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MT 22 January 2020 Midweek

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20 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 22 JANUARY 2020 MOUNTAIN BIKING SPORTS THE Malta Mountain Bike Asso- ciation kicked off the 2020 Cross Country National Point Series in Ta' Lippija, Mgarr area on Sun- day. The first race attracted a record number of participants who took part in various categories, includ- ing the new Novice Class aimed towards attracting more riders to the sport. With near perfect conditions, a few muddy tracks and a few tech- nical climbs, there was no limit to the effort put in by those taking part. Competing with the local cy- clists, were also a group of Lat- vian cyclists who regularly visit Malta this time of year for a train- ing camp. First to hit the tracks were the Under 12s, Under 15s and Nov- ice categories, all of whom tack- led the shorter three lap course to the cheers of the enthusiastic crowd present. There was also participation in the E-Bikes category, however at time of going to press the result in this Category was still under review. Elite Maurice Formosa (The Cyclist) shone as he shot out of the start line, keen to ensure a comforta- ble position leading the fourteen strong pack. Behind him Bran- don Sultana (Gozo CC), Jason Vella (Agones SFC) and Mark Zammit (Mosta AF Sign CC) were eager to stave off Formosa's attempts. With Formosa having a two minute advantage, a battle was taking place behind him for the second and third podium places - a fight to the finish ensued be- tween Sultana, Vella and Zammit who all give noteworthy perfor- mances. Yet in the end it was Sul- tana and Vella who made it to the podium. Sport The largest category for the day, saw the top podium placing being taken by Latvian riders - Udris Haralds and Urlvis Bern- zis. In third place was Ack Hili (Agones SFC). The trio took the lead throughout, though places were often being changed along the way. Masters 40+ Team Beria Racing Italia Rider Patrick Scicluna, dominated the race throughout, gaining a lead of nearly four minutes over second placed Paul Zarb (The Cyclist), who was followed in third place by Eduard Rens. Masters 50+ Enrico Brandamante (Agones SFC) was a clear winner in this category - a regular participant, Brandamante maintained the lead throughout, followed by David Pace and newcomer to the Series - Raphael Fenech Ad- ami. Juniors It was a close battle in the first three laps for Clyve Chetcu- ti (Mosta AF Sign Studio) and Gozitan Stefan Scerri with just seconds separating the two. The defining laps where the fourth and fifth when Chetcuti gained over a minute advantag- es over Scerri, who had to tackle some technical issues. In third place was fellow Gozo CC team mate Darren Sultana. Ladies Sunday's Race saw the largest participation in this category for quite a while. Despite a bit of an inauspicious start, Marie Claire Aquilina (Team Greens) contin- ued to show her prowess, win- ning the race with a comfortable advantage. The biggest surprise of the race was Fiona Darmanin Tedesco (Mosta AF Sign Studio) who de- spite competing against the likes of Team Green riders Danica Bonello Spiteri and Lara Butti- gieg, who were regular podium finishers in last year's season, gave a determined performance throughout and finished in third place. Bonello Spiteri's undisputed experience enabled her to slowly edge Darmanin Tedesco to sec- ond place by a mere two seconds. The Association expressed its gratitude towards the Authorities for supporting the event. In its at- tempt to limit single use plastics, the Association provided water dispensers which enabled riders to fill their own bottles without the need for use of disposable cups. "We hope that Sunday's race provides a good kick start to the season - we have seen 77 rid- ers take part - the largest group ever. We are thrilled to see that the Novice category was well received and the Association's objective - that to attract more members to the fold, seems to have been achieved" enthused Pierre Zammit Endrich, Presi- dent of the Malta Mountain Bike Association. "The competitive levels be- tween riders in all categories seems to keep rising, making it an enjoyable morning for the spec- tators that were present enjoying the action". The Cross Country National Point Series, are sponsored by Trustmoore Corporate Servic- es and supported by Malta Nu- trition, Powerbar, H20nly and Magri Cycles who offered techni- cal support throughout the race. The next race of the Series will take place on Sunday 23rd Febru- ary in Mizieb. More information can be obtained by visiting www. Formosa, Aquilina race to victory in Mgarr Trustmoore Cross Country National Point Series kicks off to record participation Maurice Formosa and Marie Claire Aquilina (Photo: Kieran Borg)

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