Rained off Monday night track meetings have sadly become quite a trend this year and, when the clouds started to roll in as 7pm approached, we did wonder if the evening would become yet another casualty of the meteorological Gods. However, it was lucky meeting number seven for the riders and the rain did hold off – just.

Although the night was to be dominated by derny racing, there were still some other exciting races throughout the night. First race of the evening was the Hare & Hounds for the C riders. The large field of 25 riders were split into two groups with the U16 boys and men chasing the U14 boys and women. It didn’t take long for the older hounds to overcome the hares and, by the last lap, the race had broken into multiple disparate groups. However, it was once again U16 riders Anthony Anderson (Sigma Sport) and Cameron Thomson (Palmer Park Velo) who fought it out for the win in the final straight. Eventually, Anderson overcame Thomson by just a tenth of a second, with Carl Jolly (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) being rewarded for his valiant efforts with third place.

Next, it was the turn of the A and B riders to contest the Hare and Hounds. The hares (B riders) rode an ordered race from the start, and maintained a fast pace. Although the A riders did eat into the B riders’ advantage each lap, it appeared than this week’s Bs may just be able to earn the rare accolade of holding of the As. However, it was not to be: the pace accelerated and the valiant Bs were swallowed up with a lap to go. It was at this point that Matt Gittings (awcycles.co.uk), George Clark (High Wycombe CC) and Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC) took advantage of a gap at the top of the field to break away from the bunch. Gittings eventually took the win in a strong sprint in the final sprint, with Clark just holding of Greenstreet’s advances by just 0.15 seconds.

The only other race before the derny heats started was the C unknown distance. The group remained largely together until the bell sounded four laps into the race. Positioned well at the bell, Joseph Linehan (Palmer Park Velo) used his advantage to steal his first win of the season ahead of Anderson and Thomson who took second and third respectively.

Cleared fuelled by defeat in the unknown distance, it was once again Thomson and Anderson who fought it out for the win in the C 10-lap scratch which followed the derny heats. This time, Thomson got his comeuppance by finishing just 0.1 second ahead of Anderson. Linehan once again rode well to claim third spot.

The B derny final followed, and a fast pace was assumed from the start. Whilst all the riders ended up finishing just over six seconds apart, it was Sam Grant (WDMBC) and Nick Cammell (GS Henley) who ended up fighting it out for the win in the final lap. In the end, Grant snatched the win just 0.15 seconds ahead of a fast finishing Cammell. Tom Zittel (Willesden CC) rode a strong race to finish in third place.

The A derny final followed a similar theme to the B race. This time, the race at the front was between Clark and National Derny Champion, Gittings. With a lap to go, the race was so close the victory could have gone to either rider. However, it was the experience of Gittings and his incredible turn of pace which saw him eventually take the win a clear 0.4 seconds ahead of Clark. Third place went to Frazier Carr (awcycles.co.uk) who finished some 20 seconds behind the leading duo.

The A/B unknown distance followed. The race lasted for six laps, and remained fairly united throughout which could only mean one thing: a sprint finish. Clearly unfazed by his performance in the derny race, Gittings put in a fast 30 second final lap to take the win ahead of a strong finishing Greenstreet. B rider Henry Dawson (Prestige VC) rode an impressive race to finish third overall and first B. Donal Linehan (Newbury RC) took place for the As, with David Ivory (Reading CC) and Zittel taking the remaining minor places for the Bs.

The final race of the evening, the awcycles.co.uk endurance 20k race, took on a similar format to the unknown distance races. The riders took on a fast pace from the gun and, such was the speed, no-one was able to make any discernable break away from the bunch. With a few laps to go, it became clear that it was going to come down to a sprint the final lap. Gittings sealed his 100% win rate for the night by crossing the line first. In a display of maturity, U16 C riders Thomson, Anderson and Jolly also contested the final sprint finishing just a fraction behind Gittings to take the top three C placings respectively with Greenstreet finishing just behind to take second A. Clark finished half a second behind Greenstreet to take third A. Ed Giles (Maidenhead & District CC) was the best of the Bs, with Cammell taking second and Ivory third.

Report by – Rachael Elliott