THOUSANDS of cyclists and spectators descended on Mildenhall to help celebrate the 26th anniversary of the Mildenhall Rally over the August bank holiday weekend.
Despite a deluge of torrential rain blighting the event, more than 4,000 people enjoyed an action-packed three-day mixed programme of fun and serious racing as some of the UK’s best grass-track riders show cased their talents in a number of races.
The biggest winner of the weekend was Rowan Elliott, of VC St Raphael, who won the highly-anticipated British Cycling National 800m Grass-Track Championship, while the host club were also well represented by members competing in a number of events.
Including James Carrington, who raced to an impressive 10th-place finish in the six to seven years children’s duathlon, Colin Mantle, who finished seventh in the under-10 juvenile omnium and Josh Murad, who clinched eighth in the under-12s cyclo-cross.
There was also strong participation in the rally’s go-ride run, organised by West Suffolk Wheelers and Triathlon Club, which attracted 50 children aged between four and 16.
On the touring front, the audax rides were strongly contested by more than 200 cyclists, including 21 who took up the challenge of the 300km ride, which started at 4am.
Mark Burchett, chairman of Mildenhall Cycling Club, said: “The whole weekend was fantastic and it was certainly watched by one of the biggest crowds we have ever had.
“We have a tried and tested formula and that has allowed us to remain successful.
“The rally is so well established now that everyone within cycling knows of it and people continually keep coming back year after year.
“We will always have one national championship and that allows us to attract top track cyclists and everyone has commented on the high standard of racing.
“We never thought the rally would be as successful as it is now but it has really put Mildenhall on the map.”
The nation was captivated as Team GB followed up their dominance of Beijing fours years ago in London this summer, clinching a total 12 medals, including eight golds on the track and road with Mildenhall Cycling Club gold member Victoria Pendleton picking up one gold and a further silver as she waved goodbye to the sport.
Burchett believes the Olympic success has seen a continued trend of more younger riders becoming involved in competitive racing, a legacy he feels will continue for many years to come.
“The children’s events at the rally are always over subscribed and there is no doubt that is down to the success of our cyclists at the Olympics in Beijing and again this year,” he added.
“Again this year we saw a large number of young competitors taking part and that is great to see that we are seeing a lasting legacy for the sport.
“We always anticipated a high level of increased interest following on from the Olympics and that was certainly the case.
“Cycling has a fantastic future and it is great to see so many new competitors taking part in so many different events.”
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