Cyclist Robin caps great season with first national champion jersey

Joseph Bulmer

At 63 years young, a first national champion jersey feels like the sweetest to the tireless Robin Delve, who crowned one of his best-ever seasons with a thrilling victory in the UK Cyclo-Cross Championships at Crawley.

World Masters champion in 2017 and already National Trophy Series champion this winter with a round still to go, Mid-Devon CC's Delve had never lifted a coveted national title before tackling his men's over-60 rivals in the mud at the South of England Showground.

It turned into an epic battle too, for his old rival Michael Davies from Loughborough held a 20-second lead after two laps.

But Delve caught him after both had fallen, duelled with Davies for the rest of the race and then sprinted away to win in the finishing straight.

"It all came down to the last 200 yards, and we were head to head," said Delve.

"I'm so pleased to win the jersey at last - the Nationals are always a one-off race, and if you don't hit it right on the day, you lose.

"It really was one of my last chances to win it, because I'll be 64 next year and I know that there are a couple of fast younger guys coming up into this age-group next season.

"It did feel like now-or-never," said Delve, who was winning for the 18th time in 22 races this season.

His chances of a second World Masters title last month had been ruined by a cruel starting slot at Ipswich, where he eventually finished fifth.

This Sunday he can afford a 'victory lap' at the final round of the National Trophy at Skipton, for he already has too many points to be caught.

Also on the Nationals 'podium' for the MDCC was Cathy Kilburn, who collected a bronze medal in the ladies' 55-59 years group.

There was another solid effort from Martin Smith, 37th in a 100+ field in the men's 50-59 years category, and from Eva Fox, who was 15th in the girls under-14 race.

Grace Ward was also 20th in the girls under-16 group, while Bayley Woodger was dogged by a mechanical failure on the first lap and then a puncture in the boys' under-14s race.

While Delve may head for Yorkshire this weekend, the rest of our local riders will be at the Plymouth Moto-X Park for the final round of the South West CX Series on Sunday.