Reading Track League (Meeting 2); 28 April 2014

With all weather forecasters predicting that Palmer Park would be bathed in rain showers for the second meeting of the Reading Track League, many riders would have undoubtedly started the day thinking racing would be called off. And, as if to tease riders even further, a heavy rain shower at 6pm meant some riders made a (sadly premature) decision to stay at home. However, those who did make it to Palmer Park were treated to a night of exceptional – and, mostly importantly, dry – racing.

A large group of riders assembled for the first senior race of the night: the “C” Hare & Hounds race. The riders were split into two groups and, with the race penned as only six laps, it seemed to be a tall order for the hounds to catch the hares. However, with such determined enthusiasm by the hounds from the whistle, it took barely two laps for the hares to be caught. In a sprint finish, Anthony Anderson (Sigma Sport) took the victory, two bike lengths clear of Cameron Thompson (Palmer Park Velo) with Alex Jones (Twickenham CC) taking a close third place.

The “A” and “B” Hare & Hounds which followed was a more ordered affair, with the A riders catching the B riders. Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC) made an early break for the line, but in the end was overpowered by Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden) who showed off his sprinting prowess to take first place just 0.2 seconds ahead of Matthew Lansley (RP Racing Team). John Wager (BC Private Member) rode a strong last lap to take third place.

In the C unknown distance, the large group stayed together until the bell when Anastasia Welsh (RP Racing Team) took to the front of the bunch in the final lap. In the end, it was once again Anderson’s powerful sprint which brought him across the line first ahead of Thomas with Jones taking his second podium spot of the night to finish in third.

The “A” derny race was run as a straight final as just six riders elected to take part. A well paced race by Max Stedman (Pedal Heaven RT) saw him cross the line first with an impressive 26.95 second final lap. Lansley’s efforts were rewarded with second place, with Wager taking third.

In the 10 lap “C” scratch race, the group largely stayed together for five laps with riders taking turns on the front. After 5 laps, the group were spurred into action and, within a lap, the ordered bunch had been spread along 50 metres of track with a fast and furious pace ensuing. At the bell, just 12 riders remained in the front group. Anderson put in a burst of speed on the final bend and impressively managed to hold it to the line to make it a hat trick of wins for the evening. Thompson’s impressive efforts in the final half lap earned him second place, with Carl Jolly (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) finishing just behind for third.

In the B derny final, the group stayed largely together for the first 10 laps. Tom Zittel (Willesden CC) took the early lead, challenged by Mark Shepherd ( A late burst by Nick Cammell (GS Henley) put him in contention of the win, but in the final lap a race ensued between Sam Grant (WDMBC/Beyond) and Stuart Stow (Hounslow & District Whs) which resulted in an exciting sprint in the final straight. In the end, Grant took the victory with Stow finishing a close second. Shepherd put in a strong final lap to take the final podium place.

In the unknown distance, the A and B riders were combined. However, with the night drawing in, numbers were dwindling and just 13 riders started the event. No-one took the opportunity to make an early break this week, with Wager making the first move after three laps. Rutter set off in pursuit and the two of them formed a veritable two-up, working together right to the line. In the end, it was Rutter’s sprint prowess which got the better of Wager and the two took first and second place respectively. An excellent final lap by Lansley saw him take third place in the minor sprint for the line.

As is traditional, the 20k formed the last event of the night. A fast pace was assumed from the start, and any attempts by riders to break away were quickly chased down. The first group to make a discernable split was lead by Greenstreet, who took Rutter and Shepherd with him. However, the fast pace of the peloton consumed the group after just one lap. Wager, clearly unfatigued from his efforts during the night, made a solo break off the front, but without any other riders joining him, the break became fruitless and he was caught which resulted in a slowdown of speed within the group. Stedman took the chance of the next break and took himself and four riders with him from the front of the bunch. A further two riders caught the front pack with the race now split neatly into two groups of seven riders. Any attempts by riders in the second group to catch the first were unsuccessful, and the group of seven remained tightly packed until the bell. A bunch sprint ensued, and Rutter impressively took his third win of the night. Second place went to “C” rider, Anderson, with Wager’s efforts rewarding him third place overall. Lansley’s strong final lap earned him third place amongst the “A”s, with Stow the best of the “B”s.