After weeks of events being rained off (or nearly rained off), it is somewhat ironic that now we have entered the autumnal season, riders were greeted with conditions which were some of the warmest of the season.
The warm conditions certainly brought out the crowds tonight: 29 riders started the first race of the evening, the “C” riders 6-lap scratch race. The pent up enthusiasm of a number of weeks away from the track was immediately evident as the group splintered from the start. In the end, it was U16 rider Charles Page (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) who, having remained in the front two places for the entirety of the race, powered away from the bunch in the final stages to take the win ahead of Harvey McNoughton (i-Team CC) by 1.3 seconds. McNoughton’s teammate, Thamana Nel, was another 1.3 seconds adrift in third place. Harriet Mellor (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) put in a strong final lap to finish first amongst the ladies.
The A race which followed assumed a much more orderly appearance and, with two laps remaining, the bunch remained together. George Clark (High Wycombe CC) was the first to take on the race with 1.5 laps remaining, although Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden) managed to get into his slipstream and, with Rutter’s sprint potential, would always be a danger to Clark. With the bell sounding, the pair still were able to hold their advantage. It was Rutter’s sprint in the final straight which saw him take the win, just 0.1 seconds ahead of Clark. A fast finishing Nick Abraham (British Cycling Private Member) saw him just steal the final podium spot ahead of Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC).
Eight riders lined up for the B scratch race which followed. Like the preceding race, the bunch remained largely together until the final lap when David Ivory (Reading CC) who had been biding his time in the middle of the peloton clocked the fastest lap of the race to take the win ahead of Nick Cammell (Mountain Trax RT). Trevor Bradbury (awcycles.co.uk) held on for third.
The sprint heats followed which served as perfect preparation to fatigue the riders ahead of the points races which followed. First of the points races was for the U16 riders and vets/novices. Page, who had already shone in the first scratch race of the evening, crossed the line first in the final two points laps and collected a second place first. This saw him take the race win ahead of Cameron Thomson (Palmer Park Velo) who had put in an impressive sprint to take the first points lap of the day. Consistent riding by Nel saw him cross the line in fourth spot in each of the three points laps which saw him achieve a well-earned third place.
In the U14 and ladies/girls points race which followed, it was Amber Joseph (Palmer Park Velo) who dominated. Joseph collected full points on the first and final sprints and, with a fourth place on the middle set of points, she claimed the top stop. Mellor took second place with well-timed efforts for each of the points laps, with Emma Pitt (Palmer Park Velo) taking third place.
The A/B riders were treated to a Devil race rather than a points race, and a large field of 20 starters meant riders were eliminated at a rate of two per lap. The three riders who had taken the top spots in the earlier scratch race were the three left in the final lap – despite the best efforts of Nick English (awcycles.co.uk) who was cleverly managing to nick just in front of the last two spots on every single lap. It was Rutter’s sprint which once again got the better of the other two riders, with Clark claiming second and Abraham third. Daniel Lansley (RP Racing Team) was the best placed “B” rider, managing to stay in contention for eight laps, whilst Abbie Dentus (Team De Ver Cycles) put in an exception ride; only being eliminated with two laps remaining.
The first of the sprint heats to follow was the ladies “C” race, and this time it was Cotswold Veldrijden rider’s Jamie Kimber’s chance to shine: Kimber, going into the final lap in second place, put in an excellent final lap to take the win by just three-hundredths of a second from Emma Clarke (Palmer Park Velo). Pitt took third spot.
The rest of the “C” riders were pitted against each other in the next sprint final, and it was Thomson’s chance to finally get his comeuppance on Page, albeit sprinting to victory with just a tyre’s width to spare. Pete Osborne (British Cycling Private Member) took third place.
In the A sprint final which followed, it was Clark on the front as the second lap approached. Rutter, who was a fair way down the bunch in fifth spot, put in a 34mph final lap to try and seize victory, but was denied on the line by a fast finishing Matthew Roper (Brixton Cycles). Clark held on for third place.
The final sprint final was for the B riders and, although just four riders started, it didn’t make the race any less exciting; the top three finishers crossing the line just a tenth of a second apart. It was Daniel Lansley who took victory, with Henry Dawson (Prestige VC) denied the top spot by just six hundredths of a second. Tomasz Dereszynski (British Cycling Private Member) finished just a wheel behind for third place.
The penultimate heat of the West London CA 1km time trial followed. Oliver Hitchings (Peter Hansford Racing) was first to contest the gruelling test. Hitchings has been chasing Ian Greenstreet’s leading time of 1:13.10 for a number of weeks and today, despite another hard fight, he found himself short by 0.46 seconds, crossing the line in 1:13.56. Donal Linehan (Newbury RC) clocked the second fastest time of the night with 1:18.60, with Nick Beech (GS Henley) taking third with 1:20.94.
The C riders were treated to another scratch race next and a strong group of five riders (Thomson, Page, Nel, McNoughton and Osborne). managed to distance themselves from the rest of the field. Thomson, who appeared to have gained a second wind in the sprint final, continued his strong riding to cross the line first, ahead of Page and third-placed Nel.
With a packed programme, the unknown distance race which followed took on a rather predictable short format with the riders contesting the race over just four laps. Clark and Hugh Knudsen broke away early on in the race but it was Rutter who, through being well positioned going into the final lap, was able to take victory by a significant distance from Knudsen. Next across the line was B-rider Cammell, with Clark finishing just behind to take third amongst the As. Dentus once again put in a stunning ride to finish on Clark’s wheel, with Ivory taking second place amongst the B riders and Dereszynski third.
The final event of the night was the 20k and, although 28 riders lined up to start the race, a ferocious pace in the first few laps meant a number of riders were shed almost immediately. After just 15 laps, 12 riders had already been dropped and, after 33 laps, there were just two “B” riders remaining in the field and a single “C” rider. The final eight laps of the race were contested by a much reduced field of 12 riders who, despite riders attempting to break away from the field, remained as a compact bunch until the final lap of the race. In the end, it was Rutter who once again sprinted past the rest of the riders in the closing lap to claim first spot, with English, having lead a number of the breaks throughout the race, hanging on for second place – just eight hundredths of a second adrift. Abraham took third place. Page, finishing in fourth overall, was the only “C” rider to finish, with Trevor Bradbury getting the better of the only other remaining “B” rider, Cammell, to take first place amongst the Bs. Dentus was the only female to finish the race, taking an impressive 10th overall in the tightly packed finishing bunch.