Hayley Simmonds sets a new women’s course record in the BUCS 10 individual TTCUCC

1. Cyclists in fine form for Varsity

The past two weekends have seen the UK’s best university cyclists compete in two time-trial events, in team and individual format, with Cambridge riders dominating both events. With victory over Oxford in each of those events, the stage is now set for the official Varsity match, on 26th April, which takes place as part of the BUCS 25 mile time trial.

On the weekend of 12th-13th April, the BUCS team time trial event saw the Cambridge men win BUCS gold for the 5th year in a row. Cambridge also won gold in the women’s event (as they have done in five of the last seven years). All the men’s teams beat the Oxford first team, with the Cambridge firsts beating them by nearly 10 minutes over the 50 kilometre course, and even the Light Blue third team beat the Oxford firsts by over a minute.

Then, on 19th April, Cambridge University Cycling Club (CUCC) President Edmund Bradbury took gold in the BUCS 10 individual time trial, setting a time of 20.40, 23 seconds clear of second place. The men also won the Team Gold (combined time of the fastest three riders’ times).

The women’s event was won for Cambridge as well. Former CUCC President Hayley Simmonds, one of the fastest riders in the country at present, set a new female course record. The Cambridge women also took the Women’s Team Gold.

For the climax of the competitive season, CUCC, a venerable sports club (founded in 1874) races at top level across the country in the guise of its new “‘Cambridge University RT - Hunter Gibson - Chain Reaction Cycles” race team. However the club, a very large one, also takes casual and novice cyclists. BUCS competitions, including next week’s Varsity spectacle, cover a range of challenges including different time trials, road racing, hill climbing, track cycling and mountain biking.

The club has been one of the most successful university cycling clubs in recent years. Cycling enjoys Half Blue and discretionary Full Blue status.

Edmund Bradbury

2. Ups and Downs for Cambridge in Swedish Orienteering Varsity

The map was almost blank, except for a half-centimetre wide winding strip that the athletes were meant to follow.

So started the training tour preceding this year’s orienteering Varsity match in Stockholm. Those who had never orienteered in Sweden were truly thrown in at the deep end. Even for those who had, it was for most of the time a struggle simply to stay out of the blank areas and on the designated route.

The Wednesday training, planned by junior world champion Gustav Bergman, gave a taste of what lay in wait for the Varsity competitors: a week of outstanding orienteering, awesome forests, and rather frequent feelings of desperation at being totally lost in the wooded landscape. Despite it all, the week was to offer up a victory for the Cambridge women and only a narrow defeat for the men.

It is fitting that Oxford and Cambridge go to Sweden to orienteer, as the sport originated there. In Britain relatively few people know the difference between orienteering, as a fast-paced sport that requires excellent fitness, quick thinking and sharp decision making, and hillwalking with a map. But in Sweden it’s a national sport. Right in the centre of Stockholm, one sees orienteering kites (markers that are at control points) dotting the roadside.

The usual “follow a course drawn on a map” task is made all the more complicated, because in Sweden, what is shown as a distinctive path on a map often turns out to be a hardly noticeable track in reality. Add the exquisite contour detail and the general vagueness of the terrain and you have a perfect recipe for making a big mistake and getting lost for at least 10 minutes.

After four days of training, the teams were ready for battle. For Varsity, six people made up the men’s team, with four to count, and five made up the women’s, with the three best counting. The women have won for three years running, whereas the men have lost out to the Dark Blues recently.

In the event, the Women won over Oxford in a clean sweep by a wide margin of 70 minutes. The Oxford team were not even saved by their own Scandinavian runner. Cambridge’s Katrin Harding, Carrie Beadle and Jess Mason took the top women’s spots, with Harding the winner. The Men did not quite match the Women‘s efforts, losing by ten minutes overall, although a virtuoso performance from Cambridge’s Matthew Vokes saw him beat Oxford‘s elite runner Aidan Smith to secure first place in the individual race for Cambridge. Harding, Vokes and James Hoad then won the relay for Cambridge.

Zuzana Strakova

3. Kickboxing title is Light Blue once again

Cambridge University kickboxers defeated their rivals from Oxford in their Varsity match before the break, making it their fourth consecutive win.

Anna Lappala and Francesca Benzi were the first to step into the ring for Cambridge and did well against heavier and more experienced opponents. Despite what promised to be relatively straightforward wins for the Oxford fighters, the two Cambridge women put up great performances that fell just short of a win in each case.

Prithvi Sridhar was the first Cambridge fighter to win his bout. Using his fast legs he was successfully able to keep his opponent at bay for most of the fight. Fellow Light Blue Tim Williamson then stepped up and controlled most of his match, to win in his own unique style.

Fighting an opponent who was heavier and more experienced, Raz Jabary showed fighter’s spirit by dominating the second and third rounds of his fight after being knocked down in the first. Fast combinations of punches and kicks saw Jabary take command, with his opponent eventually slumping onto the ropes.

Krav Maga convert Dom Lentrodt then narrowly lost a thrilling contest, finding himself unable to continue. With three fights each, Varsity glory was taken for Cambridge by Kostas Ziovas. After three rounds, the judges scored his bout even and it was decided to move into an additional fourth round decider. Ziovas took victory on points after exploiting his superior stamina.

Raz Jabary

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