BACK IN THE GROOVE (L-R) Peter Gibson, James Phillips and Sam Walsh on the M25 podium

PETER GIBSON and Michael Thompson laid down impressive early-season markers at the British Age Group Duathlon Championships.

Racing over standard distance – 10km run, 39km on the bike, then another 5km run – at Bedford Autodrome, the event attracted competitors from across the country vying to qualify for the national age group team.

Athletes went head to head with the excitement of a mass start, racing over the smooth tarmac of the Autodrome, which now has a racing track designed by former Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer.

The superb venue is at the historic Thurleigh Airfield, which was formerly home to Bomber Command for sorties over Germany in World War II.

Gibson excelled to finish third M25 in a time of 1hr55. He led with a strong 36min 10km run, completed the 39km bike in 58min before finishing the race with a 19min 5km final run.

The racing circuit left athletes exposed to a punishing headwind but there was clear visibility as individual battles played out on the track.

Michael Thompson narrowly missed out on a coveted top 10 spot, finishing 11th M45 in 2hr08.

Strong performances over the first run and the bike leg kept the Tunbridge Wells triathlete in contention by T2.

His final run was impeded by cramp but he demonstrated promising form for the season ahead.