There’s something about Mondays. Yet another league meeting threatened with rain, and yet another afternoon of “will it rain?” or “will it shine?” questioning. It was perhaps the drizzly footage of the final British stage of the Tour de France in London earlier in the afternoon which deterred many riders from attending but those that did were rewarded with an evening of high quality racing.

The C league six lap scratch race opened the night, with eleven riders taking on six laps of the track. It took just two laps for the group to splinter, with under 16 riders Cameron Thomson (Palmer Park Velo) and Thamana Nel (i-Team CC) breaking away convincingly from the front of the bunch. With none of the bunch willing to chase the duo, they managed put more and more distance between themselves and the bunch throughout the following laps. It was eventually Nel who took the lead at the final corner, but was passed by Thomson in the final sprint who won the event by half a second from Nel. The rest of the bunch were left to sprint for third position, and it was Pete Osborne who was victorious for this highly contested minor placing.

Nine riders lined up for the A riders ten lap trackcycling scratch race which followed. As has become normal of late, the riders assumed an orderly peloton for the first 5 laps of the race. At this point, a spurt by Nick English ( injected pace into proceedings, but the increased pace of the race meant none of the riders could make a discernable break from the pack. With the bell sounding, it was George Clark (High Wycombe CC) who took the chance to try for the win from a lap out, although the move proved fruitless against the sprint might of Matthew Gittings ( Gittings took the lead on the final corner and was able to hold it right the way to the line. Meanwhile, Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC) rode an exceptional final straight to hold off his younger competition and claimed second place, barely half a second behind Gittings.  Such was Gittings’ and Greenstreet’s determination, both riders put in a sub-31 second final lap. Max Stedman (Pedal Heaven RT) took third place.

The final scratch race was for the B riders. Just seven riders lined up for the ten lap race, and it was Tom Hemmant (BC Private Member) who made the early break after five laps. Hemmant was quickly joined by Daniel Lansley (RP Racing Team) and Nick Cammell (Mountain Trax RT). The veritable trio continued to increase their lead and, with Richard Gostick (Reading CC) and Ash Ellis (Performance Cycles) dropping out, the remaining duo of Sam Grant (WDMBC) and Jun Aishma (BC Private Member) had little hope of catching the front bunch. Cammell had managed to forge a decisive lead going into the final lap and was able to hold this right until the line, ultimately finishing some four seconds ahead of Hemmant (second place). Lansley took third place.

A mixture of keirin races followed; some races were run as heats and, where there were insufficient riders, some races were run as straight finals. The first of the straight finals was for the U14 boys. In this race, it was Callum Macleod (Palmer Park Velo) who got the better of Jan Corsten (Palmer Park Velo) to seize first place. Joshua Knowles (Palmer Park Velo) fought all the way to the line to take third spot. The U16 boys/novice/vets group was next to be run as a straight final, and it was Thomson who, clearly untroubled by his strong performance in the scratch race earlier in the evening, rode an exceptional final lap to take first place half a second clear of Nel who once again had to settle for the runner-up spot. The fast improving Lee Jones (Newbury RC) took third place. With the B riders in such depleted numbers for the meeting, their race was also run as a straight final. Cammell chose to sit the keirin out, and it was Daniel Lansley who took the win, just two-hundredths of a second ahead of Grant. Hemmant finished in third place.

The C ladies and A riders had had to have heats for the keirin and were awarded the luxury of a break between the heats and the finals – in the form of the Devil races. First up was the C Devil race and, with a large field of 19 riders starting the race, the riders were pulled off in pairs for the first four laps of the race. The trio of Thomson , Nel and sole U14 rider, Macleod, were left to contest the final lap. Thomson was once again able to put in an excellent final straight to take first place ahead of Nel and Macleod who took second and third respectively.

Just seven riders started the A Devil, with Gittings and Matthew Lansley left to contest the final lap of the race. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Gittings who got the better of Lansley in the final straight. Stedman, the rider eliminated in the penultimate lap, took third place. With just seven riders starting the B Devil, it was Daniel Lansley and Hemmant who were left to contest the win in the final lap. Lansley put in a fine sprint in the closing half lap to claim his second victory of the night, with Hemmant having to settle for second. Cammell, who narrowly missed getting through to the final lap, took third place.

The final two keirin finals followed. The ladies’ final was first up, and a strong ride by Amber Joseph (Palmer Park Velo) saw her triumph, despite a sterling effort by Anastasia Welsh (RP Racing Team). Emma Clarke (Palmer Park Velo) took third place. Chloe Jones (Newbury RC) who finished the race in fourth spot was the best of the U14 riders. The A keirin final followed and, with such a strong line-up, we could be sure that an impressive race would follow – and we weren’t disappointed. Gittings put in a characteristically strong final straight to cross the line first, although was pushed all the way by Matthew Roper (Brixton Cycles) who, in doing so, clocked the fastest lap of the race. Matthew Lansley (RP Racing Team) took third place.

The second C scratch race of the night followed, with this race being contested over the slightly longer distance of 10 laps. With 18 riders starting, it ended up being the most popular event of the evening so far. The race remained relatively ordered, with 14 riders remaining in the bunch until the final lap. In the end, Thomson managed to cement his 100% win rate for the evening ahead of Nel and Knowles. The female trio of Jamie Kimber (Cotswold Veldrijden), Lorna Bowler (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) and Emma Pitt (Palmer Park Velo) were the top the ladies who impressively finished fourth to sixth respectively overall.

The A/B riders’ unknown distance race followed. No riders were willing to make an early break; all eagerly anticipating the bell to signify the final lap of the race. On this occurrence, the bell was sounded after six laps, and it was Gittings once again who put in a phenomenal final sprint to cross the line first. B-rider Daniel Lansley’s 30.4 second final lap saw him take a convincing second place overall (first B rider) ahead of Frazier Carr ( English took third spot amongst the A riders, with Cammell and Grant taking second and third place for the Bs.

The AW Cycles 20k started at a frantic pace and, for those who were poorly positioned at the start, it meant significant effort had to be made just to stay in the bunch. Within just four laps, the race became separated in three disparate groups. With the leading quartet consisting of the talent of Stedman, Gittings, Clark and English, there seemed little doubt that the group would be able to hold their lead for the entire race. The second foursome was composed of Greenstreet, Cammell, Thomson and Matthew Lansley, whilst the final bunch consisted of the remaining eight riders who were not shelled out by the blistering pace of the first few laps. The lead group retained such an advantage, minor attacks for the lead – largely led by the ever energetic  Stedman –  were noted throughout. However, it was with three laps to go that the winning break was made:  English put a gap of 50m between himself and the rest of the bunch within a lap, and impressively held his lead until the line to take a convincing win. Stedman left his advance a little too late, but still managed to collect the runner-up place with a fast surge in the closing lap. Clark took third place, with Gittings having to settle for fourth. Thomson was able to triumph amongst the second quartet of riders to take first place amongst the C riders, with Cammell taking first place amongst the Bs. Hemmant earned second place within the Bs, whilst Jun Aishima’s  resilience was rewarded with third spot. Nel was second placed C rider, with Joseph taking third. Indeed, any rider who managed to finish last night deserved some credit: the race was the fastest 20k of the season so far.