Harry favourite in Re­druth af­ter se­cond in York

CY­CLING COL­UMN

Herald Express - - Marketplace - BY DAVID THOMAS

Harry Birchill will be a hot favourite to re­tain his South West Ju­nior Cy­clo-Cross crown when the cham­pi­onships are held at Re­druth School, Corn­wall, on Sun­day.

The 17-year-old for­mer na­tional ju­nior cross-coun­try moun­tain bike cham­pion from New­ton Ab­bot warmed up with a bat­tling se­cond place in the lat­est round of the Na­tional Tro­phy Se­ries at York at the week­end.

Be­cause he had missed pre­vi­ous rounds and the points that went with them – he was win­ning a bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Ar­gentina last month – Birchill of Mid-Devon Cy­clc­ing Club had to start near the back of the grid.

But he worked his way through the 52-strong field, record­ing the fastest lap of the race along the way, and fi­nally fin­ished run­ner-up to Great Bri­tain squad rider Si­mon Wylie of Hale­sowen by only ten sec­onds.

That per­for­mance might be good enough to get Birchill into the GB team for forth­com­ing World Cup races in Eu­rope.

This week­end he would have pre­ferred to race with the Se­nior riders at Re­druth, as he did when he beat ev­ery­one in last year's cham­pi­onships at Paign­ton's Clen­non Val­ley.

But he will line up with the Veter­ans (Over-40s) and Ladies in­stead, which might not be too bad, as many of the best Se­nior riders in the re­gion are Vets any­way, in­clud­ing the in-form Pol­ish-born Jacek Nowak.

Nowak con­firmed his well-be­ing with a fine sev­enth place in the Over-40s race at the York Tro­phy round. Birchill's main ju­nior pur­suers are ex­pected to be Mid-Devon team­mate Tris­tan Davies, who hails from St Agnes in the Duchy, and tal­ented young Ply­moth­ian Oliver Allen of the Pil­grim Fly­ers club.

Ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sional road racer Steve Lampier (Saint Pi­ran) should be hard to beat in the Se­nior Men's cham­pi­onship.

Mid-Devon's Cathy Kil­burn was the first Vet Women (Over-50s) rider at York, so she is clearly in good form for the Re­druth test, along with the three lead­ers of the SW CX Se­ries – Al­ice Stan­ford (un­at­tached), Catri­ona Ross (Brid­port) and Mid-Devon's Jackie Shute.

Mid-Devon 'su­per­vet' Robin Delve will miss this week­end's South West Cy­clo-Cross Cham­pi­onships for a very good rea­son – he will be on the con­ti­nent de­fend­ing his World Mas­ters ti­tle.

Delve pre­pared for his trip to the Worlds in Mol, Bel­gium, by fin­ish­ing se­cond in the Vet­eran Over-50s race at the Na­tional Tro­phy round in York at the week­end.

The only man to beat him was the re­doubtable Dave McMullen (Cotswold Veldri­j­den), while Delve was win­ning his 60-64 years age-group 'rain­bow jer­sey' last year, McMullen was lift­ing the 65-69 years ti­tle.

Both are re­turn­ing to Mol to de­fend their crowns with Delve, from Long­down near Ex­eter, hav­ing planned his whole rac­ing sea­son around the Worlds – just as he did so suc­cess­fully last year.

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