The brutal conditions awaited the brave mountain bikers part in the Malta Mountain Bike Cross Country National Championships held in Ħaġar Qim earlier on this month.

As the summer heat showed its full force despite an early morning start, it was clear that the last race on the Mountain Bike calendar was going to be one of the toughtest and hardest track of the season – intense heat, dusty conditions, steep inclines and some nasty falls were the order of the day.

Following his unbeaten record at the BDO Malta Cross Country National Point Series, Maurice Formosa was clearly the one to beat and he was definitely not going to rest on his laurels. Formosa was out to claim another win and seal a thoroughly successful season.

As the race started, Mark Bonnici, Maurice Formosa, Etienne Bonello led the pace, all clearly determined to secure a place on the final race’s podium. From the second lap Formosa decided to attack and set a faster pace.

In the downhill segment he further widened the gap leaving Bonello, Bonnici, Patrick Scicluna and Brandon Sultana to fight for a place in front. Confidently Formosa tackled the course to keep a comfortable distance from second placed Bonello.

Slightly further back a battle for the third place on the podium ensued – despite good attempts from Sultana to sustain the placing he secured in the first two laps it was evident that the third place would be taken up by Bonnici or Scicluna – both experienced riders, Bonnici showed controlled determination to stave off attempts from Scicluna and beating him by a mere four seconds to third place.

“This year has certainly been most satisfactory. Following an unbeaten run in the National Point Series, this race was the ultimate goal – one which I had been focusing and preparing for throughout the season – a big thanks goes to all those involved – cyclists, Association members, volunteers and sponsors” – Maurice Formosa, 2018 National Mountain Bike Cross Country Champion

There was no less action in the Open Category. Francesco Sultana, winner of the Open Category in the National Point Series, was outright winner, despite suffering a fall on the same route the previous day. Tough conditions saw him working hard to beat competition from Martin Bonnici, but by the second lap, Sultana widened the gap to secure the category win.

The next hotly contested category was the Masters 40+ Category which saw Gozitan cyclist Domenic Cutajar slowly move forward to first place beating second placed Paul Zarb by 12 seconds.

In the Masters 50+ Category Brian Magri was the first non-Elite cyclist to cross the finish line. Stefan Scerri took top billing in the Juniors Category.

In the Ladies Category, there was no stopping Marie Claire Aquilina who continued to show her true form by winning the category with a comfortable advantage of 8 minutes 46 seconds over Gozo based, three times Downhill Masters World Champion Petra Wiltshire. Third Placed was Danica Bonello Spiteri who followed into the finish thirty four seconds later.

“The National Championships conditions were simply brutal – the searing heat, despite the early start affected all riders. In spite of these weather conditions, we saw some excellent displays of cycling and some determined performances from across the board. This race is certainly a culmination of hard work from both the cyclists and the organising team which put together brings on an exciting racing season for mountain bike enthusiasts” explained Pierre Zammit Endrich, president, Malta Mountain Bike Association.

“As the summer now is with us in full force, some riders will take a break others will be preparing for international commitments. As an Association we will sit down take stock of this year and start working on the forthcoming season to make it even bigger and better”.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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