Skipper returns with a bang

PUBLISHED: 10:17 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:30 06 July 2010

LOWESTOFT'S elite road racer, Joe Skipper, has been riding again for Velo Club Baracchi with significant early season success on the outdoor circuit at Hog Hill in east London.

LOWESTOFT'S elite road racer, Joe Skipper, has been riding again for Velo Club Baracchi with significant early season success on the outdoor circuit at Hog Hill in east London.

Before setting off for a week's training in Mallorca, Skipper rode two races on last Saturday week, cleaning up with a win in the handicap race for riders of all categories and riding to second place in the separate National B race.

Nick Esser and Ben McCluskey also rode the handicap race. Esser was optimistic and feeling strong but yet again a puncture just before the end stopped him from being well placed. McCluskey was more off the pace but had a good work-out, probably not yet expecting significant form.

Esser said of the handicap race: “Ben and I set off nearly a minute in front of Joe's group but it was a mere 15 minutes before Joe joined us. He actually spat out his group one-by-one in the chase to our group. He soon set off the front and no-one had the legs to go with him. He won the event on his own - a well deserved win.”

Referring to the National B race he added, “Joe continued that afternoon with another race, this time against better opposition but still he attacked, got off the front with two riders, spat out one and sprinted to the finish but was pipped on the line by Dave Clarke - a very good national level climber.”

Skipper himself was originally expecting to ride with the new Orbea team but that is no longer on the cards so, all being well, he hopes shortly to be able to switch to the Cycles Dauphin racing team.

If successful in that aim, Skipper will join Dan Staite who warmed up for the year with a top ride in the Ely and District Hardriders' 25-mile event in Cambridgeshire, winning by more than a minute from top rival Sam Barker (Planet X) and going within 19 seconds of the course record on a cold morning.

In his new team Skipper will be able to tackle a number of Premier Calendar races during the year in company with team-mates of ability. Perhaps he will have his best season so far.

On Sunday McCluskey and Esser travelled to Colchester to take part in VC Revolution's 50-mile reliability ride.

In near-Arctic conditions they signed up for the "Gold" group, hoping to achieve the distance in two-and-a-half hours. Esser more or less held the pace and finished in a second group just 100 yards behind the first rider home, in about two-and-a-quarter hours, well and truly within the time limit.

McCluskey was waylaid by helping riders who had punctured, offering them assistance and his own tubes. He finished in two hours and 44 minutes despite all that.

Esser said: “With the continuous snow, sleet, wind and rain hypothermia soon set in for a lot of riders and thanks to the promoting club, teas/coffees and an enormous selection of cakes made it feel a little less painful.”

In the VC Norwich 55-mile reliability trial everyone, including Velo Club Baracchi's John Thompson, had to cut the ride short in a localised heavy snowfall that made the roads very unsuitable.

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