pater Golding took 12th place. The Vets 50-plus result included local riders Richard Muchmore (Renvale, 17th) and Dave Copland (Ipswich BC, 48th.

In the Under 16s Martha Lebentz (21st) was top Suffolk finisher among the Girls while among the Boys Charlie Johnson (Stowmarket & District) was 17th, one place ahead of Colchester rider Daniel Hall.

This Sunday the VC Baracchi have a 100 km Reliability Trial with progressively faster groups starting from Oulton Community Centre, Oulton Broad between 8.30 and 9.30 am.

Further details from: John Thompson johntommo6@abtinternet.com.

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