CYCLING: LAURA Allen wheeled her way to a seventh national schools title in three years at the weekend.
Riding for Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, the Abesco-Cruden New Brighton CC starlet retained her Girls' BSCA national circuit title at Milton Keynes.
Though struggling to return to her best form, Laura dominated the female riders in a three-mile event over a twisting and undulating course.
The Widnes youngster came seventh overall, starting well at the head of the field but failing to hold wheels with the leading six boys.
She held off challenges from more boys over the last lap - sprinting uphill over the final 200 metres and fending off a chasing group of three boys, including pre-event favourite Hugh Carthy.
Laura claimed last year's best all-rounder in the Under Eight girls. Her move into U10s has provided stiffer competition but she proved on Saturday that she is up to the challenge. She was rewarded with a large trophy, a gold medal, cloth badge and a monetary prize.
Her brother Joe Allen, also riding in New Brighton colours but representing Sts Peter and Paul High, was in the U12s race.
Apart from winner William Penn, of Lichfield CC, Joe was the only rider to lead over five miles of the same course.
The first lap was run at a fairly fast pace and approaching the hill near the end of the first circuit, Joe attacked from the back to blow the field apart.
The bunch broke into a long line of riders trying to hang onto his wheel as he sped down the twisting descent.
A mile later, as they returned to the hill, the field was in tatters. Joe, beginning to pay for his earlier attack, was now in 10th place but holding wheels in a line of 15 riders strung out behind Penn, who attacked on the following lap.
He opened a clear gap that wouldn't be closed. Joe eventually finished 12th, contesting and winning a close sprint for the line.
The youngster recently won the 200m time trial at Kirkby Track League after setting a personal best of 15.89 the previous week and lies third overall.
* Lack of finance plus parental work commitments prevented the brother and sister from taking part in Isle of Man Cycling Week, despite a generous offer from club sponsor Abesco.
* Both riders are now preparing for the four-stage Manchester International Youth tour in August.