For­mosa lands na­tional ti­tle for com­plete sweep

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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.

Fe­male cat­e­gory

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).

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