The windswept plateau, overlooking Ġnejna and Għajn Tuffieha bays in Mġarr made a welcome return on the Cisk 0.0 National Point Cross Country Series calendar after an absence of two years.
The course, known for being exposed to the elements, is considered as one of the most difficult courses in the series, welcomed a good number of riders for the second stage on Sunday morning.
Luke Borg (The Cyclist) continued to assert his position as one of Malta’s top mountain bikers as he led the Elite group from start to finish. Hot on his heels was Jason Vella (Agones SFC), who retained his second place throughout the seven lap course. Everyone was kept guessing as to who might complete the Elite podium until the final laps between Mosta Cycling Club riders Clyve Chetcuti and Andrew Caruana, both fighting a close duel. In the end it was Chetcuti who pipped Caruana to third place.
The undisputed queen of Maltese mountain biking, Marie Claire Aquilina (Team Greens), saw her years-long unbeaten run come to an end in Mġarr when Lara Buttigieg (The Cyclist) took home her first-ever win in the National Points Series.
Buttigieg took a determined stance to lead the way from the start, with Aquilina and Diana Muscat (Team Greens) behind her.
By the end of the second lap, Muscat had overtaken Aquilina to finish in second place ahead of Aquilina.
In the Sport category, D Sports Lab team-mates from Gozo, Darren Sultana and Josmar Vella, finished in first and second place respectively, with Robert Grech completing the podium.
In the 40+ podium, Alex Portelli (BRC Solar Solutions) had to stave off strong attempts from Stephen Grima (D Sports Lab) to take the win by a six-second gap. Third place went to Joaquin Rojas.
Enrico Brandamante (Agones SFC) won the 50+ category, followed by Carmelo Abela (BRC Solar Solutions) and Ethan Salter.
The youth and junior categories saw good participation. Matthew Galea (Gozo Cycling Club) took top honours in the Under 19 race.
The Under 17 race was won by Ryan Gatt (The Cyclist) followed by Nathan Goodhand and James Vassallo.
The Under 15 boys’ podium was made up of Shamrock Stars riders, led by Liam Daly and followed by Neil Cassar and Julian Bugeja.
Shamrock rider Nina Debono Curmi took the win for the girls category.
Under 12 Boys podium was made up of Jake Said, Oliver Buccheri and Jurgen Mercieca whilst the girls podium saw Kim Micallef Cann take the win followed Michaela Ann Spiteri and Mickaya Fava.
The National Points Series is sponsored by Cisk 0.0, Gatorade, and San Michel and is supported by IDMatch Bike Lab.
The third race of the series will take place on Sunday, March 19 at Ta’ Ċenċ in Gozo.
In the meantime, the Association also announced its participation at the Verona MTB International competition next week.
Malta will be represented by a team of young riders, all under 25 years of age, made up of Luke Borg, Clyve Chetcuti, Stefan Scerri and Brandon Sultana. They will be accompanied by Association officials Mark Bonnici and Maurice Formosa. Malta’s participation was made possible through the support of SportMalta and the Malta Mountain Bike Association.
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