Mud and glory as cyclo-cross national championships come to Peel Park (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Mud and glory as cyclo-cross national championships come to Peel Park
Hundreds of cyclists from across the country descended on Bradford this weekend, as the city hosted the National Cyclo-Cross Champion-ships.
The two-day event at Peel Park was described as a huge success that showed the city at its best and further stirred hopes the Tour de France could pass through the district next year.
Freezing temperatures and plenty of mud added to, rather than dampened, the spirits of the hundreds competing or watching some thrilling racing with one event attracting more than 100 competitors.
Saturday saw the under-16 and veterans races, with the under-23s and juniors racing along with the main men’s and women’s events taking place yesterday.
Although the races start and end on tarmac, much of the track was muddy and far from easy to ride on, making it a challenging course for the cyclists.
The park had previously hosted the championships in 2009, and the success of that year’s event made a return to Bradford inevitable, according to championship organiser British Cycling.
This Thursday, towns and cities across Yorkshire will find out if the 2014 Tour de France passes through as part of the Yorkshire leg of the world famous race.
And judging by the cheering crowds this past weekend, the Tour would get a very warm reception.
Peter Sutton, regional events officer for British Cycling, said the championships had seem a huge amount of entrants – 426 over the course of Saturday alone, and a staggering 118 in the veterans’ race.
He said: “The numbers of people racing are massive, just taking into account Saturday is what we get in a normal entire weekend at the championships.
“Bradford Council and the parks department have been really good, I think the parks are one of the success stories of Bradford.
“People have come here from anywhere and everywhere, we have people from Scotland and people from the Cotswolds. A lot of these are staying overnight in local hotels. For every one rider there are probably another three people coming along with them, so you are talking about 2,000 people.
“The temperatures have been freezing, but we have got away with it in the weather department other than that.”
Ian Cleverly is a cyclist who travelled from London to take part in the event.
At 49, he was racing for the last time in the veterans’ 40-49 category on Saturday afternoon, representing Mosquito Bikes. He said: “Peel Park is a great venue. Yorkshire is synonymous with cycling – it is the heart of cycling culture in the UK and long may it remain.
“It is busy today, but tomorrow there will be double the amount of people.”
Vera Martin, 46, of Bradford, came to see her niece Rosa Martin race in the under-16s girls’ category. She said: “It’s been a really nice day. It’s very exciting, especially with the Tour de France coming up next year.
“Events like this should definitely happen more often in Bradford, it’s great for the city. I’ve seen a lot of people in caravans and motorhomes, so they will be spending money here.
“It’s good to see Bradford’s parks being used for something like this, because the parks are amazing.”
He said: “It is fantastic to have a national event in Bradford. There are people here from all over the country, as well as a lot of local racers.
“There is a big crowd today, and that is just for the juniors and veterans.”
He hopes that Thursday’s announcement will reveal a local route for the Tour de France.
He said: “It is a really strong area for cycling, so it would be nice if we get a piece of the action.”