IN-FORM Stefan Nielsen is ready to reignite the Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ challenge for the National League title by doing the double over rivals Dudley Heathens this week.
The 17-year-old – who is also first reserve for tonight’s World Under-21 final third round at Coventry – will shoulder the responsibility of being the Tigers’ main man in the absence of number one Cameron Heeps and skipper Lewis Blackbird.
Heeps broke his wrist last Thursday riding for his Premier League club Ipswich Witches while Blackbird will be riding for Leicester in the Premier League, leaving Nielsen as Mildenhall’s unofficial number one.
The 17-year-old from Brandon, near Bury St Edmunds, said: “Dudley are going to be our main contenders for the league title.
“It’s close between us, but we have to keep plugging away, keep improving and take it by step-by-step.
“It will be tough, especially after the previous week when we lost at home to Stoke.
“There were a few of our riders who didn’t like the track because it did not ride how it usually does, but hopefully it will be fine come Sunday.”
With the Tigers three points adrift of Dudley at the top of the National League, West Row will be the host for the first of two battles between the clubs this week with Sunday’s meeting setting off at the usual start time of 4.30pm.
That is despite protests from Dudley, who had claimed the Tigers had moved the fixture to 3pm.
The two teams reconvene at Ladbroke Stadium on Tuesday (7.30pm) for the return fixture.
“It’s our toughest challenge yet this year,” said co-promoter Michael Lee. “We know they are the team to beat.”
The Tigers have moved to bring in Jason Garrity as a guest for Heeps, while Mildenhall will use rider replacement to cover for Blackbird.
And with Nielsen making a name for himself, Lee is concerned the Tigers could be left without any of their leading men come the end of the season.
Blackbird’s move to Leicester created a bit of a storm, particularly with a number of home fixtures for the Lions potentially keeping the West Row outfit’s skipper out of action with the Tigers,
“Obviously we are disappointed, but as usual it destroys us at a time that is crucial for us,” added Lee. “We are not happy with the way Leicester reacted to what we offered and what we were trying to do.”
It appeared Blackbird would be able to ride for both until the Lions refused to move their start time to later in the evening.
It is a situation that will also keep out Dudley’s leading pair of Adam Roynon and Ashley Morris of Sunday’s meeting, who will instead line up for the Workington Comets against Leicester in the Premier League.
“The rules need to be looked at because we can’t survive as a business if this keeps happening,” added Lee. “It happened with James Brundle last season, we knew about Cameron at the start of the season, now Lewis and if Stefan gets someone interested towards the end of the season then we could really struggle.”