After recent meetings had been disrupted by rain and miserable conditions, the threatened showers for the fifth meeting of the Reading Track League failed to materialise and riders were treated to a mild evening with perfect racing conditions. Furthermore, with midsummer’s day approaching, even the floodlights were not needed until the start of the 20k.
The first senior race of the evening was the six lap “C” Hare and Hounds. The 23 riders were split into two groups with the U16 boys and men chasing the U14 boys and women. It took just three laps for the ordered hounds to catch the hares which caused the race to become a single peloton. Lee Jones (Newbury RC) was the first to make a move in the final lap, accelerating away from the group in the back straight. Unfortunately, he was unable to hold off the sprint might of U16 riders of Cameron Thomson (Palmer Park Velo) and Thamana Nel (i-Team CC) who finished in first and second place respectively with Jones managing to hold on for third place.
With derny heats taking up the next 45 minutes of racing, the first race for the “A” and “B” riders – the trackcycling 10 lap scratch – started just after 8pm. It took eight laps for the first attack to be made, and it came in the form of a decisive but subtle escape by George Clark (High Wycombe CC) which he quickly turned his lead into a third of a lap advantage. Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC), Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden) , David Sinclair and Sam Sturgeon (NRG Sports Massage) led out with two laps remaining in an attempt to catch Clark. The chasing riders left their attack too late however and, despite a furiously fast last lap, Clark crossed the line a whole second ahead of the chasing bunch. Greenstreet managed to pass Rutter in the final straight, with the riders taking second and third place respectively. Sinclair was the best of the Bs, with Nick Cammell (GS Henley) taking second place and Tom Zittel third spot.
The “C” derny final for U14 boys followed and the race quickly became a domestic battle between Palmer Park Velo teammates Angus Hawkins, Joshua Knowles and Jan Corsten. In the end, it was Hawkins who took the victory, just three-hundredths of a second ahead of Knowles. Corsten rode well to take third spot. Amongst the ladies, U16 rider Emma Pitt (Palmer Park Velo) showed her strength to take control of the race from the start, although Lydia Brookes (GS Henley) rode exceptionally well to provide Pitt with some real competition throughout with the two riders finishing in first and second place respectively. Sasha Quarrington (RP Racing Team) rode well for third, finishing a whole 10 seconds clear of her next competition.
The A points race followed. The first points lap was decided in a sprint finish, with Matt Gittings taking the full points with Rutter earning three points, Sam Sturgeon (NRG Sports Massage) taking two points and Tom Sefton (RP Racing Team) winning the final point. The second points lap at eight laps was a much more frenetic affair. Greenstreet led out the lap on the back straight, but was this time unable to hold of Rutter and Gittings’ sprint in the final straight. Sefton again crossed fourth for the minor points. Stedman, who had remained largely quiet for most of the race, took advantage of the tiring riders to form a break with Rutter, Clark and Gittings who successfully managed to gap themselves from the rest of the field. In the final lap, Stedman attacked successfully to take the maximum points with Rutter, Clark and Gittings taking the rest of the positions. Rutter’s good positioning in each of the points laps saw him take the win, with Gittings taking second and Stedman’s efforts in the final lap to reward him with third place.
The B points race splintered from the gun, with Tom Holden (Hargroves Cycles) riding a fast lap to earn maximum points in the first sprint, with Sinclair, Tom Hemmant and Sam Grant taking the remaining points respectively. Sinclair then sealed his domination to take the next set of points despite the efforts of Edward Giles (Maidenhead & District CC), Cammell and Zittel. It was after these points that Sean Gorvy (GS Henley) made arguably his best ever race move in the track league: Gorvy broke away from the group, to take the final two points laps with a third of a lap margin over the rest of the field. Sadly for Gorvy however, Sinclair managed to take second place in the two remaining points laps and was rewarded with overall victory with Gorvy having to settle for second place. Holden’s maximum points in the first points lap was enough to earn him third place overall.
18 riders started the C unknown distance and, with the night turning into a long evening due to the derny heats, all bets were for a shorter race this evening. However, the judges allowed the race to continue for a full seven laps. Thomson once again took the win with a powerful sprint in the final straight with Jones showing he is fast removing his “novice” status to take second place. Nel took the final podium spot.
With the night closing in fast, the A&B unknown distance was cancelled and the evening moved straight onto the AW Cycles Endurance 20k. A healthy field of 31 riders started the event and Gittings, clearly untroubled by his efforts earlier in the evening, made a break from gun. “B” rider Holden was the only one to give chase, but was unable to make significant inroads into Gittings’ early lead and was soon swallowed up by Sturgeon and Malcolm Freeman (High Wycombe CC). Gittings impressively managed to hold onto his lead for a whole 15 laps and, as soon as the catch was made, the peloton were spurred into action and a group of four riders – Stedman, Greenstreet, Clark and an impressively infatigued Gittings – formed a group who managed to gap themselves from the field. With six laps remaining, Stedman injected a burst of energy into the quartet but was still unable to shake Clark and Gittings. The group remained together for the remaining laps of the race, with Stedman putting in an impressive final lap to take the win a whole second ahead of Clark. Gittings took third place with Greenstreet managing to remain away from the rest of the peloton to take forth place. Cammell was the first “B” rider across the line, with Zittel taking second and and Gorvy finishing third. Thomson win in the bunch sprint saw him finish first “C” rider, with Nel taking second and Harvey McNoughton (i-Team CC) taking third place.