With rain once again threatening to kybosh the evening’s racing according to most weather forecasts, riders were treated to beautifully warm and still conditions – whilst the rest of Berkshire was being battered by storms and flash flooding. For once, it did seem like the weather gods had taken a shine to track cycling.
The first event of the night was the 10 lap C scratch race. The remained bunched for the first four laps but it was once again Carl Jolly (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) and Cameron Anderson (Palmer Park Velo RT) who broke away from the field at this point, with Alex Jones (Twickenham CC) joining the duo within a lap. The three worked to hold off the fast encroaching bunch, and looked dangerously close to being consumed on the final bend. Jones was the first of the three to accelerate away the bunch and, sadly for him, paid for this early break with Jolly and Anderson passing him on the finishing straight to claim first and second respectively. Jones still managed to hang on for third; a clear three seconds ahead of his nearest rival. Best of the ladies was U16 Amber Joseph (Palmer Park Velo), with Joshua Knowles (Palmer Park Velo) winning the battle amongst the U14s.
12 riders started the A trackcycling 10 lap scratch. With no riders making a decisive break, the result came down to a sprint in the final lap. It was Matt Gittings (awcycles.co.uk) who won the sprint in the final straight, with Matthew Lansley (RP Racing Team) and Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden) just a fraction of a second behind taking second and third place.
The B scratch started with eleven riders and within a lap, Tom Zittel (Willesden CC) made a determined break from the front of the pack. Sadly for Zittel, no-one joined him and he was unable to sustain his advantage; soon admitting defeat. With two laps to go, it was Daniel Lansley (RP Racing Team) who put in a decisive burst of speed and broke away. Heartbreakingly, his break turned out to be half a lap too early and he was overcome by the fast paced finish of Matthew Roper (Brixton Cycles). Guest rider Niel Dunnage (Cotswold Veldrijden) put in an excellent final lap to claim second place, and Tom Hemmant (BC Private Member) took third.
The sprint heats formed the next part of the programme, followed by a second scratch race for the C riders. The second race – a six lap affair this time – saw Thomson cross the line first, followed by Jolly. Jones this time was squeezed out of third place by U14 rider Angus Hawkins (Palmer Park Velo). Lydia Brookes (GS Henley) was first woman across the line.
The points races followed. The A riders were first up for their 12 lap race, with Rutter taking the first full points, followed by Matthew Lansley (3 points), Matt Gittings (2 points) and Josh Mitchell (RP Racing Team). The next two sets of points were contested by the same two riders: Rutter and Max Stedman (Pedal Heaven RT). Each time, it was Stedman’s unrelenting energy which saw him come out on top both times. Whilst Gittings took the full points in the final round, it was Stedman who triumphed thanks to a third place in the final points round. Rutter – who finished with the same points but nine seconds behind Stedman – took second place, with Gittings claiming third.
In the B race, it was David Sinclair (BC Private Member) who managed to feature in all four of the points laps, with two first places and two fourth places. His twelve points was enough to see him finish three points ahead of his closest competition, Dunnage, who claimed full points in the final contest of the race. Nick Cammell (GS Henley) took third place.
There were four notable absences in the points races: Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC), Ollie Hitchings (Peter Hansford Racing), Matthew Roper (Brixton Cycles) and Mark Shepherd (Banjo Cycles). The reason for this were the quartet were contesting the WLCA 1km Time Trial which immediate followed the points races. Hitchings and Roper were paired in the first heat and Roper, riding without tribars, put in an impressively powerful performance to ride a time of 1:13.63 whilst Hitchings finished with a very respectable time of 1:14.20. The following heat saw Greenstreet paired with Shepherd. Greenstreet rode typically strongly throughout to finish as top rider for the evening with a time of 1:13.10, whilst Shepherd clocked a personal best of 1:19.47.
The sprint finals followed the kilo heats, with the C riders first to take to the track. It was the familiar trio of Jones, Thomson and Jolly which took the top three spots respectively, finishing less than a third of a second apart. In the A race that followed, it was Gittings once again who crossed the line first, with Rutter finishing a tenth of second behind and Mitchell taking third. In the B race, Roper impressively crossed the line in first place – despite only having ridden the kilo just minutes previously. Sinclair finished a close second, whilst Zittel took third.
The unknown distance race followed, and riders were treated to one of the longest races for a while (seven laps). With no riders willing to make a break from the bunch, the race was once again decided in a sprint. Whilst Rutter looked like he may have the advantage in the final straight, he was overhauled by Matt Gittings on the line who clocked a time just three-hundredths of a second faster than Rutter. Daniel Lansley, took third place overall for first B rider, with guest Niel Dunnage taking second B. Alex Petersen (awcycles.co.uk) finished in fifth overall (third A) and David Ivory (Reading CC) in sixth (third B).
Sunshine still bathed the track for the final event of the evening, the awcycles.co.uk 20k. The race assumed a fast pace from the gun, which meant no riders were able to get away from the bunch with any conviction. However, the fast pace meant riders were shed fast from the bunch – in fact, such was the speed that whilst 25 riders started the race, just ten riders remained with 15 laps remaining. Gittings was the first to attempt to get away with 10 laps remaining and managed to sustain an advantage of a quarter of a lap for four laps before admitting defeat to a fast encroaching peloton. As the bell sounded, the ten remaining riders were united in a single bunch and, to complete the theme for the evening, the race was to be contested in a final sprint. It was Gittings who once again triumphed on the line, just a half wheel ahead of Stedman. Greenstreet’s intelligent positioning in the final lap saw him being rewarded with third place amongst the A riders. U16 Thomson showed he is fast becoming a contender for the A league with his strong final sprint seeing him finish third overall and take first amongst the Cs, whilst Jolly finished a fraction behind to take second spot. Cammell was the only B rider to finish the race, and claimed maximum points.