but, thanks to some excellent and speedy remedial works, riders ended up starting the season just a single week late. Even the weather gods were on the side of the riders tonight: although the evening was chilly and a few spots of rain materialised, riders were bathed in evening sunshine for the later races.
First race of the evening was the C riders’ 10 lap scratch race. After a rather muddled start, when a number of riders found themselves off the back of the pack, group soon became reunited after the lead riders assumed a more sedate pace. It was at this point that Harvey McNaughton (i-Team CC) took advantage of the more relaxed pace and broke away from the front of the pack unchallenged. The strength of McNaughton coupled with the bunch’s unwillingness to chase meant he quickly increased his lead and, with three laps remaining on the board, he had lapped the field. Despite his solo efforts during the race, McNaughton still won the final sprint to cross the line first, ahead of Cameron Thomson (Performance Cycle Coaching) and Thamana Nel (i-Team CC). Amber Joseph (Palmer Park Velo) led the ladies home, with Joshua Knowles (Palmer Park Velo) championing amongst the U14 boys.
12 riders started the B race which followed and, for the first half of the race, the group remained in an orderly bunch. The first rider to escape from the bunch was Alex Jones (Twickenham CC) who managed to create a discernible gap between himself and the rest of the group. Morgan Jones (Banjo Cycles) led a chase back but, with many riders caught unaware, the move merely dispersed the other riders. Alex Jones took advantage of the broken peloton to enhance his lead and ultimately crossed the line eight seconds ahead of his nearest competition. Dylan Thomas (VC Meudon) won the minor sprint, with Trevor Bradbury (Python RT) taking the final podium place.
10 riders lined up for the A scratch race which assumed a fairly speedy pace from the gun. When it accelerated further in the middle section, a handful of riders found themselves off the back of the group. However, a tempering of pace meant, within two laps, the group were once again united. With two laps remaining, a group of three riders had punched away from the rest of the bunch: Mike Mottram (KTM), Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden) and Frazier Carr (University of Bath CC). A determined chase led by Nick English (Banjo Cycles) with Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC) on his back wheel. Unfortunately, the case came too late to stop the trio crossing the line first, led by Rutter and followed by Mottram and Carr.
The first of the Hare and Hounds races followed, and the smaller group of C riders were set to chase the large group of D riders. It took five laps for the familiar trio of Thomson, McNaughton and Nel to break away from the other C riders and lead the chase back to the slowing D riders. After catching the group, the trio sat in with the bunch enabling most of the other Cs to also make the catch and, in the final sprint, it was once again Thomson, McNaughton and Nel who took the top three places across the line. Amber Joseph put in an excellent effort to see her win her second race of the night for the ladies, with Jamie Kimber (Cotswold Veldrijden) taking second place. Chloe Jones (Palmer Park Velo) pipped Emma Pitt (Palmer Park Velo) on the line for third spot. Guest rider Jamie Bray (Newport Olympic CC) was the best amongst the U14 boys.
With spots of rain already starting to make riders’ rollers slippery, it was somewhat of a surprise to have the late evening sun make an appearance at the start of the A&B Hare and Hounds race. The palpable determination of the B riders meant their well-meaning peloton quickly dispersed enabling the A riders to make visible inroads into the group with each half lap that passed. However, the earlier B scratch race winner, Alex Jones, clearly had other ideas about an A rider winning the race and, together with Dylan Thomas, took off from the bunch with four laps remaining. With just two laps remaining, Jones sprinted away from his partner in crime, Thomas, and earned a third of a lap advantage over the rest of the group and crossed the line first. In the minor sprint, Rutter took the honours – and first place amongst the As – with Mottram in second place. Thomas’ earlier efforts were rewarded with second place amongst the Bs, with Pete Osborne (British Cycling Private Member) taking third. Nick English took third place for the As.
With riders already reporting windy conditions at a cold Palmer Park, most were somewhat relieved at their decisions to forfeit the first attempt at setting a time in the season long West London CA kilo competition. Two riders were brave enough to test themselves against the elements: Nick English and Kevin Easterbrook (RAF). English undoubtedly drew the short straw, lining up on the back straight and therefore having to suffer the headwind three times. He ultimately crossed the line in 1:22.470 – a time which he will undoubtedly better as the season – and weather – progress. Easterbrook finished four seconds adrift in 1:28.440.
A large field of 22 riders started the C devil race which followed. Impressively, U14 rider Knowles managed to stay in the group until three laps remained and two female riders – Joseph and Kimber – were the last to be eliminated before the Nel, McNaughton and Thomson. Nel was eliminated with one lap to go and it this time it was Thomson who managed to cross the line first, some half a second ahead of McNaughton. The B race saw Alex Jones and Osborne joined by Oliver Clark (RP Racing Team) to contest the honours in the final lap. Jones asserted his dominance on the B league further by taking his third win of the evening, some 1.5 seconds clear of Osborne. Clarke took third. In the As, it was Rutter’s powerful sprint which once again saw him cross the line first, ahead of Mottram and Carr.
It was a case of “blink and you’ll miss it” for the following races – for the C riders, a two lap dash, whilst the As and Bs had the luxury of a third lap. The results for the Cs appeared remarkably familiar, with Thomson demonstrating his already strong turn of speed has improved even more this season and he crossed the line some 2.5 seconds clear of second placed Nel. McNaughton took third. Joseph once again took the ladies’ event, with Pitt just a wheel’s width behind. Kimber took third place. Knowles once again took first place amongst the U14 riders, finishing in sixth place overall.
The three lap dash for the “B” riders was a much closer affair, with the top four riders finishing in a tight sprint and separated by just half a second. It was Jones who once again took the crown, with Dylan Thomas in his wake. Guest rider Filippo Negroni took third spot. The A race was a similarly tight affair, although it was once again Rutter who was able to triumph in the sprint. Carr took second place, with English snatching third from Greenstreet on the line.
Some of the league format may have changed, but the 20k still formed the traditional final event of the evening. A large field of 29 riders lined up for the start in a race which would ultimately only have a completion rate of a little over 40%. The poor completion rate was perhaps due to the fast pace which was assumed from the start, with riders attempting to break away in the neutralised zone before the gun was fired. After the initial attempts of breaking away were cooled, Rutter and Mottram found themselves in a 2-up some quarter of a lap clear of the bunch. Nick Cammell (Mountain Trax RT) made some notable efforts to try and catch the pair, but was unable to do so. With 14 laps remaining, such was the speed of the race, the large chasing peloton had been reduced to just four riders: Alex Jones, McNaughton, English and Greenstreet. Despite their ordered chasing, the determination of Rutter and Mottram meant they were able to keep their lead for the whole of the race and it was Rutter, unfazed by his sprint efforts throughout the night, who triumphed against Mottram. McNaughton’s sprint saw him take the minor victory from the chasing quartet which earned him the accolade of first placed C rider and third place overall. English finished third “A”, with Alex Jones taking the victory for the Bs. Anna-Marie Hughes was second placed B rider, finishing just a bike length ahead of Kimber who took first place amongst the C Ladies.