Sheffield Tigers speedway: ‘Time for another trophy’ as injured Adam Ellis and Stefan Nielsen return

They build them tough in speedway.

Friday, 25th March 2022, 4:20 pm

As Sheffield Tigers riders return to Owlerton this month for a new season which the club believes could see the team finish as champions, two of its stars are getting back on the bike again after breaking bones last year.

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This year, team manager Simon Stead, a Sheffield lad through and through who started and ended his career with the Tigers, feels his team, which boasts British Champion Adam Ellis, and international grand prix rider Jack Holder, is well equipped to win the league in only their second season back in the sport’s top division.

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Speedway: Stefan Nielsen is back with Sheffield Tigers after injury last year

Thursday (March 23) saw former Tiger Todd Kurtz’ testimonial. March 31 brings the Steel City Open Championship. The first home team meeting, against Belle Vue, is April 7.

Ellis is one of two back on their bikes after injury. He crashed on a rain-soaked track riding for Great Britain against Poland in the last meeting of 2021, fracturing his left collarbone and dislocating his right shoulder.

He said it took eight weeks to recover, until just before Christmas, but is feeling good now and on his bike again. He has been training and is looking forward to racing.

"They’ve done a good job building the team. I can’t see why we can’t be fighting for the number one spot,” he said. “Everyone here’s hungry and wants to win. I’m really happy to be back at Sheffield.”

Speedway: Adam Ellis is back with Sheffield Tigers after injury last year

Another rider, Stefan Nielsen is also back from injury. He crashed riding in BIrmingham. He went over his handlebars and broke six ribs and his collarbone, missing the end of Sheffield’s season.

He said: “My collarbone, I’ve broken both of them several times. They look like they’re sticking out of my skin when I just stand. But in terms of strength, they feel fine – I can do my push-ups and I can do my training. It’s all fine.”

He felt he had a good, solid season up until that point. “It was a good season and hopefully we can build on that,” he added.

Jack Holder grand prix hopes

Speedway: Craig Cook, is set to start his first season for Sheffield Tigers

They return alongside a rider who is in the running for the sport’s world title. Australian Jack Holder has been selected for the sport’s grand prix series, which pits the best riders in the world against each other in a series of races across the world.

Initially on the reserve list, he was one of two riders brought in to replace two Russian riders who were banned over their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Holder felt last year was good for himself and Sheffield, who made the play-offs. He said he had always dreamed of riding in the grand prix. His older brother Chris, a former world champion, did it before him, so he feels he knows what it is all about.

"To get my chance, I’m over the moon about it,” he said. “I’m going to just take it as another meeting and just enjoy myself.”

Speedway: Tobiasz Muselak, is set to start his first season for Sheffield Tigers

He hopes to bring something from his grand prix experience back to Owlerton. adding: “It’s the best in the world, the top 16, so it’s going to be tough. I race those boys throughout the weekend, in Poland, and hopefully I can give the Sheffield fans something to cheer about.”

Poland has been speedway’s power house in recent years, with the sport attracting huge spectator numbers there. Holder is among a number in the UK who ride in both countries.

Tobiasz Musielak

And this season Tigers also include a Pole in their team, in Tobiasz Musielak.

He said: “I know it is the steel city, with a speedway club and two football clubs. That’s all I know about Sheffield, but what’s most important, I’m in the team and super happy for that. I’m looking forward to hitting the track for the first time.

“Here in Sheffield the track looks good and I hope that it’s going to be a fast one."

Speedway: Sheffield Tiges skipper Kyle Howarth believes the club has a strong line up.

One rider who has enjoyed success on that Owlerton track is Craig Cook. He has won the sport’s Championship riders champion title at Owlerton, an individual competition for riders racing in the second tier of racing in Britain.

He has signed for his first season at Sheffield, and is a former grand prix rider. He said it felt good to be a Tigers rider.

He said: “I’ve known Steady (team manager Simon Stead) for a number of years and got on great with him. I think he’s a calm, collected kind of guy and he should be a good influence on me this year. Working alongside him is a fantastic opportunity, as is being part of this team. It looks very strong throughout. I’m just looking forward to getting started and seeing how everything comes together.”

Despite his success at Owlerton, he said, with a grin, it had not been one of his favourite tracks, adding he did not dislike it either. “I’ve done well here in the past, and it seems to be a track I do quite well on,” he added. “I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and doing everyone proud this year.”

Long serving skipper Kyle Howarth, has been with the club since 2016, winning the league with Tigers in 2017.

He is impressed with the strength of this season’s line up compared with previous sides.

He said: “It looks really strong. We’ve got Jack Holder as number one, reigning British champion Adam Ellis, and we’ve got some new recruits with Connor Mountain, Craig Cook and Tobiasz Musielak – everyone’s looking strong. I think we’re a team that can go home and away and win and definitely a team that can get to the final. The promoters have put a great team together and it makes it more exciting for the riders knowing that we’re in a strong team. I’m looking forward to it and eager to get going.”

He said it was time for another trophy to put on the cabinet this year.