although the wind was perhaps more blustery than many would have hoped – particularly those who would be competing for places in the final of the divisional pursuit later in the evening.
First up was the C riders’ 10-lap scratch race. The U16 boys who normally attack within seconds of the gun sounding were notably absent this week due to school exams, and this meant the race became a more measured, unified affair from the start. The group remained a compacted bunch until the bell sounded (something rarely seen in a C race), and at this point it was clear that the best sprinters in the race would prevail. The race gave a chance for the ladies to shine this week, and a strong sprint by Jamie Kimber (Cotswold Veldrijden) saw her cross the line a bike length ahead. The sprint for second place was undeterminable by sight between Joshua Knowles (Palmer Park Velo) and Chloe Jones (Palmer Park Velo), but Knowles ended up taking second place by just two-hundredths of a second from Jones.
Next up it was the A riders’ 10 lap trackcycling scratch race. Nine riders lined up to start the race, and it took until three laps to go before the forceful trio of Neil Rutter (Cotswold Veldrijden), Michael Mottram (Spokes of Bagshot) and George Clark (RP Racing) broke away from the bunch. A sub-31 second closing lap saw Clark shelled from the group, leaving Rutter and Mottram to contest the sprint. Rutter pipped Mottram on the line, with Clark having to settle for third place.
It took just four laps for the B trackcycling scratch race to disperse, courtesy of Oliver Clark (RP Racing Team). Although Clark was quickly chased down by the bunch led by Lee Jones (Newbury RC), it served the purpose of injecting pace into the race. With the bell sounding the riders were united into a single bunch and it was Alex Jones (Sigma Sport) who chose to take the race on first. However, U16 rider Cameron Thomson (Andover Wheelers) who was riding with the Bs rather than the Cs due to the lack of attendance of U16 competition, asserted his dominance by sitting in Jones’ slipstream throughout the closing lap and sprinting past to take the win by a bike length. Pete Osborne (British Cycling Private Member) took third place.
The 6-lap course des primes was next to be contested by the C riders. Kimber, who had shone in the earlier scratch race, dominated throughout the race, winning the first four laps and collecting 26 points in total; double that of second-placed Knowles. Callum McQueen (Palmer Park Velo) snatched the victory in the final lap which rewarded him with third place overall.
The A&B Hare & Hounds race was next on the programme, and the A riders quickly made inroads into the Bs – despite a number of notable absences due to essential preparations for the divisional pursuit heats which followed. With the riders remaining bunched until the final lap, Rutter once again took the opportunity to demonstrate his powerful closing sprint, crossing the line with daylight between himself and second placed George Clark. Osborne took a hard fought third place.
The first heat of the divisional individual pursuit championships followed which pitted the 2014 winner, Nick English (Banjo Cycles) against the hugely talented Michael Mottram (); his aerobic prowess demonstrated by finishing just outside the top 20 in last year’s British time trial championships. Mottram started fast and immediately put himself ahead of English, and observers wondered just how long it would be until he tired. However, it soon became obvious that Mottram was not going to succumb to any premature lactate build-up and crossed the line in 5:14.04. English still managed an impressive ride in far from perfect conditions, recording 5:21.80.
The second heat featured last year’s third placed finisher, Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC), against Frazier Carr (University of Bath CC). Greenstreet started well, but the effects of riding a 50 mile time trial the previous day soon became highly evident, and Carr found himself up on the former British Masters pursuit champion. However, Greenstreet’s efforts in the final lap saw him claw Carr’s advantage back to win the heat in 5:31.28 – exactly 0.7 seconds clear of Carr.
The final will now be a repeat of the first heat and, whilst Mottram may have held the advantage today, English has been inside Mottram’s time on previous occasions so the final should provide some interesting competition.
The four pursuiters would undoubtedly have been pleased that the C points race was next on the programme. The riders had just three chances to collect points in the race, and it was Kimber who once again pounced her authority in the race, claiming maximum points in the first sprint, with Euan Macleod taking second. McQueen took maximum points in the second sprint, but with Kimber and Macleod each taking minor points, the race would be decided on the final sprint. It turned out to be McQueen’s day: with Knowles crossing the finish line first, McQueen’s second place was enough to cement the win, with Kimber taking second place. Knowles took the well deserved victory.
The B points race was next on the programme which saw U16 Thomson completely dominate the race, taking first place in every sprint lap to take maximum points. Osborne’s second and fourth placed sprints was enough to seal second place, with Alex Jones taking third by virtue of his second place in the final lap. In the A points race that followed, Rutter was undoubtedly favourite to take the crown having not competed in the previous pursuit races. He did indeed take full points in the first sprint, but was closely trailed by a seemingly unfatigued Mottram. It was after this point that Rutter and Mottram, together with English, took off from the rest of the bunch and were able to contest the remaining two sprints as a trio. The second sprint saw the top two places reversed with English collecting third place, but Rutter was able to confirm the win by crossing the line just ahead of Mottram at the end of the race. English’s move to get in the breakaway with the pair proved fruitful and he was able to take third place.
The unknown distance races followed, with the C riders the first to line up. The bell sounded after just two laps when McQueen was at the front of the bunch. Knowles, however, took advantage of his prime position in the slipstream to steal the win, with Chloe Jones just a tenth of a second behind to take second place overall. Samuel Dawson (Palmer Park Velo) took third place. The A&B unknown distance lasted just a lap further, with Oliver Clark powering away after two laps and putting a third of a lap between himself and the chasing bunch. The group chased hard and Clark’s time at the front seemed limited. However, he managed to summon his strength in the final lap to hold on for the win, crossing the line over a second clear of Rutter, who won the minor sprint for the line. Thomson finished in third place.
The last event of the evening was the AW Cycles 20k endurance race and 22 riders lined up to start the race. English attacked in only the second lap and was joined by Greenstreet. The veritable duo managed to put a third of a lap between themselves and the chasing pack. However, on this occasion, the group certainly did chase and the pair lasted just 10 laps before Thomson led the chase back. Michael Mottram’s turn was next and, taking the bunch by surprise, he stole away from the group. The group chased hard, shedding half the field in the process, but could not catch Mottram who managed to successfully lap the field – no mean feat on a track the length of Palmer Park. With no other riders able to match Mottram, the final sprint would only be for second place. Rutter once again took the minor honours, with Carr taking second place. Nicholas Beech (GS Henley) finished first amongst the B riders, with Alex Jones in second place and Filippo Negroni (British Cycling Private Member) taking third.