A team of Shropshire based amateur cyclists has taken on elite level athletes in the Tour Ta Malta – with one even wearing the race leader’s jersey after winning the first stage.
Matt Davies, a 34-year -old farmer from Minsterley, who rides for Shropshire based cycling team Rhino Velo Race Team, an amateur team set up by well-known Shrewsbury cyclist Mike ‘Rhino’ Jones, took part in the four day stage race on the Mediterranean island with fellow team members Chris Pook, a 34-year-old estate agent from Shrewsbury who co-manages the team, and Tom Seeley, a 23-year-old retailer from Birmingham.
Mr Davies got off to a flying start in the opening time trial where his victory led to him wearing the race leader’s jersey. Mr Pook was close behind and just missed out on the podium.
Mr Davies said: “It was a big confidence boost to win Stage One as you are never quite sure where your form is at relative to the competition when racing abroad against new faces. We were really looking forward to the remaining three stages.”
Overall, Mr Davies placed fourth in the Tour Ta Malta, having also achieved a podium position on Stage 3 after a race long breakaway. Mr Pook, 14th overall, and Mr Seeley, 21st overall, worked hard for their team mate and ensured a good team result.
The success in the Tour Ta Malta comes just after Rhino Velo held its first Time Trial event; a 21 mile ‘Hilly’ running from Morville (outside Bridgnorth) up to Much Wenlock and back to Morville via Shipton. It was Round Two of the Shropshire Cycling Clubs Association Friction and Hydraulics Series.
Rhino Velo team member Matthew Garthwaite, a 31-year-old from Newport, set a new course record of 48 minutes and 34 seconds to take the overall win.
He was followed by Thomas Brazier from Team Elite/Paul Bethell Electrical in 50.49 and Rhino Velo’s Chris Pook in 51.29.
First placed female was Jill Wilkinson from Chester Race Club in 57.38 and first placed veteran was Chris Edmondson from Velotik Racing Team in 52.27. First placed junior was Sam Morris from Revolutions Racing in 56.00.
In other recent road races, Matthew Garthwaite achieved a fine second place behind pro Matt Nowell in the National B level Capernwray Road Race and repeated the same result a week later at the National B level Maxxis 4 Racing Road Race this time behind elite rider Richard Haughton.
Team mate Kirk Vickers achieved an excellent third place at the National B level Coalville Wheelers Road Race behind pro Rory Townsend.
Mr Pook, director of estate agents Cooper Green Pooks, Shrewsbury, who sponsor Rhino Velo Racing Team, with Ben Lawrence, managing director of independent Shropshire insurance broker Beaumont Lawrence, said he is very proud of the team’s recent success.
He said: “Our first time trial went fantastically and all the riders had a great time. It was a thrill to have one of our own team actually win the race.
“We were also excited to have five riders take part in the Ras Mumhan, a prestigious stage race in Kerry, Ireland over the Easter weekend.”
On April 23, a team of four riders will be taking part in the CiCLE Classic, a UCI ranked professional race in Rutland, Leicestershire.
Mr Pook added: “Looking back on the Tour Ta Malta, it was fantastic for Matthew Davies to win a stage and come third in another.
“It is testament to a lot of hard work in training whilst juggling a family with two young children and a busy farming business. He is an excellent example to the other lads of what is possible with dedication and heart.”
For more information about Rhino Velo, see https://www.facebook.com/Rhino-Velo-Racing-1694907564097320