Bingley’s Rob Jebb won for a record ninth time in 11 races as the 50th annual Three Peaks Cyclo Cross took place in tough conditions last Sunday.
The gruelling 38-mile circuit from Helwith Bridge takes in the peaks of Ingleborough, Whern-side and Pen-y-Ghent and this year attracted 700 riders from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Switzerland. After missing last year’s event though injury, Jebb, who now lives near Kendal, had a three-minute lead by the time he reached the top of Ingleborough and then continued to extend his advantage right to the end of the race.
His finishing time of 3.09.21 put him over ten minutes clear of his nearest rival. Second place went to former National Cyclo Cross champion Paul Oldham in 3.19.55. Third was the 2011 winner Nick Craig in a time of 3.25.02. Craig was also first Vet 40.
John Rawnsley, at the age of 75, is stepping down as race organiser after 50 years of heading the fantastic event. He was hoping for good weather for Sunday’s event – but instead he said it was the worst conditions since 1981 as it rained heavily all day. John took part and won the first race, which he organised in 1961.
There were 35 starters then, compared to this year’s entry list of 700, such is the measure of the race’s success thanks to his work. The difficulty caused by the wet, muddy and windy conditions was reflected in this year’s times.
The second vet 40 in fifth position overall was Scotland’s Dan Whitehead in 3.29.36. The third Male Veteran 40 runner in sixth place overall was the previous two-time race winner Andy Peace from Haworth in 3.29.36.
The first under-23 was Bingley’s Robert Watson in 35th position overall in a time of 3.53.46.
Not far behind was Keighley’s Joe Moses, who was taking part in the race for the first time. He clocked 3.57.20, and in third place was Matthew Fretwell in 4.05.39. The ladies race was won by mountain running champion Victoria Wilkinson from Hebden who was also taking part for the first time.
She clocked 3.59.17 to take a great 47th place overall. Wilkinson said: “Being my first attempt at the race and following in my Dad's footsteps of a past winner, the pressure was on. “I was really nervous before the event but once we got to the ‘off road’ on Ingleborough I relaxed and just put my head down and got on with the job. “The weather, mainly the gale force wind made it even harder although I fortunately didn’t realise how bad the weather was until after.” She added: “All the support i got from everyone was fantastic and certainley spurred me on. “It’s a really hard race to train for as its such a unique event. “However, since the spring I have been mixing running and riding in my training and racing, and enjoying it, doing longer rides too, so the distance wasn't a massive problem for me.” Second lady and first lady vet 40 was last year’s champion Louise Robinson in 4.02.20.
First vet 70 was John Ginley in 5.47.57. He was the only one of the five competitors in this category to complete the course.
Thomas Frischknecht, the former world cyclo cross and mountain bike champion from Switzerland, finished 30th in 3.52.16. Other highly-placed local riders were Neal Crampton (4th), Ian Taylor (10th), Stefan Macina (31st), Seth Smith (38th), John Murfin (33rd), Colin Moses (57th) and Jason Hemsley (78th). In the team event, the winners were Team Hope Factory Racing, made up of winner Jebb, second-placed Oldham and Dave Collins (11th).
Crosstrax took second through Crampton, Peace and Stephen Bottomley (42nd). Third were Craven Energy Triathlon made up of Ian Taylor, Andrew Taylor and Murfin.
Crosstrax also won the first Vet 40 team with Peace, Bottomley and Colin Moses.