Riders attending the Bordeaux Paris meeting on Saturday were met with blustery conditions at Palmer Park, but thankfully the promised late April showers failed to materialise. The event, which had always been scheduled to be run at Palmer Park, was briefly moved to Welwyn when British Cycling rendered the Reading velodrome unsafe but, thanks to some speedy remedial work, the meeting was moved back – and subsequently entries shot back up.
The first of the derny races was the Ladies/U16 Stage 1 race. The first nine riders after 18 laps qualified for Stage 2. For experienced derny riders, qualification should be fairly straightforward. However, it did not stop a breakaway duo forming after 11 laps consisting of Joseph West (1st Chard Whs) and Carl Jolly (Hillingdon Slipstreamers). The duo stayed evenly matched for the closing laps, with Jolly letting West set the pace. However, with the bell sounding, Jolly stole the lead and crossed the line some six seconds clear of West. The category’s defending champion, Janet Birkmyre (TORQ Performance), safely qualified in fifth place with Reece Pollen was the best of the non-qualifiers, picking up a £5 cash prize as consolation.
Birkmyre’s strategy of claiming a safe fifth in the first stage was undoubtedly sensible; retaining some freshness in her legs would undoubtedly stand her in good stead to retain her title in the second stage of the race. It was Matthew Burke (Newport Olympic Cycling Club) who took the early lead, with stage one winner Jolly always keeping him within striking distance; even taking the lead briefly for three laps halfway the race as if to assert his authority. Daniel Coombe (Newport Olympic Cycling Club) looked to be riding well enough to take third, but Birkmyre, who had been biding her time in fifth place for most of the race, clawed herself back into third place for the remaining eight laps. By this time, Jolly had cemented himself a clear distance from Burke and cruised through the closing laps to take victory by nine seconds. Burke crossed the line in second place, with Birkmyre having to settle for third place this year.
All eyes would be on last year’s winner Alistair Rutherford (The Nab Racing) in the first stage of the senior race, held over the 20km distance. The race soon became one of the closest we have witnessed for some time at the meeting, with no fewer than 15 riders tightly packed at the front of the race. It was Rutherford however, who was the first to make a determined move to get through to the next round: with nine laps remaining on the board, he accelerated away from the bunch, soon putting half a lap between himself at the chasing group. Rutherford safely crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of the group, and it was James Notley (Mammoth Lifestyle Racing Team) who won the closing sprint from the rest of the bunch. The national derny championship runner-up from 2014, Stephen Bradbury (Velosure Starley Primal), claimed safe third. The time difference between qualifying for stage 2 and not ended up being just three-hundredths of a second, and it was David Brearley (Team Vertex) who was the first of the eleven non-qualifying riders who would undoubtedly spend some time post-race trying to work out where he could have found those deciding milliseconds.
Brearley managed some consolation, collecting £8 for second place amongst the final four laps for non-qualifiers, although was heartbreakingly just three-hundredths of a second (again!) from victory. It was Brendan Drewett (Fareham Wheelers) who stole the victory in the final lap, holding off Brearley in a fine display of strength.
The final was certainly not without drama for the qualifying nine riders: Max Stedman (Pedal Heaven RT) was riding strongly when, rather heartbreakingly, Keith Wilmot’s derny lost power. However, Andrew Pitt calmly took the spare derny and was able to continue pacing Stedman, although the incident had cost him contending the title. It was then defending champion Rutherford who became the next casualty: Pip Taylor, who was pacing Rutherford, suffered a puncture. Rutherford, unflappable in the face of defeat, took to the wheel of another rider’s derny and bided his time until Pip could collect another derny from the store. Rutherford then calmly worked his way to victory, although last year’s runner up, James Holland-Leader (Nuun-Sigma Sport-London RT), put up a strong fight and finished just three seconds adrift. Oliver Moors, with a herculean effort in the final lap resulting in the fastest lap of the race, was the only other rider able to finish in the same lap as Rutherford and Holland-Leader, taking third place.
Thank you Jun Aishima