Harry favourite in Redruth after second in York
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.