Derny competition

The first derny heat saw Oliver Moors (Speg – Project 51) take to the front of the race from the first lap, and never look back. Moors, who was second to Matt Gittings at the Welwyn event in June, looked untroubled throughout the 22 laps. The only rider to bother Moors was Symon Lewis (Nuun-Sigma Sport London Race Team). Lewis challenged Moors for the lead at a number of points in the race, but Moors was always able to respond. A 27.7 second lap at the end of the race was enough to seal a comfortable victory for Moors, with Lewis finishing six seconds adrift to take the second place in the major final. Frazer Carr (, who rode a strong race throughout and finished just a single lap behind and Jun Aishima  progressed to the 20k minor final, with the sole female competitor in the event, Claire Kitching (Newbury RC) qualifying for the 15k minor final.

The second heat saw Joe Gorman (Stevenage CC) make a fast start and take an early lead. Within three laps, Gorman had increased his advantage to some 20 metres over the rest of the field whilst Paul Barnard (Southdown Bikes Cycling Club) led the rest of the bunch. However, Barnard’s efforts clearly cost him and as he tired, Adrian Ward (Shaftesbury CC) took his chance to take to the front of the bunch behind Gorman. Ward looked to have a place in the major final assured, but Cameron Thomson (Palmer Park Velo) had other ideas. Showing pacing maturity beyond his years, Thomson increased his pace to overtake Ward with just three laps remaining and even a catch of Gorman seemed feasible as the bell sounded for the final lap. However, Gorman was able to hold on to hold on and take victory just 1.8 seconds clear of Thomson. Ward’s hard fought third place earned him a place in the 15k minor final. Barnard was able to hold on for fourth place to become the second qualifier for the 15k minor final, whilst Gavin Mitchell (Twickenham CC) finished in fifth to qualify for the 15k minor final.

Six riders started the final derny heat, and it was Nigel Stephens (Finchley Race Team) who stole the early lead. Whilst Stephens was able to sustain his lead at the front, he was unable to put a significant distance between himself and 2013 national derny champion, James Holland-Leader (Nuun-Sigma Sport London Race Team). Holland-Leader positioned himself behind Stephens for the first eleven laps of the race at which point he increased his pace to decisively pass Stephens. Meanwhile, Neil Fraser (Stevenage CC) had been quietly biding his time in third place since the second lap. Fraser’s early laps were at a relatively sedate 33 seconds, but he slowly decreased his lap times as the race progressed. With five laps remaining, Fraser started churning out 30 second laps and passed Holland-Leader with just two kilometres left. The two were joined by Max Brown (Zappi’s Cycling Club) and, with the bell sounding, the heat was set to be decided by the closest margin of all the races so far. With a burst in the final straight, Fraser snatched victory by just four-hundredths of a second from Holland-Leader. Clocking the fastest lap of the race, Brown chased hard in the final lap but had to settle for third place; heartbreakingly just seven-hundredths of a second from a place in the major final. Stephens’ early pace was not enough to cause a complete fade, and he took the second place in the 20k minor final. John Heffernan (New Forest CC) and Connor Woodford (Willesden Cycling Club) progressed to the 15k minor final.

James Holland-Leader (Nuun-Sigma Sport London Race Team) leading Neil Fraser (Stevenage CC) in the final derny heat

The first final of the after was the 15k minor final which consisted of Heffernan, Woodford, Mitchell and Kitching. The quartet stayed tightly packed for the first part of the race with Woodford leading the pack round from the fourth lap. However, with 21 laps remaining on the board, Heffernan starting lapping a second quicker than previously and took the lead. However, he was unable to make a discernable gap between himself and Woodford and the pair broke away from the rest of the group. Whilst Mitchell looked set to join the duo, he lost touch with his derny at the crucial point and dropped off the pace significantly. With eight laps remaining, Woodford accelerated further and managed increased the gap between himself and Heffernan to some 30 metres. Not one to take defeat easily however, Heffernan clawed Woodford’s advantage back and, with the bell sounding, was overlapping Woodford’s wheel. However, a burst of speed in the final straight was enough to seal victory for Heffernan by a third of a second from Woodford. Mitchell took third place and Kitching finished fourth.

The 20k minor final consisted of Carr, Brown, Ward, Stephens, Barnard and Aishma. It was Barnard who took the initial lead, with Stephens taking his place after two laps where he stayed for the next 20 laps with Ward tucked in behind in second. The first rider to disrupt the front pair was Brown who, after biding his time in third place, accelerated hard in the 24th lap to pass Barnard and Ward to take first place. The move had the appearance of knocking the wind out of Stephens’ sails and he became relegated to fifth place after a further two laps, but this was more down to Stephens holding pace and the rest of the bunch accelerating hard. With 15 laps to go, it was Max Brown (Zappi’s Cycling Club) who took to the front and the group quickly dispersed. Frazier Carr ( was the only rider to stay in contention of the win, and riding his fastest lap of the race with seven laps remaining, he was able to steal the lead from Brown. Although Brown was able to stay close to Carr for the following three laps, a brief loss of touch with his derny meant Carr was able to increase his lead. A swift final lap was enough to seal victory by nearly four seconds, with Ward taking third place.

Paul Barnard (Southdowns Bikes Cycling Club) takes the early lead in the 20k minor final

The DernyFest 25k formed the final race of the day. Holland-Leader, who recently finished second in the National Derny Championships and was 2013 champion, was strong favourite going into the race. However, it came clear from the third lap that Moors was keen to disrupt this seeding. Accelerating to a speed of 38mph, Moors gradually increased his lead from the rest of the bunch by 2-3 seconds per lap; his confidence belying his junior category status. Within twenty laps, Moors had successfully lapped the field – and showed no sign of tiring. However, whilst his cadence remained high, his 27-28 second laps became 29-30 second laps, and second-placed Holland-Leader’s laps started to increase in pace. With 16 laps remaining, Holland-Leader had managed to unlap himself, and his determination to continue eating into Moors’ lead was palpable.

Meanwhile, the battle for third place became a contest between Lewis and Gorman. Whilst Lewis looked comfortable in third place for the first half of the race, Gorman’s better pacing saw him pass Lewis with 20 laps remaining on the board and he slowly increased his pace to create a safe distance between himself and Lewis. Meanwhile, Fraser and Thomson were having their own battle for the two minor places in the race, with fifth place regularly changing hands between the pair of them.

As the final few laps approached, it became obvious that Moors was going to hold onto his lead and Holland-Leader was going to have to settle for second place, despite his best efforts. Moors’ eventual victory was a comfortable seven seconds, Gorman held on for a convincing third place, with Lewis claiming third. The tightest finish, however, was for fifth and sixth spots. Perhaps unsurprisingly for those who have been witness to his fast finishes at the Reading Track League, Thomson’s fast closing sprint saw him pip Fraser for fifth spot by just a single second.

The race sealed an exciting afternoon of derny racing with some exceptional demonstrations of talent across all three derny finals. The success of the derny races were, of course, down to the skill of the derny riders themselves. This year’s pacers were as follows:

Major Final

Oliver Moors (first) was paced by Tony Hibbert
James Holland-Leader (second) paced by Graham Bristow
Joe Gorman (third) paced by Steve Heffernan

20k Minor Final

Frazier Carr (first) was paced by Chris Macleod

15k Minor Final

John Heffernan (first) was paced by Steve Heffernan

13 = Unlucky for none! Oliver Moors steals away with the lead in the DernyFest Major Final

Women’s Omnium Competition

Sunshine bathed the thirteen ladies who arrived at Palmer Park for the third meeting of the National Women’s Omnium League. The 500m time trial formed the first event of the day, and it was Janet Birkmyre (TORQ Performance), last year’s winner of the series, who took to the track first. With a blustery wind, Birkmyre set a mark of 39.02 in her lap of the track. The first to lower the bar was Ellie Coster (Bush Healthcare CT). Coster put in a stunning ride to clock a fast time of 37.56. It appeared that Coster and Birkmyre would hold on for first and second respectively – until Hanna Blount (Derby Mercury), the penultimate rider took to the track. Blount rode a fast 38.59 to put herself in second place between Coster and Birkmyre.

The 18-lap points race was next on the programme, and a slow pace was assumed as the race got underway. The whistle for the first points lap spurred the race into life, and it was Coster who took the full points in the first lap in a tight sprint, followed by Flora Gillies (Speg – Project 51) and Birkmyre. Coster rode wisely for the next three laps, and was able to accelerate in the final straight to take the next set of points ahead of Birkmyre and Niki Kovacs (Brixton Cycles). It was at this point that Jayne Paine (Willesden CC) took advantage of the fatigued group to make a decisive move away from the front of the bunch and soon found herself with a significant gap. With the peloton stalling, Paine’s lead continued to increase and she easily took the next points lap with Blount the best in the sprint for minor points. Paine continued her relentless drive, and took the following full points with Birkmyre this time taking the points for second in the bunch sprint. Paine went out to lap the field, taking a further 10 points for her effort. Even with Coster taking victory in the final sprint and taking three of the five sprints, the 10 extra points awarded to Paine were enough to see her take victory with 20 points ahead of Coster’s 17. Birkmyre finished in third place.

Jayne Paine goes for broke in the points race

Racing hard early on in the points race

The sprints followed, and the first four riders at this stage of the competition went head-to-head in the first heat. Coster’s power which saw her take the first sprint, with Birkmyre finishing just a tenth of a second adrift for second place. Gillies consolidated her overall third position with third place in the sprint, with Paine taking fourth. The speed Blount had exhibited in the time trial at the beginning of the afternoon was replicated in the sprint and saw her win the second heat, with Robson crossing the line first in the final sprint.

The penultimate event of the omnium was the pursuit which, due to the obscure distance of a lap of the Palmer Park track, was marginally under two kilometres. With a gold medal in this year’s British Masters Track Championships, Kovacs was the favourite going into this event – and she did not disappoint. Kovacs covered the four laps in 2:31.6, exactly two seconds ahead of Coster. Blount clocked 2:36.0 for third place, just 0.6 seconds ahead of Birkmyre whose characteristically strong overall performance across all events meant she remained in second place overall with just the scratch race remaining.

Niki Kovacs (Brixton Cycles): Fastest in the pursuit with 2:31.6

The 18-lap scratch formed the final event of the day, and series leader Coster only had to finish in the top five to be assured of an outright win in the event. Birkmyre had the same advantage over third place. After a relatively sedate start, it was Emma Pitt (Palmer Park Velo RT) who was first to break away from the bunch, and she did so which such assurity she was able to hold her advantage for a full 12 laps. However, with seven laps remaining on the board, it was Harriet Mellor (Hillingdon Slipstreamers), who spurred the bunch into action and, with Paine taking over the determined chase, a 33-second lap was enough to pull the peloton back past a tiring Pitt. The race was decided in a tight sprint, with the first nine riders finishing with just over a second between them. Coster managed just to pip Birkmyre on the line with an advantage of just 0.13 seconds, with Gillies just a wheel length behind in third.

Ellie Coster (Bush Healthcare) leading the scratch race

The overall event saw Coster take the win with just seven points; impressively winning three events and getting second place in the remaining two. Coster remains unbeaten in the series so far this year, and there is certainly a great future ahead for this rider who is only 18 years old. Birkmyre’s second place was no less impressive, however. Aged more than 2.5 times that of Coster, her performance is one which would undoubtedly have produced a win in a different competition. Meanwhile, the third position on the podium belonged to Blount. Blount demonstrated some exceptional short speed across the events, with her performance in the time trial and pursuit demonstrating her true athletic ability. Whilst the podium finishers may have walked away with the silverware, there were others who put in some truly impressive pockets of performance throughout the afternoon: Paine gaining a lap in the points race, Pitt’s brave attack in the scratch and Gillies’ fast sprints in the closing metres of races were all moments which will help to make the event a memorable occasion.

Janet Birkmyre (TORQ Performance), Ellie Coster (Bush Healthcare CRT) and Hanna Blount (Derby Mercury); Second, First and Third in the overall omnium competition