Smith Shines on Race Debut

Chris wins Hoggenberg sprint to take first point, while Peter Stiff claims fine 6th at Battlesbridge

The curtain raiser to East London Velo’s 2017 Winter Series took place at Redbridge Cycling Centre – AKA Hog Hill – on Saturday 7th January with Wheelers Jamie Maidment, Peter Stiff and Chris Smith taking part in the 4th Category race.

Overnight rain and persistent cold, damp air made for far-from-ideal conditions with Jamie noting prior to the race that punctures could be a big factor once the flag dropped. Indeed, his words were to be frustratingly prophetic.
With flints and thorny twigs littering the 2km course, Jamie picked up a flat tyre barely two corners into the 45-minute race. With British Cycling introducing a new ruling that riders can no longer take a lap out to visit the pits, Maidment was made to soldier on at the tail of the field, with Dan Jenkins dashing up to the pits to help him change the wheel quickly and resume the fray.

Peter Stiff was the next to succumb, prompting another dash to the pits by Dan to assist his fellow Wheeler. Meanwhile, Chris Smith was showing no sign of his lack of racing experience as the bunch rolled ever onwards.

As the race began to reach its final phase, Smith’s serene expression began to give way to a grimace as he and his rivals ground up the 10.4% gradient kick-up of the Hoggenberg. Finding himself in the chasing group with five laps to go - Maidment and Stiff by now had joined the spectators after retiring - it was down to Chris to uphold the club’s honour.

A three-way duel developed between him and two other competitors, with the elastic between each of them stretching on the lower part of the course before the Hoggenberg brought them back together again. On the very last lap, Smith picked his moment superbly and kicked up the hill, winning the sprint for 10th place and the last remaining point.

The following day (8th January) saw Peter Stiff back in action - alongside Lesley Pearce, Arthur Knowler and Hannah Kane - in the third round of the Maldon CC Cyclo Cross series, at Battlesbridge.

Mild weather and firm ground inspired a fast and furious pace in the mixed (Junior, Senior, Veteran) category race, right from the outset.

Suffering none of the mechanical or tyre gremlins he’d had the day before, Peter got into the front bunch that escaped the rest of the sixty-strong entry. A solid ride saw him rewarded with an excellent 6th place overall, and first in his age category, at the finish. Hannah and Lesley enjoyed their own private battle, with the former finally besting her club-mate by some margin at the end. Arthur soldiered on doggedly at the rear, perhaps rueing lack of time on the bike prior to the event.

This coming Saturday (14 January) sees the ELV Winter Series return to Hog Hill, while round four of the Maldon Cyclo Cross championship takes place on Sunday 15th, again at Battlesbridge.

For information and advice about starting cycle racing, visit our racing page or e-mail Barry Simpson, our Racing Secretary at

Click here for pdf of this feature in The Echo

Adam Jones
Press Secretary


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