A top day’s racing in the sun at the Winchester Park & Ride circuit on Sunday for the Sotonia Criterium races. With big crowds watching the action it was an even more successful event than last year with 155 riders across the categories from six year olds to seniors. Sotonia fielded six juniors aged 8 to 16 – fresh from our youth coaching programme in their first races – a proud moment for our coaches Phil and Jez.

The racing started brilliantly with George Connell winning his first ever race in the U8 boys. In the U14/U16 combined race, we had Kit Freeman-Horsfall in the U14s, Sam Kushner and Red Walters in the U16s. All three riding well and gaining valuable first time experience, with Sam finishing a very respectable 9th place in his category.

It just got better from there with the 4th cat race. A big field of 31 riders lined up, featuring six Sotonia riders – Ed Slot, Tom Budden, Chris Moody, David Baxter, Ben Hames and Richard Woods. After a cagey start, the relentless nature of the course began to stretch the elastic and by halfway point, the front group was down to 10 riders – Ed, Tom and Chris near the front and David just off the back, keeping the bunch in sight. It was on the bell that Ed made his move, riding strongly away from the leaders to take the win (that’s two races and two wins for Ed and a swift promotion). Tom and Chris had a great sprint battle for 3rd place, Tom taking it by half a wheel, with Chris now also on the brink of promotion.

In the 3rd cats, we had Phil Wilks, Ben Scott-Munden, James Peckham and Dan Edwards.  The pace was hot from the start in this race and the relentless sprints took their toll on Dan’s TT training and then James who dropped back from the lead group of 15 at the three quarter mark of the race. In the final sprint, Ben, who has been quietly producing top five finishes all season, powered through to 4th place with Phil taking 10th and his first 3rd cat point. Great riding everyone!

A big thank you to so many people who helped out throughout the day especially Penny Cossburn, Julian Gee, Greg Vint, Jim Martin, Gawain Young, Ian Stewart, Dave Crocker, Martin Napier, John Phillips, Phil Connell, Paul Mills and everyone else supplying much appreciated support.

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Graham Robins’ full race report can be found here

Official photos by Graham Robins