The last event in the season of Reading Track League started under floodlight and beneath a thick autumnal mist – a clear indication that the outdoor racing season is drawing to a close.
Just eight riders started the Senior “A” trackcycling scratch. A fast pace ensued from the gun, although no discernable split was made until the riders had just two laps remaining. As the bell sounded, guest rider Joe Truman (iTeam CC) started his charge for the line and provided the perfect lead out for Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden) to to win the race. Max Stedman (awcycles.co.uk) was perfectly positioned on Rutter’s wheel to sprint for second place, with Gawain Bailey (Performance Cycles) finishing third with a strong finish on the final straight.
A relatively large field of 17 started the Senior “B” and Ladies trackcycling scratch. With such a large group jostling for a good position in the last scratch race of the year, the group was quite disordered from the start. With no discernable break forming throughout the race, it was clear it would be decided in a final sprint. In the last lap, a furious sprint between Joshua Mitchell (Bicester Millenium) and Matthew Lansley (Palmer Park Velo) ensued, with Mitchell ultimately able to see off Lansley’s threat to win by a wheel-length. Hugh Knudsen (BC Private Member) rode well to claim third. Abbie Dentus (De Ver Cycles) put in a strong final lap to take the ladies’ race.
Due to the small field, the “A” keirin was run as a straight final. Guest rider Joe Truman (I-Team Cyclists Club) showed why he is the current U16 national sprint champion and took the lead as soon as the derny dropped off the track. Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC) rode a strong final lap to finish just behind Truman in second place, with Bailey taking third.
In the “B” and Ladies keirin final, Dentus took control of the race and put in an impressive burst as the derny dropped out to finish 50 metres ahead of the entire field. Behind Dentus, Mitchell’s sprint still enabled him to take victory in the “B” race ahead of Daniel Lansley (Palmer Park Velo) and Matthew Lansley. Lydia Brookes (GS Henley) took second place in the ladies’ race, with Sarah Tombs (Performance Cycles) finishing in third.
The “A” devil formed the next event of the night. Riders were eliminated until just three remained, with Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden) riding away as the final bell sounded to claim an easy victory. Nick Abraham (BC Private Member) took second place, with Bailey taking his third third place of the evening.
The finish of the “B” devil was reminiscent of the scratch race earlier in the evening, and decided in a sprint between Mitchell and Matthew Lansley. Mitchell repeated his earlier performance to pip Lansley for the win, with Knudsen again taking third. Dentus once again took the ladies’ competition.
Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC) had been leading the WLCA 1km Time Trial competition for much of the season with his time of 1:13.17 posted on 22 July. However, with Joe Truman also electing to compete today, it was always going to be extremely close: in addition to being national junior sprint champion, Truman is also national junior champion in the 500m TT. This speed was clearly evident in blisteringly fast first lap and, despite tiring in the second lap, he was able to hold on to post a time of 1:12.99 – enough to take the title ahead of Greenstreet by just 0.18 seconds. Truman’s time should not detract from excellent rides by Frazier Carr (awcycles.co.uk) (1:15.51) and Aaron Collins (1:18.89).
The Unknown Distance race was the penultimate event of the evening. Bailey, who clearly deserved a first place after his three third-places, won the event, ahead of Max Stedman (awcycles.co.uk) and Rutter. Amongst the “B” riders, Matthew Lansley took the victory, with Nick Cammell (GS Henley) finishing in second, and Keith Griffiths (F&CCC) taking third. Dentus put in another strong ride to win the ladies’ event.
The final event of the evening was the annual John Ralph Memorial 20k points trophy race. The event, held on the last track league meeting of the season, replaces the normal 20k endurance race. The race is run as a straight race, with no separate competition for the “A” and “B” riders.
The first set of points was contested in a sprint, and ultimately taken by Bailey, with Rutter in second place. Rutter managed to recover well to position himself perfectly to take maximum points in the the second sprint as well. After the first two sets of points, it was time for the endurance specialists to come into play. Martyn Harris (Banjo Cycles/Raceware) and Stedman successfully made a break with Stedman taking the next set of points, uncontested by Harris. Rutter and Greenstreet started the charge back to the duo, but the pair still managed to hold on for the next set of points with Stedman – rather sportingly – letting Harris take maximum points this time.
Following this, Greenstreet once again led the chase back to the pair and managed to catch the duo within a lap. However, the fast pace caused the rest of the bunch to spur into action and, within two laps, the group once again became one. However, through the mêlée, Stedman managed to stay off the front; this time with a new sparring partner in the form of Abraham. However, despite an effort by Bailey to join the couple, the group soon became one again with the next set of points contested in a tight sprint for the line. With 15 laps remaining, a four-man break formed in the shape of Abraham, Greenstreet, Stedman and Harris which was sadly unable to stick. It was then the turn of Mark Shepherd (Banjo Cycles/Raceware) to take the lead. Holding a strong lead into the next bell lap, he was unable to hold off the fast approaching Truman and Abraham in the final sprint. Truman gained maximum points with just a tyre’s width advantage ahead of Abraham.
Stedman made the intelligent decision of doing enough in the bell lap to take third place, but not enough to tire. He was able to use his advantage of his position to increase his lead on the rest of field with 15 laps remaining. He easily took the next set of points with an advantage of the entire home finishing straight, with Abraham and Greenstreet collecting the minor points. Stedman impressively managed to hold onto his advantage for the remainder of the race, celebrating his victory with a wheelie just after the line. Abraham took second place, and Rutter collected enough points for third.
Although the race formed an excellent event to round off the season, it was marred by a number of riders suffering break-ins or attempted break-ins to their cars in the car park. If any rider has since discovered an attempted break in to a motor vehicle, we would encourage you to report it to your local police station. We are hopeful that Palmer Park will have CCTV installed by the end of the year and this will be both the first – and last – incident of its kind.