Formosa lands national title for complete sweep
The MTB XC national championship organised by the Malta Mountain Bike Association and gently sponsored by THE CYCLIST took place recently at the outskirts of Mgarr.
Thirty five participants - the highest number this season - were split into five different categories (Elite x 6 laps, Open x 4 laps, Ladies x 3 laps, Masters x 3 laps, Juniors x 3 laps) The race also attracted a large crowd of enthusiasts who managed to create a great atmosphere by giving their continuous and vociferous encouragement to all participants along the rocky and highly technical 4.5km track.
The Elite race was the most hotly contested with the likes of Formosa (THE CYCLIST), Mark Bonnici (AGONES SFC), Patrick Scicluna (MOSTA), Ramon Grech (AGONES SFC) and Etienne Bonello (GREENS) all capable of challenging for the title.
The race was on from the first pedals stokes as dust flew in the air from the biting thread of the tyres.
Formosa and Bonnici took the front followed closely by Scicluna and Bonello with Grech trailing a few metres behind.
By the end of the 1st lap, Formosa and Bonnici opened a gap on the rest of the field as Scicluna followed in third place.
Eventually Bonello managed to finish the race in 4th place with Grech settling for 5th after surpassing the latter in the 5th lap while Scicluna managed to defend his lead to cruise into 3rd place in 1:21:44.
Meanwhile the battle for the title between Formosa and Bonnici came to an exciting end into the final couple of laps as Formosa charged away from Bonnici following a technical section.
Formosa hammered onto the pedals crossing the line victorious in 1:18:28, 45 seconds ahead of Bonnici.
The Open category was contested over 4 laps with a couple of riders having to withdraw at the early stages of Lap 1 either due to component breakdown and/or flat tyre.
Mark Micallef (THE CYCLIST) capped another impressive performance following his return to the MTB circuit a week earlier winning this category with an overall timing of 57:36:14 with Liran Ben Ari (AGONES SFC) finishing 2nd at 1:01:01.38 and Gerry Said (AGONES SFC) completing the podium in 3rd place with a timing of 1:02:35.65.
With defending champion Marie Claire Aquilina not contesting the female category, three riders contested the ladies category with Danica Bonello Spiteri (TEAM GREENS) completing the 3 laps in 1:00:06 thereby completing a clean sweep of honours following her claim on the NPS LADIES category title last week.
Marion Pullicino (AGONES SFC) finished 2nd in 1:07:14.75 and Michelle Vella Woods (TEAM GREENS) claiming third place in 1:33:36.26.
Two new categories were introduced for this event – Masters (40+) and Juniors (U/18) with both categories being contested by a good number of participants - Italian rider Enrico Bradamente maintained a good pace winning the Masters category in 44:16:36 with Paul Magri (MOSTA CC) finishing 2nd in 50:35:32 after recuperating from a bad fall in the 2nd lap and Paul Zarb (THE CYCLIST) in 3rd at 51:43.52, the latter completing the last lap with a damaged rear gear changer.
The XC National Champion title for the MASTERS category was officially awarded to Paul Magri, being the best placed Maltese national in this category.
The Juniors U/18 category was won by Brandon Sultana (GOZO CYCLING CLUB) completing the 3 laps in 46:47.77 with Nicholas Attard Montaldo (THE CYCLIST) and Sean Enriquez (MOSTA CC) finishing respectively in 2nd (49:01.48) and 3rd (1:06:56.57).