Lichfield Festival Sprint Challenge

Lichfield Festival Sprint Challenge

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Lichfield Festival 2009 Cycling Sprint Challenge

Story posted July 21, 2009

The sport of cycle racing made its debut at the Lichfield Festival Dash last Saturday. Fine weather and an assembled field of talented young cyclists ensured everything was set for a dazzling show of speed and skill. Each of the four teams had been sponsored by local businesses. Team Freedom Cycles was sponsored by Lichfield’s newest cycle shop, Freedom Cycles and were resplendent in their blue jerseys. Teepee Wiring Looms sponsored Team Teepee and were ready to race in red. Sanders Cycles of Chasetown represented by Team Sanders, dazzled in their iconic Yellow Jerseys.  Team Go-Ride, the final team, was sponsored by British Cycling. the sports governing body.

The four riders of each team prepared to thrill the crowds in a sprint relay.  The first leg of the race, was started by riders who compete in the Under 8’s category.  The 1 lap circuit was led by Lewis Askey of Team Go-Ride followed by Daniel Cooper of Team Sanders Cycle.  The battle for 3rd and 4th was between Team Teepee’s, Toby Barnes and Adam Stanley of Team Freedom Cycles.

Going into lap two, Team Go-Ride were building a strong lead as Sophie Capewell raced away. Behind her it was status quo as Amy Selibas (Sanders) Archie Scott (Freedom) and Harry Yates (Teepee) vied for positions. It was up to Emily Capewell, to hold the lead for Team Go-Ride on the 3rd lap, a glance behind on the first corner showed her that there were no riders close by. 

Setting off in pursuit of her was the track specialist of Freedom Cycles, Paige Millward. Sallie Birchall of Team Sanders followed hotly pursued by Isabelle Clarke from Team Teepee. These four riders would hand over for the final lap to the Under 14’s.  The cheering and shouts of encouragement from the crowd as riders battled up the incline from Dam Street to the handover point in front of the Cathedral raised the expectations on the riders for the final lap.

Team Go-Ride’s Jacob Kelly led off with 5 second advantage over Sam Birchall of Freedom Cycles. Isabelle Clark of Team Teepee had ensured that Will Hyde set off in 3rd spot followed by the experienced Luke Selibas of Team Sanders. In the end Kelly held off Birchall to ensure Team Go-Ride’s victory in a timer of 2 minutes 55 seconds. Team Freedom cycles finished in 2 minutes 58 seconds. Team Freedom cycles finished in 2 minutes 58 seconds. Selibas of Team Sanders had made a supreme effort to finish in 3 minutes 15 seconds, just 1 second ahead of Hyde from Team Teepee.

The riders thought their racing was over but a last minute change to the programme by Event organiser, Kevin Wilson changed that. The Junior Relay Race offered a short rest for the cyclist as they prepared to race the Italian Pursuit. This event, popular in Track Racing demand discipline, skill and stamina to participate in, but provides for high-octane racing. This was certainly the case as all 16 riders set off to race.

In this event the lead rider of each team completed 1 lap of the circuit and then droped out of the race after giving a 100% effort. This pattern is repeated until just one rider from each team remained to contest the final lap. Team Go-Ride got off to a great start and established a lead over the other three  teams, riding in formation, the team led over the next two laps but were being hotly pursued by the other teams.

Spectators sensed that the riders were given their all as they raced the sweeping bends and surprising inclines of the Cathedral Close. The shouts and screams from the spectators clearly motivated Millward of Freedom cycles and the gap closed on Team Go-Ride. As Kelly and Birchall commenced the final lap the crowd knew they were going to be treated to a sprint finish. Meanwhile a strong ride from Clarke of Team Teepee had brought them up into 3rd place over Team Sanders.  The battle for 3rd and 4th was going to be close as well.

Kelly led to the sweeping bend at the rear of the Cathedral but too wide a line meant that Birchall seized the opportunity to dart through on the inside. The experienced track cyclist from Newcastle-under-Lyme used his sprinting strength to advantage and despite Kelly’s best efforts; Birchall crossed the line first by a wheel length, for Team Freedom Cycles.

Close behind Selibas and Hyde were equally close but the experienced Selibas out sprinted Hyde to take 3rd place for Team Saunders over Team Teepee. Phil Kelly, the organiser of the cycling races, from Friary Grange Leisure Centre said “the skill and speed of these young cyclists was astounding and the buzz of excitement from the crowd must surely mean that cycle racing, will become a permanent feature of the Festival Dash Event”.

Grateful thanks are expressed to Sanders Cycles of Chasetown, Teepee Wiring Looms, Freedom Cycles of Lichfield and British Cycling. Truly Personal Gifts from Curborough Craft Centre are also thanked for their help in the printing of the cycle jerseys.