Wallbank sprint seals podium finish for Clarion

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HEAVY downpours did not deter a strong Sunderland Clarion team in Derwentside CC’s Criteriums at Hetton Lyons Country Park.

Four Clarion riders took to the start line as a deluge subsided, and straight away Michael Sloanes and Craig Stephenson did their best to try to get away off the front.

Their efforts, and the subsequent pace, saw the race split in two, with Sloanes, Stephenson and Neil Wallbank all in the first group.

Sloanes eventually managed to get off the front, managing to stay there for three laps, though he was never allowed to get too far away from the pack, who saw the danger of letting the Clarion man off the leash.

Meanwhile, Stephenson suffered a puncture, following on from Matt France who suffered the same fate at the back of the race earlier on, but a wheel change and a lap out saw Stephenson rejoin the main group.

After Sloanes was pulled back in, it was inevitable that a bunch sprint was on the cards at the finish.

Wallbank’s kick was enough to grab third place behind eventual winner Craig Anderson of Achieve-Skinnergate Cycles, while Sloanes rolled in for fifth place and Stephenson secured seventh.

Clarion’s riders can look forward to the Stockton Festival of Cycling next weekend.