Another week, another Monday filled with “will it rain/won’t it rain” anxiety. Thankfully we had the weather gods on our side, and the evening’s racing went ahead without a drop of rain hitting the track. Although the junior riders had a strong presence in the evening’s racing, the senior ranks were heavily depleted with just nine A riders and five B riders contesting the evening’s racing. Notable absences were from those who had won medals at the National Masters Track Championships: Nick English (1 x silver medal), Neil Rutter (2 x bronze medals) and Trevor Bradbury (1 x bronze medal). Ian Greenstreet (1 x silver & 1 x bronze medal) impressively put his medalled counterparts to shame by competing in the evening’s racing.

The C Hare & Hounds formed the first event of the evening, with just seven U16 hounds chasing a much larger group of seventeen hares consisting of the U14s, senior riders and ladies. It took just four laps for the hounds to catch the hares and, as the bell sounded, all the riders were in a single group.  On the final bend, four riders managed to distance themselves from the group with Cameron Thomson (Palmer Park Velo) getting the better of Anthony Anderson (Sigma Sport) just two metres from the line. Of the remaining breakaway quartet, Carl Jolly (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) just managed to take third place ahead of Joseph Linehan (Palmer Park Velo).

Nine riders started the A trackcycling 10 lap scratch race and the fast paced bunch remained together until the last lap. As the bell sounded, the group concertinaed with all the riders unwilling to take on the sprint from such a long way out. In the end, it was Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC) who made his way around the top of the field and injected pace into the proceedings.  Matt Gittings ( then managed to distance himself from the bunch in the final straight and, with his powerful sprint, finished a third of a second ahead of his nearest competition. In this case, it was Matthew Lansley (RP Racing Team) who took second place – less than a hundredth of a second clear of Max Stedman (Pedal Heaven RT) who finished in third.

A very depleted field of just five riders started the B scratch race and it took just three laps for Tom Zittel (Willesden CC) to make the first break. With no other riders willing to bridge the gap, Zittel was unable to sustain his advantage alone. However, the catch of Zittel caused the group to disperse and, with such few riders, the race essentially became a race of five individual time trials – with the exception of the 2-up pairing of Zittel and Ed Giles (Maidenhead & District CC). In the end, it was Tom Hemmant (BC Private Member) who was rewarded for his strong performance in the last lap with the win, with Zittel taking second place and Giles third.

The U14 boys, girls and veterans C derny race followed. John Wann (Palmer Park Velo) made a strong start and looked set to win after four laps where he saw his lead overcome by Jamie Kimber (Cotswold Veldrijden). However, a strong final lap meant Wann was able to take victory, ahead of Leigh Mason (second place) and Kimber (third).

The A points race followed the derny races. The race split quickly into two groups, with Gittings, George Clark (High Wycombe CC) and Stedman breaking away from the rest of the bunch after the first round of points had been awarded, soaking up the points for the remainder of the race. In the end, it was Gittings who crossed the line first and won the race with 16 points, with a flu-ridden Clark defying his virus to take second place. Stedman took third place with seven points.

In the B points race which followed, it was Mountain Trax RT’s Nick Cammell who had his consistency rewarded who took the win with 14 points. Zittel came close to snatching the win with a charge in the final lap, but was overcome by Sam Grant (WDMBC) in the final bend so had to settle for second place. Giles took third place.

Before the unknown distance races could take place, there were two more C derny races to contest. The first race was the U16 boys and novices final. Linehan had a conservative start compared to his competitors, but after just four laps he was able to hold on to a convincing and increasing lead which resulted in him crossing the line nearly three seconds clear of his nearest competition, Jolly. Thomson had to settle for third place. In the U16 girls/ladies final, Emma Pitt (Palmer Park Velo) stole the lead from the start, and held it for the full six laps. Amber Joseph (Palmer Park Velo) put in a fast final lap and, although unable to catch Pitt, finished just 2 seconds adrift in second place. Emma Clarke (Palmer Park Velo) was rewarded for a steady start with third place.

The A&B unknown distance race followed and, with a fast pace resumed from the start, no rider made a break until the bell sounded after six laps. It was once again Gittings who found himself well placed to make the final charge for the line to take his third first place of the evening, with RP Racing Team teammates Tom Sefton at Matthew Lansley finishing just behind to take second and third amongst the As respectively. Zittel was the best of the Bs, with Grant just a tenth of a second adrift for second place.

In the C unknown distance, Emma Pitt (Palmer Park Velo) made a decisive break right from the gun. Pitt was able to hold her lead for two laps when, as the bell was sounding, she was passed by the pack. In the end, it was the trio of Thomson, Anderson and Jolly who finished first, second and third respectively with just two-tenths of a second separating them. Emma Clarke (Palmer Park Velo) finished just ahead of the tiring Pitt to claim top spot amongst the girls.

The derny racing made for a late start to the 20k endurance race (21:15) and it was perhaps this which led riders to pursue the fastest 20km of the season so far. Riders covered the distance at an average speed of 27.1mph and it was therefore of little surprise than it took until eight laps to go until any discernable break was made away from the field. This time it was Stedman who pushed away from the field, and he managed to hold off the fast riding bunch for a whole seven laps whereupon he was heartbreakingly caught on the final corner by an accelerating Gittings. Gittings’ last lap was covered in a blistering 30.88 seconds which was enough for him to take the win ahead of C riders Thomson and Jolly and consolidate a 100% win rate for the evening – a perfect present to himself on the eve of his 22nd birthday. Greenstreet put any thoughts of fatigued legs from the weekend’s competition behind him to take second place amongst the As, with Stedman still managing to hold on for third. Anderson took third place amongst the Cs and it was Cammell who once again took victory in the B riders’ competition ahead of Giles and Zittel.