THE Ras De Cymru five-day stage race in South Wales last week proved to be a baptism of fire for the Halesowen Cycling Club team of Charles Walker, Sam Dighton, Joe Hobbs and guest rider Jack Stanier-Warren.

The 100 rider field included senior and junior riders and was made up of a team time trial, an individual time trial and four tough road stages concluding with a hilly stage on Sunday. It was that final stage in which Dighton was involved in a crash when the 16-year-old junior rider was unable to avoid colliding with another competitor who had fell off on a corner.

Despite a determined effort to regain his place within the main field he was unable to renew contact with the peloton.

Walker proved to be the leading Halesowen rider finishing 25th overall, followed by Stanier-Warren 28th, Hobbs 54th and Dighton 56th.

The team finished a very creditable ninth out of 26 teams. It was a fine result considering Walker and Dighton are junior riders and are riding on restricted gear sizes as per British Cycling rules.

A highlight from the event came as Charles Walker finished second in the junior competition.