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MIŻIEB DRAWS THE CROWDS

The Malta Cross Country National Point Series drew the crowds for its season opener in Miżieb with 64 riders, split into six classes, taking off on the technical course.

The 2018 season kicked off positively with a double increase in participation numbers when compared to those of last year. The Elite Category welcomed the four top Open Category placed riders of 2017 join the fold.

The Open Category saw a sharp increase as did the Masters 40+. Biggest surprise of the day was the Ladies’ Category which saw ten riders take part.

As part of the Association’s initiative to attract young riders to the sport, an Under 12 and Under 15 category was launched and saw 10 young riders take part. Each rider was given a participation medal at the end of their laps.

There were no surprises in the Elite Category. Maurice Formosa and Etienne Bonello set the pace from the word go.

Patrick Scicluna, and new Elite rider Mark Zammit, Mark Bonnici and Brandon Sultana followed closely to set the lead pack.

As the race progressed it was evident that, barring any mishaps, the first place would go to either Maurice Formosa or Etienne Bonello as only a fraction of a second separated them from each other.

This pace was kept relatively unchanged until Lap Three, when Formosa saw an opportunity to widen the gap from Bonello.

Formosa kept the momentum to seal his first victory of the season in a time of 1:07:44. Bonello followed in a time of 1:09:26, whilst Patrick Scicluna took third place after in 1:10:25.

There was no lack of competitive action in the Open Category despite welcoming a large number of new faces to the circuit. The four lap circuit was won by Francesco Sultana (51:53), followed by Nikolai Bonello (52:20) and Ack Hili (52:58).

The Male Masters 40+ was another well contended category with Mario Attard (54:08), David Pace (56:27) and Mark Portelli (56:36) taking top honours. Brian Magri (53:18)took the honours in the Masters 50+ category.

The biggest surprise of the day was undoubtedly the Ladies Category which saw a record participation of 10 females.

Marie Claire Aquilina, who’s versatility on the road and off road circuit have made her undisputed queen of cycling in Malta, showed her prowess to win with a near three minute advantage over second placed Danica Bonello Spiteri (57:46) who in turn had a very comfortable lead over third placed Lara Buttigieg (1:07:18). Fiona Darmanin Tedesco (1:08:26) and Mary Spiro (1:19:09) took Masters 40+ and 50+ honours, respectively.

“It was a number of firsts for our Association today! We had record participation registered, a large number of spectators lined the route and the amount of satisfied riders at the finish was the best so far, “ commented a satisfied Pierre Zammit Endrich, President, Malta Mountain Bike Association. “We were also particularly pleased with the participation of young riders as these are the future of our sport”.

The next race of the Malta Cross Country National Points Series will take place on Sunday 25th February in Mġarr.


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