Victory in the final round of the CXNE Rat Race Series went to Morgan Donnelly (Beacon Wheelers) who crossed the line more than a minute ahead of his nearest rival at Caedmon School in Whitby, North Yorkshire, on Sunday.
The 39-year-old, who lives in Appleby-in Westmorland in Cumbria, took victory after shaking off his challenges in the nine-lap race. It was his second victory of the series following a win in round 12, and his fifth podium finish in the league.
The dramatic thaw had left the playing fields very soft, and it was not long before the course turned very muddy.
From the off it was Jonathan Watson (Charge Bikes) who led the field, with Noel Clough (Fietsen Tempo), Steven Ward (MTS Cyclesport), Keith Murray (Scott) and Donnelly hot on his wheel.
By the end of the first lap Murray had hit the front, and after changing to a clean machine Murray attacked his rivals, dropping them all apart from Donnelly.
Later in the race, as Murray changed bikes, Donnelly attacked and gained a small gap which he gradually extended to cross the line 1-11 ahead of Murray, while Ward took third, 3-20 behind Donnelly.
Tyne and Wear Fire Service rider Richard Noble, 43 and from Prudhoe, won the veterans race by more than two and a half minutes from Team Jewson’s Matt Denby, after leading the field virtually from the start.
Best of the women was Beacon Wheelers' Nicola Davies, who was around four minutes ahead of her nearest rival and team-mate, Lucy Donnelly.
And in the youth race, Hetton Hawks rider Matthew Worton used the experience of muddy racing in Belgium before Christmas to good effect and won comfortably from Mark Donovan (Beacon Wheelers) by almost a minute.
Next Sunday sees the inaugural North East Championship being staged at Gateshead Stadium. Races for youths and seniors begin at 1pm, and will be followed by the league’s AGM.
1 Morgan Donnelly (Beacon Wheelers) 56:26
2 Keith Murray (Team Scott) @ 1:11
3 Steven Ward (MTS Cyclesport) @ 3:20
4 Noel Clough (Fietsen Tempo)
5 Alan Nixon (Blackhawk Bikes)
6 Andrew Johnson (Yorkshire Velo)
7 William Brown (Velo 29)
8 Darren Gee (Teesdale CRC)
9 Jonathan Watson (Charge Bikes)
10 Trevor Schofield (Moonglu RT)
1 Richard Noble (Tyne and Wear Fire Service) 41:25
2 Matt Denby (Team Jewson) @ 2:37
3 James Anderson (Blackhawk Bikes) @ 3:05
4 Rob Smith (Derwentside CC)
5 Cliff Featherstone (MTS Cyclesport)
6 Mick Aspey (Northumbria PCC)
7 Elliot Davidson (Cestria Cycles)
8 Andy Moss (Adept Precision RT)
9 Wayne Nicholson (York Cycleworks)
10 Charles Waites (unattached)
Juniors: Elliot Davidson. Women: Nicola Davies (Beacon Wheelers).
1 Matthew Worton (Hetton Hawks) 32:33
2 Mark Donovan (Beacon Wheelers) @ 48sec
3 Joe Mann (Derwentside CC) @ 1:58
4 Thomas Mein (MTS Cyclesport)
5 Joe Howard (Cleveland Wheelers)
6 Scott Wooley (Clifton CC)
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British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.