Local mountain bike activity was at brisk yesterday morning (Sunday 24th) as an encouraging number of participants and enthusiasts alike gathered at Mgarr for the second round of races from the Cross Country National Points Series organised by the Malta Mountain Bike Association and sponsored by Magri Cycles.
The 4.5km circuit, with a unique and magnificent backdrop of Gnejna and Gozo is characterised with its rough and sharp rocky terrain, technical drop-offs and sketchy single tracks requiring maximum concentration and a high degree of riding skills.
As in the previous race, the course was contested over 6 laps in the Elite category, 5 laps in the Ladies category and 4 laps in the ever increasing and popular Sports category.
The mass start in itself was quite a colorful spectacle with all the crowd gathering to encourage all riders.
The initial stages immediately indicated that the Elite category was practically a dual contest between Maurice Formosa (The Cyclist CC) and challenger Mark Bonnici (Agones SFC) both keeping the same solid pace from the start with Formosa taking the advantage on the 5th lap and eventually winning in 01:18:25 with Bonnici clocking in at second place in 01:20:01. Etienne Bonello was on his way to his consecutive 3rd place however mechanical problems forced him to slow down with Ramon Grech (Agones SFC) overtaking him in the last two laps to finish third in 01:25:26.
Bad luck opted to switch riders this time around in the Ladies Category with Marie Claire Aquilina (The Cyclist CC) tearing through the five laps in an impressive 01:16:45and with last week’s winner Danica Bonello Spiteri (Team Greens) finishing second in 1:24:37 albeit sustaining a technical fault during the race. Claudine Gatt was declared as second runner-up finishing four out of five laps in 01:23:22.
The ever increasing Sports Category was a keen contest with the first three placings finishing just 18 seconds apart – newcomer Alex Gatt once again proved his true mettle by finishing first in 01:00:15 with Francesco Sultana in second at a very close 01:00:19 and Ryan Darmanin in third with an overall timing of 01:00:33.
Timings were attended through the ARTTS electronic timing system.
Once again, the MMBA would like to thank its main sponsor MAGRI CYCLES and other co-sponsors AF studio signs, ProAction Malta, Island Beverages, Fotoclassic and Angie Conti for the photography.
A special thank also goes to all volunteers, ambulance staff, Mgarr local council, Mgarr police station and race marshals for their extraordinary assistance.
There shall be no race events for the month of August – MTB XC and downhill racing shall resume on the 3rd September. For more updates/information please visit our web-site www.maltamountainbike.org.mt