am Culverwell rode to victory in round one of the National MTB series with a comfortable win over his fellow junior competitors. The venue at Sherwood Pines was in good condition and had dried out well after the recent winter snow. The first race of the new season is always a bit of an unknown with all the riders just coming out of their winter training programme and with no recent form to go on. Sam was, however, quietly confident having had a good winters training and being in good shape.
Sam was gridded 5th based on his finishing position in the 2017 series, at the gun the race started at the normal frantic pace with every rider looking to get in the lead few ahead of reaching the single track sections of the course. Sam had his usual explosive start and led the race out of the arena on the first of four laps. A lead group of four quickly formed, made up of Sam with Scottish rider Tim Shoreman, Irish rider Thomas Creighton and Marcus Holmes from England, a truly international mix. A good pace was set with the lead being swapped between Culverwell and Holmes, clearly the two strong riders of the quartet. By the end of lap two Shoreman had dropped from the lead three with Culverwell looking the most relaxed of the riders at the head of the race. By the end of lap three Creighton, who had been hanging on for some time, allowed a gap to open on the leading pair and would eventually finish in third spot just over 1 minute behind Culverwell. It was about halfway around the final lap that Culverwell made his decisive move breaking clear of Holmes with a significant increase in speed, underlining how comfortable he was feeling with the earlier race pace. Culverwell crossed the line after just over 66 minutes of racing to finish 21 seconds ahead of Midlands’s rider Holmes.
This was one of Culverwell’s best results in the UK now in his 6th season on the National circuit and taking into account he is now focussing on road racing in 2018 due to absence of MTB events in the Gibraltar Island Games. Afterwards, Sam said he was particularly pleased with the result as this race was rated as level C race on his calendar which means that he had not tapered or prepared specifically for it. Sam’s next race is round 2 of the National Junior Road Race series in just over a weeks time in the Junior Tour of the Mendips.
Also racing for Guernsey on Sunday was Island Games rider Megan Dowinton, currently studying at Chichester University. Megan took part in the Expert women’s category over a 4 lap race. Megan rode a very steady race throughout and admits that training had not been easy in recent weeks due to studying commitments and the weather and with this being her first competitive race of the year predicting her result was not possible. However she placed a very creditable 9th and returned to Chichester very pleased with her performance.