Press 

Charles Fletcher (Cairngorm CC) has finally landed the 8km British title that had eluded him on the grass for so long!

 

The Scotsman made an audacious and an unusual move in a race of this length, by attacking with well over half the race to go, in front of an enthusiastic and supportive crowd at the Mildenhall Cycling Mini-Fest on Sunday. After that there was only ever a race for second place which John McClelland (Aerolab Ward WheelZ) made sure of ahead of David Mitchinson (Cinamon Cafe Contour)

 

George Thompson (Nopinz Motip Race Team) was not there to defend the crown he won at Heckington, Lincolnshire in 2019 – the last time it was competed for because of Covid. That is a race though that Fletcher remembers well as he was in the four-man sprint going into the last corner, when the rider in front lost control bringing them all down and he had to settle for the bronze medal.

 

The 28-year-old said after his thrilling win “I thought I was a shoe-in when they last held the 8km when we all got taken out and were put through the fence when someone didn’t have the right tyres on for the conditions. So, I thought for today, I’d just go for it. I waited for them to go hard and then just went over the top of them and hoped that no one would chase. It worked out perfectly!”

From L to R: David Earth (Rose Race Team), David Mitchinson (Cinamon Cafe Contour), Charles Fletcher (Cairngorm CC), John McClelland (Aerolab Ward WheelZ), Oliver Hambrey (Team Huub)

The Scotsman who began racing on his local grass-track at the age of 14 added “I already have 16 Scottish titles to my name over the whole set of distances (800m, 1km, 1600m, 3200m, 4800m, 6400m and 8km) and now won the British 800m title three times, after winning it again at Heckington a month ago. But that’s the only other race I’ve actually done this season. So, coming in to today was bit of an unknown. I did all the training but without racing, you’re not quite sure how it’s going to go.”

 

With covid-19 having caused the cancellation of all of the Highland Games this year, there hasn’t been one single grass-track race in Scotland. Ironically though that meant for the first time ever he could travel to Mildenhall, a meeting he had heard a lot about, as the grass-track racing that his club organises at their local Highland Games wasn’t taking place.

In a nice touch, the newly crowned champion resplendent in his National jersey, later rode around the track with those under 16 who didn’t get a ride, as there weren’t enough to take part in the Go-Ride racing.

 

He nearly produced a double win, but had to settle for second in the National Short Distance League counting event over 600m, behind Tom White (Colchester Rovers).

 

In the morning the Fenland Flyer Gravel Time-Trial, which goes from strength to strength, attracted a full-field. Mark Powell from the Stowmarket based Fast Test Racing Team made the most of the near perfect conditions to fly around the 18km course in just 32minutes 41seconds. He was nearly two minutes quicker than Maciej Malyszka from Kings Lynn’s Velouse Flyers.

 

Local riders Rory Harris (Ely & District CC) and Andrew Hammond (Newmarket Cycling & Triathlon Club) both stopped the clock in 35minutes 10seconds for equal third fastest.

 

The next 15 riders, who completed the mixed course of byways, tarmac and Fenland Droves with sandy, gravel or uneven concrete sections in under forty minutes, were separated by just five minutes.

 

Representing the host club Mildenhall CC, were Mike Felton (41m 57s), Darren Baker (47m 45s) and Rachel Collier (52m 12s)

 

There was a buzz around the site with plenty of people riding to the event to enjoy the racing and a drink and the home-made cake made by members and friends of organising Club, Mildenhall CC.

 

Mark Burchett, Chairman of the Club, said “The covid-19 restrictions forced us to leave it late before making a decision about whether to hold the event and it’s format. But we were rewarded with many familiar faces returning and very pleased with the turnout for a condensed one-day event.”

 

He added “Adding to the buzz and joining those around the grass-track selling from their car-boots were KL Cycles from Kings Lynn on hand to offer mechanical advice and servicing.”

 

The Cycling Mini-Fest was held in and around the Village Hall in West Row, although could not have taken place with out all the volunteers who all helped make it happen.

 

The complete results with pictures are available on www.mildenhallfestival.bike