Cycling

RAF's Toms and Lee win Inter Services Cyclo-cross Championships

Two RAF riders came away victorious in the men's and women's racing events at the Inter Services Cyclo-Cross Championships. 

Held at RAF Halton for the first time in five years, changing weather conditions made for contrasting races for the men and women competing. 

The women's race saw five forces riders competing in dry and bright conditions, meaning the quickest riders were able to manage around four laps of the 3km track, which provided challenging terrain for the riders. 

The RAF's Corporal Sarah Toms topped the women's field after a close battle with her Army rival, Major Jess Wood, who was the runner-up.

Cpl Toms' RAF teammate Sergeant Lucy Cotman chased them hard to come third overall. 

With the Army traditionally the biggest forces representation in women's cyclo-cross, runner-up Maj Wood said the turnout had been "fantastic".

She said: "It has been a really fantastic turnout, I think, also looking at how cross is growing amongst the services, it is really great to see the RAF and the Navy riders within women's cycling. 

"Quite often the Army have, sort of, the lion's share of representation, so it was good actually, for once, that I was in the minority. It has been fun to be beside the RAF and the Navy."

Winner Cpl Toms said: "It is great to have a teammate as well and we outnumbered the Army today in the women's race which is very unusual, but it was a good race we set up yesterday, and it took a lot of work, but it was a good course."

The men's race saw a decent turnout of Army, Navy, and RAF riders, with weather conditions drastically changing before the start. 

The RAF's top two, Corporal Ian Lee and Air Specialist Tom Whitworth, set off well while being chased down by a full complement of Army riders. 

Muddy conditions due to heavy rain made certain sections of the course challenging for some riders but, despite those challenges, the top men showed grit and determination to produce some good riding. 

Leicester University's Cai Davies became the overall winner, but the RAF's Cpl Lee closely followed to become the Inter Services winner, followed by his RAF teammate AS Whitworth. 

The Army's Captain Simon Hale brought it home to place third among the services. 

Cpl Lee said: "Especially with the changing conditions, as well, and the run at the start, it made it a little bit unpredictable, definitely. 

"And then it was close for the first two or three laps with the Army pretty much right behind us and then I think it sort of slowed down a little bit."