St Neots star Richard Hancock has grabbed European Duathlon Championships gold – two years after almost quitting the sport due to missing out on a medal.

Hancock, pictured, powered to sprint distance victory in the M45-49 age group at Kalkar in Germany last weekend. He completed the 5km run, 20km bike and 2.5km run in a time of 58:25 - almost a minute clear of his closest challenger.

His victory was even sweeter given he had seen bronze medals snatched from his grasp in the final metres of races in the previous two European events.

Hancock said: "I missed out on a medal by eight seconds two years ago and by seven seconds last year.

"The first of those disappointments was crushing and I nearly quit as a result, but I'm delighted I kept going.

"I went back to the drawing board and focused on pacing myself well through the first run to ensure I had more left in the tank for the second run.

"It worked well as I went ahead during the cycle, but I did think I had finished third as I was past by two other competitors on the final run.

"But it turned out they were in the M40-44 age group, which was running at the same time, and it was an incredible feeling to be told I had won gold."

Hancock, who is a member of St Neots Cycling Club, has been a classy cyclist for more than 20 years, but has turned his attention to triathlon and duathlon events in the past five years.

He has already qualified for next year's European Championships, to be held in Denmark, where he will step up into the M50-54 bracket.

But, before then, Hancock lines up in the World Championships in Spain over the standard distance of 10km run, 40km bike and a 5km run.

A host of other locals from the St Neots-based Nictri club took part in the European Championships.

Tom Stead was the member to come closest to a medal. He was pipped to bronze by just six seconds in the M20-24 race over the sprint distance.

Karl Hiner took sixth in the M50-54 section while Phil Redden was 10th in the M60-64 bracket.

Paul Ridley took 23rd in the M45-49 age group while Dawn Parr came home 11th in the F40-44) category.

Clubmate Sam Williams made his international debut over the standard distance of a 10km run, 40km cycle and 5km run, and finished eighth in the M35-39 age group.

Huntingdon BRJ Run & Tri man Cy Gearing was another local ace to tackle the longer event at the European Championships.

He finished in a fine fifth place in the M45-49 section, missing out on the medals by little more than two minutes.

Fellow BRJ Run & Tri member Ollie Wood was seventh in the M16-19 sprint event.