After weather had dominated concerns about Monday night track league over recent weeks, was a relief for riders to arrive at Palmer Park and be able to concentrate solely on the racing rather than what the clouds were going to deliver.
The first event of the evening was the C riders’ six lap scratch race and, for the first time this season, the U16 boys and senior riders were separated from the U14 boys and ladies and two races ensued. The U16s and seniors were first off and it was track league newcomer, Buauna Ball (Zappi’s Racing Team), who took the early lead for the first four laps. However, it was the familiar sight of Cameron Thomson (Palmer Park Velo) who came to the fore in the final straight and crossed the line just a tenth of a second ahead of Harvey McNoughton (i-Team CC). McNoughton’s teammate, Talmana Nel, finished just a wheel’s length behind to take third.
The U14 boys and ladies’ race followed, and it was the ladies who ended up dominating the race. U16 rider Amber Joseph (Palmer Park Velo) positioned herself towards the front of the group for the majority of the race, and a fast finishing straight saw her cross the line 0.2 seconds ahead of Harriet Mellor (Hillingdon Slipstreamers). U14 rider Chloe Jones (Newbury RC) was rewarded for a strong finishing lap with third place.
The A 10 lap scratch race followed, and the riders resumed an orderly formation for the duration of the race. With the bell sounding, it was quite clear that the race would be decided with a sprint. Finding himself well positioned, Matt Gittings (awcycles.co.uk) took advantage of this and powered past his competition in the final straight to take first place just 0.02 seconds ahead of Matthew Lansley (RP Racing Team). George Clark (High Wycombe CC) took third spot.
11 riders lined up for the B 10 lap scratch which followed; a healthy number after dwindling fields of late. Although the race took on a fast pace from the start, all but two riders were able to hold the pace and we were treated to one of the most orderly displays of riding in the B league that we have witnessed all season. Trevor Bradbury (awcycles.co.uk) found himself well placed going into the final lap and, showing no fatigue after a road race win the previous day, crossed the line first despite his best attempts of Nick Cammell (Mountain Trax RT) who took second place. Tom Zittel (Willesden CC) finished in third.
With the junior sprint finals and the sprint heats following, any non-sprinters had exactly an hour and 35 minutes to spare before their next race. The races were a mixture of heats and finals, and the first straight up final was the U16 boys race. It was Thomson who put in an exceptional display of sprinting in the final straight to cross the line first, ahead of Jacob Kilby (Palmer Park Velo) and Ball. Just three riders contested the first C league novice and vets final, with Ray George crossing the line first, ahead of John Wann (Palmer Park Velo) and Joseph Giret. In the second of the C novice and vets sprint finals, Tim Clark (GS Henley) held off Lee Jones (Newbury RC) to take the win, with Pete Osborne claiming third.
Six riders contested the A sprint race which was run as a straight final. It was once again Gittings who triumphed, with Sturgeon taking second place and Nick English (awcycles.co.uk) claiming the final podium spot.
The U16 9 lap points race was next on the programme. It was Thomson who once again put in an exceptional performance throughout the race, mopping up the best of the points for each of the laps. He won the race with 15 points, with Nel and Dylan Thomas (Palmer Park Velo) each winning four points. As Nel finished nearly a second clear of Thomas, he took second place with Thomas finishing third.
The U14 boys/ladies points race followed which turned out to be a much closer run affair than the previous race. It was Joseph who found herself best positioned for the points laps, and she convincingly won the race with 10 points. However, Jamie Kimber (Cotswold Veldrijden) put up a good fight to take the full set of points in the final sprint, crossing the line first. Kimber earned seven points to take second place, with Lorna Bowler (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) taking third place with five points. Emma Pitt (Palmer Park Velo) finished with the same points as Bowler, but it was Bowler’s sprint in the final straight which gave her the victory ahead of Pitt.
10 riders lined up for the A devil race which followed. With riders being singularly eliminated each lap, it was the familiar trio of Gittings, Clark and Matthew Lansley who were left in the final lap. Gittings consolidated his 100% win rate for the night, crossing the line only 0.05 seconds ahead of Clark. Lansley fought well, but could only manage third place on this occasion.
11 riders started the B devil race. The final three riders left were Zittel, Daniel Lansley and Tom Hemmant (BC Private Member). A fast finishing Zittel managed to overcome Lansley on the final straight to take first place, with Hemmant taking the final podium spot. With Cammell only managing sixth spot, the final positioning will no doubt add further spice to the B points competition for the year.
The U16 Track League Individual Pursuit Championship followed, with the first heat formed of female riders, and the second and third heats taken by the U16 boys. Amongst the girls, Emma Pitt rode exceptionally well to clock a fast time of 4:09.18, finishing nearly two seconds clear of her nearest competition, Amber Joseph (4:11.03). Emma Clarke took third spot with a still highly credible 4:18.42.
Amongst the boys, it was Anthony Anderson (Sigma Sport) who took the win with an excellent time of 3:36.41 – a win made all the more impressive due to his lack of aerodynamic equipment. Joseph Linehan (Palmer Park Velo) took second place with a time of 3:46.83, with Cameron Thomson finishing less than two seconds adrift to take third place with a time of 3:48.03.
The B sprint final followed, and it was once again Zittel who crossed the line first, with Hemmant taking second place and David Ivory (Reading CC) putting in an strong final half lap to take third place.
In ideal conditions two riders decided to take up the challenge of the WLCA Kilo. Ollie Hitchins (Peter Hansford Racing ) just missed improving his best with 01:14.31 and George Clarke (High Wycombe CC) recorded 1:17.01 for his first attempt at the distance.
A further scratch race was next in the programme for the C riders, and the race largely followed an orderly format right up to the bell. Thomson made up for only being able to claim bronze in the pursuit with a decisive win, ahead of McNoughton and Nel.
The final race of the evening was the awcycles.co.uk 20k. There was significant confusion at the start when Donal Linehan (Newbury RC), unaware that the Unknown Distance race had been cancelled, took off from the line to claim a lap on an otherwise neutralised bunch. Sadly for Linehan, the race was cancelled once the judges realised the confusion and was restarted. The race had the added excitement of containing a prime after 11 laps. The prime was largely contested by the B riders in the sixth lap, although it was George Clark who found himself the victor. Six riders took advantage of the tired riders who contested the preen: Gittings, English, Clark, Matthew Lansley, Mark Shepherd (Banjo Cycles) and Frazier Carr (awcycles.co.uk). The race was decided in a sprint, with Gittings taking the win ahead of English. Clark took third place, pushed all the way by a fast finishing Matthew Lansley. Nick Cammell took first place amongst the Bs, with Zittel finishing a lap adrift for second place. Hemmant took third place. Nel took his first 20k victory of the season in the C race, with McNoughton finishing barely a bike length behind for second place. Natasha Reddy (Palmer Park Velo) took third place.