Exmouth Beach might seem like an unlikely place to train for a world title, unless it’s windsurfing or maybe sand-castle design, but it proved perfect for new World Masters Cyclo-Cross champion Robin Delve.
Delve, from Longdown near Exeter, pulled off one of the shocks of the championships at Mol, Belgium, when he stormed to victory in the 60-64-years age group.
But it wasn’t a surprise for the Mid-Devon CC rider, who said: “It’s been a secret plan of mine for about three years. Everything has been aimed at that one race.
“Everyone else was totally shocked, but I believed I could do it on that day.
“It feels phenomenal – I have never won a national or regional race, but I now have a world gold medal and a ‘rainbow’ jersey, which is the most coveted prize in cycling.”
The key factor was that Delve knew the course at Mol, where he finished ninth in the 55-59-years age group last year.
“The course there is unique – it is nearly all sand and tarmac,” he said. “It involves quite a lot of running, so I used that experience.
“I’ve been going down to Exmouth Beach on Sunday mornings to ride and run on the sand there.
“It paid off. Everyone at the Worlds said that my running was awesome. I didn’t really know – I just ran as fast as I could!”
Delve, cheered on by his daughter Georgia, first had to overcome a place on the second row of the start- grid, but he had taken the lead by the end of the first lap.
He pulled steadily clear to win by one and a half minutes from the USA’s Bob Downs and Swedish No.1 Benny Andersson, followed by the rest of the 32-strong field.
Delve even overtook all but 14 of the 55-59-years group, who started 30 seconds ahead.
Less than 48 hours later Delve was back in South Devon, being lauded at his own club’s South West Championship round at the Torbay Velopark.
“I did intend to ride there, but I pulled a few muscles in Belgium and my legs were a bit sore,” he said