FORMOSA AND AQUILINA CONTINUE TO LEAD THE WAY AT MIZIEB
Trustmoore Cross Country National Point Series returns for second race
As the 2020 mountain bike season gets underway, the Malta Mountain Bike Association is in full gear and providing crowd pulling events as could be seen in Mi?ieb on Sunday. The second race of the. 2020 Trustmoore Cross Country Series saw close to 90 riders take part.
Encouragingly, there was a strong presence from younger riders taking part in the Under 12 and Under 15 categories. This inlcuded an impressive contingent of Gozitan riders, representing Gozo Cycling Club, Shamrock Stars and TriGozo who braved a very early crossing to take part and represent Gozo in almost all categories.
The Mi?ieb course is famed for its technical turns, single tracks and steep uphills. This year, the Association redesigned the route which included a number of new single trail tree sections which make it more challenging for riders who attempt to secure a place in the front of the pack.
Despite a fast start from a pack led by Mark Bonnici (Agones SFC), Mark Zammit (Mosta AF Sign Studio) and Etienne Bonello (Team Greens), Maurice Formosa (The Cyclist) quietly moved ahead to maintain his standing as top rider keeping his place in the very front of the Elite pack. Yet, Formosa should not let his guard down as Brandon Sultana (Gozo Cycling Club) has come a long way and is slowly creeping up behind him. On Sunday only a minute separated the two. Sultana too had to contend with an assertive Mark Zammit, who clearly was trying to make up for the first race’s disappointment at having missed out on a podium place for a few milliseconds. By the end of the six-lap course, Formosa, Sultana and Zammit took their first, second and third places, respectively, on the podium.
The largest category saw twenty one participants take part and was not without action – particularly due to the number of technical problems and flat tyres along the way. The first lap saw Ariel Cruz (Shamrock Stars) lead the pack followed by Saviour Spiteri Peregin and James Hutchins (Mosta AF Sign Studio). However as the race progressed and with it some spectacular tumbles places were changing resulting in Hutchins finishing first. He was followed by Cruz and Gordon Zahra (BRC Wheel Wizard).
Agones SFC Rider Dennis Dolci shot out at the start followed by fellow Agonian Ramon Grech and Team Berria Racing Italia rider Patrick Scicluna. Throughout the four lap course, however it was Scicluna who registered the best timings and going on to register his second win for the season. Nevertheless, second placed Ramon Grech (Agones SFC) did his best to give Scicluna a run for his money. In third place was fellow Agonian Dennis Dolci, who took his first podium for the season.
Agones SFC rider Enrico Bradamante registered a clear win with an advantage of nearly four minutes over second placed Gejtu Catania. Behind Catania was David Pace. Pace, who occupied second place for the first half of the race, encountered technical issues which saw him run a good part of the last lap yet still managed a third place.
A minor crash at the very start of the race saw top female rider Marie Claire Aquilina (Team Greens) fall back from the front of the pack and fellow Team Greens rider Danica Bonello Spiteri take an initial lead. Yet, never to be deterred from such setbacks Aquilina’s determination and skill saw her push her way to the front to lead the category and gain a six minute advantage over Bonello Spiteri. There was a narrower gap between Bonello Spiteri and third placed Fiona Darmanin Tedesco (Mosta AF Sign Studio) with the latter finishing the race less than a minute and a half later.
It was a two horse race between Clyve Chetcuti (Mosta AF Sign Studio) and Darren Sultana (Gozo CC), with Chetcuti retaining the lead throughout.
The Race also welcomed a good group of Novice and young riders - under the age of 15 and 12; These categories undertook a shortened course, which nevertheless offered a good challenge for them.
Medals were presented to the winners at the end of the race. Present for the medal giving ceremony was main sponsor Trustmoore’s representative -Stefan Sluijter who also took part in the Sport Category and who expressed his satisfaction not just for the race course but also the organisation and atmosphere throughout.
“It was another good day at the office! One can clearly see the hard work put in by members of the committee and some riders who give their time voluntarily to make sure that the race experience is top notch and a memorable for riders. We were particularly thrilled to see many Gozitan riders cross the channel, on Carnival weekend, and join in the fun. The future is definitely looking bright for our sport! “explained Pierre Zammit Endrich, President, Malta Mountain Bike Association.
The Malta Mountain Bike Association Cross Country National Point Series is sponsored by Trustmoore Corporate Services and supported by Malta Nutrition (Powerbar) and The Cyclist who offered technical assistance throughout the race.
The third race of the 2020 Trustmoore Cross Country National Point Series takes place on Sunday 15th March and will be held at the Majjistral Nature and History Park. Further information can be found on www.maltamountainbike.org
Photo Credit: Angie Conti