Report by – Rachael Elliott
After a beautifully warm day, the clouds and wind descended on Palmer Park just as the racing was started. Nevertheless, with no rain promised, we looked set to have a night of fine racing ahead – albeit a little breezy.
The first race of the evening was the C riders’ six lap hare and hounds, with the U16 boys and men chasing the girls and U14 boys. It took just four laps for the well-ordered more experienced riders to catch the C riders and, after the catch, the group remained together until the bell sounded going into the final lap. It was at this point that Harvey McNoughton (i-Team CC) took to the front of the field and impressively managed to hold off the bunch for the entire final lap to cross the line first. Palmer Park Velo rider Cameron Thomson was rewarded for a strong chase on the final straight with second place, with Carl Jolly (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) taking third.
The A&B hare and hounds followed immediately afterwards: Five A-riders lined up, with double the number of B riders starting. With strength in numbers, the B riders made a fast start, and it took two laps for the depleted bunch of A riders to make any discernable advantage on the Bs. However, the fast paced start of the Bs meant attrition levels were high and, with three laps to go, just six of the starting riders remained. The A riders caught the Bs with two laps to go and, with the bell sounding, the bunch of the ten remaining riders slowed and stuttered with no rider willing to take on the sprint from such a distance out. In the end, the race was decided by a sprint in the final straight with Matt Gittings (awcycles.co.uk) just taking the win ahead of Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden) and George Clark (High Wycombe CC).
A large field of 24 riders started the C unknown distance race and, with the bell sounding after four laps, the massed bunch were largely still together with just five riders being significantly off the pace. This again indicated a sprint finish was on the cards, and the riders certainly did not disappoint: Alex Jones (Twickenham CC) led out on the final bend but, despite his grit and determination, was unable to hold off Thomson who, sitting in Jones’ slipstream for the final straight, was able to nip past just before the line and take the win by just 0.1 seconds. Jolly earned his second podium spot of the night to take third place.
After two B derny heats, the A riders’ race was run as a straight final. Five riders started the derny race, with Gittings, Clark and Greenstreet breaking away from Sefton and Rutter just four laps after the race started. The front trio continued to increase their advantage on the remaining two riders and, with four laps remaining, Gittings and Clark increased the pace and the race became a duel between the two riders. Gittings’ acceleration in the penultimate lap was enough to create a gap between himself and Clark who, despite a strong effort in the final lap where his average speed was some 38mph, he was unable to catch Gittings who crossed the line 0.3 seconds ahead of Clark. Greenstreet took third place.
The C scratch race followed and, with a fast pace taken on from the gun, the large group of 23 riders quickly split into multiple disparate groups. Going into the last lap, the result was clearly going to be decided by a sprint between the leading bunch of seven riders. In the end, it was Thomson’s fast paced sprint in the final straight which earned him the victory, ahead of Tim Clark (GS Henley) and Jolly.
Six riders started the B derny final, with Daniel Lansley (RP Racing Team) taking the lead from the start. With Nicholas Beech (GS Henley) retiring after six laps, the remaining five riders remained in a tight bunch until the pace accelerated in the final three laps. With two laps to go, Lansley increased his pace and managed to sustain a discernable distance between himself and the other riders. Tom Zittel (Willesden CC) sat comfortably in second place, with Sam Grant (WDMBC) in third. Sadly for Grant, an error in the penultimate lap meant he lost contact with his derny which allowed Trevor Bradbury (awcycles.co.uk) to pass him in the final lap. Lansley ended up taking the victory, over three seconds clear of Zittel. Bradbury finished in third place.
The next race in the programme was the A&B unknown distance race. With a shorter than normal night of racing, all bets were on for a longer than normal race. And this turned out to be the case: a nine lap race ensued; the longest most riders could remember. As the bell sounded after eight laps Gittings and Rutter were perfectly placed to take first and second place respectively with Greenstreet, who had got himself in the perfect position a lap too early, had the consolation of third place. Tom Hemmant (BC Private Member) was the first placed B rider, with David Ivory (Reading CC) taking second and Nicholas Beech (GS Henley) finishing third.
The final event of the evening was the awcycles.co.uk 20k. After the fast and furious pace of the prior two weeks’ 20k races, the lack of A riders today meant we were in for a more sedate affair this week. However, this drought of more experienced riders gave some of the B & C riders the confidence to break away from the bunch in the early laps. Zittel and McNoughton made the first discernable break after five laps and, with the Jolly joining the duo after eleven laps and the main bunch holding their pace, the three riders were able to hold their advantage for a full 14 laps. When the peloton did eventually catch the tiring trio, Gittings and Rutter took advantage of the resultant disorder to break away from the main pack. Greenstreet was also primed to make the break, but sadly for him, an errant piece of flora on the track became trapped in his wheel and he was forced to take a lap off to dislodge it. Although he was allowed to continue in the bunch, Gittings and Rutter increased their advantage to bunch. An impressive burst of speed (and arguably the “move of the night”) by Jolly enabled him to join the lead pair after 26 laps, where the three riders worked together until the final lap where Gittings won the sprint ahead of Rutter and Jolly. Clark, who had been timetrialling to catch the trio in the final 15 laps, had to settle for fourth place overall (but third placed A rider). Trevor Bradbury was the best of the B riders, followed by Zittel and Ivory with Cameron Thomson finishing as second C rider and McNoughton third.