Eastern Cross Round 15 at Snetterton

20.01.19, Snetterton, Norfolk

Charlie Dash fell hard on her knees shortly after the start and had to abandon – but was, thankfully, fine

Cold weather early on saw frosty conditions for the Under-10s and Under-12s races, but it had vanished from all but the most shaded sections of the circuit by the time the Youth race ended at 11:30. Unfortunately, that made matters worse: frost melting combined with hundreds of grippy cyclocross tyres makes mud, and mud on top of hard ground makes very slippery conditions indeed – after Gemma Melton (PedalPower) launched one of her typical dragster-style starts and immediately took the lead, Jane de Boltz (Ipswich BC) went down on the first corner, landing hard on the left side of her chest, but was able to continue; Charlie Dash (CC Hackney) was right behind her and was not so fortunate – the crash looked nasty with Charlie falling heavily on her right knee which forced her to abandon.  Thankfully, she was ok.

The unusual lay-out of the hurdles, which were placed side-by-side with a tight U-shaped bend to connect them, had caused Jimmy Piper to fall when the Veteran 50+ Men set off a few minutes before the women; however, Melton flew over with no problems and while there was much jostling for position when the bunch arrived nobody experienced difficulties. Gemma won her first ever cyclocross victory early this season after a race-long battle with Push Sport-Barford Van Hire’s Alison Hogg in the fifth round at Princess Helena College in Hertfordshire, then another at Trinity Park in Ipswich two months later where Alison was once again second. In both cases, her extensive road racing experience stood her in good stead and she made full use of the straight sections to apply power and grind down her rivals – she did the same here, extending her lead even from the first lap through the straight and relatively non-technical parts of the circuit before heading into the technical bombhole and the twisty off-camber track around and over the steep-sided bank, where she relied on her bike-handling skills which have noticeably improved over the last couple of seasons and started overtaking the V50 Men. From the end of the first lap her advantage was already great enough that, barring a crash, it looked like the riders chasing her were going to have to settle for the lower steps of the podium.

Lauren Higham leads Alison Hogg and Harley Pell as they overtake another rider in the V50 Men in the barn

That rarely, if ever, makes a race boring, and in this instance there was plenty of action further back. Hogg and Lauren Higham (Liv-AWOL-Spok’d) have really enlivened this season’s series by frequently engaging in their own private battles and did so once again; meanwhile Joanne Newstead (XRT-Elmy Cycles), who rides in the V40 class but, like so many veteran female cyclists, is more than capable of cutting it with riders half her age, was duking it out with Higham’s team mates Harley Pell and Connie Hayes. In among it all, West Suffolk Wheelers’ Laura Brown slipped away and found a small advantage, remaining solo between the first and second groups for the rest of the race.

There really was no stopping Melton, who kept building on her lead for most of the remaining laps and, by the time she approached the end of the seventh, had an advantage only just short of a minute – plenty of time for an elated celebration as she crossed the line. Further back, Higham had judged her reserves perfectly and had just enough left over for one last push, finally leaving Hogg behind for a sprint to second place and first Junior; Hogg never gave up and took a good third place. Brown, still a long way behind them, stayed free of the riders chasing her and took fourth while Newstead’s excellent performance netted her fifth overall and first Vet. Pell, who has ridden superbly well throughout the series and might well have won the seventh round at Mistley had it not have been for a puncture, was second Junior and finished mere seconds behind Newstead – it looks almost guaranteed she’ll win a round outright next season. Sarah Thomas of Colchester Rovers was the fastest 50+ Vet in 15th place, while Christine Hart-Davis was fastest 60+ in 16th.

Gallery below the results

Gemma Melton’s third win of the series was in little doubt even from the first lap

Top Three
1 Gemma Melton (Pedal Power)
2 Lauren Higham (Liv-AWOL-Spok’d)
3 Alison Hogg (Push Sport-Barford Van Hire)
Top Three Juniors
2 Lauren Higham (Liv-AWOL-Spok’d)
6 Harley Pell (Liv-AWOL-Spok’d)
14 Ellie-Mae Pledger (Lee Valley Youth CC)
Top Three V40
5 Joanne Newstead (XRT-Elmy Cycles)
13 Lorna Rodger (Army Cycling Union)
20 Rachel Clarke (Amisvelo)
Top V50
15 Sarah Thomas (Colchester Rovers)
17 Anna Fraser (CC Ashwell)
Top V60
16 Christina Hart-Davies (Stowmarket & District CC)
Top Three Under-10
1 Isabel Beale (Lee Valley Youth CC)
2 Abbey Thompson (Suffolk Youth RT)
3 Ella Stewart (West Suffolk Wheelers)
Top Three Under-12
1 Emily Miller (Cambridge Junior CC)
2 Abigail Biggs (Lee Valley Youth CC)
3 Ella Friedlander (CC Ashwell)
Top Under-14
1 Abigail Miller (WXC)
2 Mia Rutterford (Iceni Velo)
Top Three Under-16
1 Eleanor Bolton (Lee Valley Youth CC
2 Bethany Barnett (Liv-AWOL-Spok’d)
3 Charlotte-Louise McGreevy (Liv-AWOL-Spok’d)
Full Results


Want even more photos? Well, we try to get at least two or three of every rider in every race we photograph – so, we have loads. Simon’s are here, John’s are here.

All photos on this page are © Neutral Service / Simon F. Blackwell / John Lloyd. We’re very easy-going when it comes to terms of re-use, however – if you’d like to use any, or want a high-resolution copy without a watermark, get in touch.