With heavy rain pounding much of Berkshire, riders arriving at Palmer Park were pleasantly surprised to find the stadium bathed in a small island of sunshine. However, with black clouds threatening like the dark skies of Mordor, it was questionable just how much racing would be completed that evening.
First event of the night was the Senior B and Ladies trackcycling scratch race. A relatively sedate start led to Richard Gostick of Reading CC making a break after just a lap. However, with 13 determined riders remaining in the peloton, Gostick was only able to sustain his lead for four laps. The group remained together until a five-man break led by Joshua Mitchell of Bicester Millenium with four laps to go. Even this relatively large breakaway was not able to stick and, with a lap to go, it was obvious the final positions were going to be determined in a sprint finish. In the end, Mitchell won the race by half a wheel’s width from Palmer Park Velo’s Tom Sefton with Sefton’s team mate Matthew Lansley close behind to claim third. Lydia Brookes of GS Henley claimed victory in the Ladies’ race
10 riders started the Senior A trackcycling scratch race and, with a fast pace being dictated from the gun, it took eight laps for the first break to be made. It was Nick Abraham who made this solo break, but he was unable to sustain this for more than a lap with Nick English of AW Cycles leading the charge back to him. However, with riders finding the track slippery on the first bend due to the poor weather, most elected to wait until the final bend to make their charge for the line. This culminated in a fast sprint finish which was won by Neil Rutter of Cotswold Veldrijden with Max Stedman AW Cycles narrowly edging out teammate George Withers for second place.
Although the Keirin heats were started, the clouds which had been threatening all evening quickly engulfed the track and the resultant torrential rain meant the meeting was abandoned immediately.
Report by Rachael Elliott
Photos by Stuart March