Bristol Oktoberfest – Better than Munich…
Aaa, summer. How beautiful while it fleetingly lasts, and how sad to see it go. Still, if there’s one thing to look forward to when the nights grow shorter and the ambient temperature drops, it’s the approach of October, because when the tenth month starts, that means Oktoberfest is not far away.
The Bristol Oktoberfest is the second of two classic annual events held at Ashton Court, a stone’s throw from the mouth of the Severn – an eight hour mountain bike endurance race, there are categories for teams of four, pairs, or (for the truly masochistic) solo entries in male, female and mixed forms, with further subdivisions for single speeds and old git racers. As such, it attracts a wide variety of abilities, including the returning Team NTG MTB, back to have a second crack at the excellent single track on offer after our great (if tough!) endurance debut at June’s Bike Fest.
Instead of putting ourselves through the grinding pre-race endurance test of camping, we set some early-morning alarms and charged down the M5 first thing. An early start, to be fair, but given the fairly grim weather in the build up, it was the better choice – on arrival we were greeted by a cheerful Oktoberfest-hat-type-wearing-type who guided us to park on the access road as the camping field was having some hydration issues. Team captain Jonno stepped up to the batter’s plate first of all, taking his place for the Le Mans style running start amongst the hundreds of other riders – I held his Stanton as the galloping hordes charged back up the hill, with more than a few entrants somehow accidently arriving a little late and giving themselves somewhat less of a distance to run. Strange how that happens.
As nine o’clock passed us by, the race started and a great torrent of riders came sprinting past me, a train that ran for maybe ten minutes before the last stragglers pottered by. Jon got a solid midpack start and battled his way through the traffic to complete lap one in under 43 minutes, a lap quicker than some teams who ended up 20 places or more above us – Steve went after El Capitan and logged an even quicker lap, with Luke putting a great performance in position three and me pottering nervously about on the peripheries as the anchor number four. By the time Luke handed over the team scrunchy, I’d been watching bike racing for almost ninety minutes and was tortured by a mixture of performance anxiety and a sense of gagging to get involved. No matter – time to suck it up and get stuck in.
Job number one was to charge through the rock garden, and I wasn’t in there many seconds before a most welcome experience occurred – I caught someone up. This was a bit of a new one for me, as I spent most of Bike Fest getting out of people’s way, and the rock garden’s not an easy place to pass. Consequentially, as traffic backed up behind the pair of us, I felt the onset of a needless touch of pressure and ran ride on a slick section, out of everyone’s way. Cursing under my breath, I joined the back of the snake as we pedalled out of the woods and into the field that loops up to where the finish line was or Bike Fest – and I overtook a couple more riders. Me! Overtaking people! It was just great.
Ashton Court was every bit as wonderful as it had been earlier in the year, the flowing single track largely impervious to the wet weather – the sole concession to the elements was the rather impressive construction of a wooden bridge over a particularly marshy section of trail, but the track rode really well and was little the worse at the end of eight hours of racing. Team NTG MTB’s one lap stint policy worked well once more, the 5.7 miles round the course plenty for the likes of our legs (although again, there were lunatics doing the whole thing on their own – madness, I tell thee) and working out so that we each had three laps, but by the time I rolled into the transition area for the final lap, we were up against it. In a desperation move, I left the saddle bag, Camelbak and pump at the van to save weight and took off needing to lap about five minutes quicker than I had done all day. I gave it everything, I swear, I left it all out on the track – by the time I
started the last climb, I was done for. Then some clown , with a dazzling sense of humour, shouted out that there were ten seconds left – gritting my teeth, I turned myself inside out over the last 200 metre climb, came close to stacking in front of the crowd on the finish line jump, then had to invest five minutes or so in serious hyperventational recovery mode. I’d missed the cut by, oooo, five minutes or so which made the last minute or so of torture entirely unnecessary. Thanks, Mr Clown Man.
Final climb idiocy aside, Oktoberfest was every bit as much fun as the Bike Fest earlier in the year, with an easygoing atmosphere and plenty of riding on a wonderful course. I said it after Bike Fest and I’ll say it again here – if you’ve never done an event like this, don’t be intimidated, your fellow competitors are all lovely people (even if some of them are much, much quicker ), the track is superb, and you will have a brilliant time. Can I add a proviso? I was a bit fitter for the second race, and it definitely made it more fun, but you absolutely do not have to be Thomas Frischknecht to enjoy it. I was more like Thomas the Tank Engine, and I still survived….
Newport Velodrome – ©Dave Gratton AKA SunflowerDave (on Flickr)
For someone who always has a lot to say for himself, thinking what to write about is more difficult than I thought! I should hasten to add, that’s not because I can’t think of anything, it’s because I’ve got so many ideas running around in my head it’s so difficult to chose.
So my decision has been made for me because for the first time in weeks I have an hour or so to spare to put pen to paper (yes, I am actually writing this on paper) as I’m sitting in the stands watching my daughter Ffion take part in a Welsh Cycling youth track session. So the subject: the importance of good cycling facilities, specifically Newport Velodrome.
The difference this sporting facility has made to Wales is difficult to quantify, but if you look at the numbers of riders both before and after this facility was built who are at or on their way to the top of the cycling tree, it’s obvious that its impact has been massive! The same can be said of Manchester Velodrome and I am sure it will be the case with the Olympic Velodrome; we should also consider Herne Hill and the riders that have benefitted from that facility. What it shows it that good facilities really do make a difference to the progression of riders coming through the ranks, whatever their cycling discipline. Of course we also need champions to inspire youngsters into the sport, but we’ve got such a conveyor belt going at the moment there is no worry about these facilities being under used.
So what memories have I taken from Newport Velodrome over the last 8 or 9 years that I’ve been making the 30-minute drive from Abergavenny to get here?
Well I might as well start with my number one memory and also because “why shouldn’t women’s cycling be given priority over men’s for a change?” If I can find the photo to accompany this when I next go hunting in the attic I’ll post it at a later date, as even now I find it quite hard to believe. Picture this: a women’s keirin with six riders on the start line. In amongst the six, the current senior World Champion wearing her stripes Clara Sanchez. Also on the start line I think it was Sandie Clair. Next up to them, a few star struck young girls from the UK including two from Wales, my 13-year-old daughter Becky and Katie Curtis. I can’t recall another current senior world champion ever racing in Newport, so that line-up is implanted very firmly in my head. By the way, it was France first and second with Becky coming in third to the disbelief of the French coach, especially when finding out Becky’s age.
As for other memories of female competition in Newport, between 2006 and 2007 the Youth and Junior Track National Championships had such strong fields the racing really was fantastic to watch. Seeing Becky, Lizzie Armistead, Joanna Rowsell, Jess Varnish, Laura Trott, Dani King…(I could go on) racing against each other with Hugh Porter getting very excited on the microphone really was brilliant. Looking back now I honestly think you could see then who was going to make it to the top and they weren’t all winners. The look of determination in a rider’s eyes is something I believe is what sets them apart and that is something you can spot at a young age. If someone happens to win a Youth National Championship on the way to the top that’s nice, but ultimately you need to look at the bigger picture and remember it’s not a sprint, it takes a lot of time and effort to win at elite level. And that’s what people will remember; senior champions not 11-year-old ‘superstars’!
On that last point, some really bad memories for me have been watching young girls of Under 12 and Under 14 level attempting to break a National Record as if it was the be all and end all. They have been all kitted out with the best equipment money can buy and their parents have been shouting so loudly at them as if they were doing it themselves, but why? Many of those I have watched are either no longer riding or just riding now and again. And why provide the best equipment at such a young age? Good equipment yes, but keep the very best as a reward and as an incentive when they are racing at international level. I really would like to see some sort of equipment specification cap on all youth riders to make it more of a level playing field and to give them something to aim for.
While I’m in the process of airing my concerns, the other thing that really worries me is that young riders seem to be specialising on one cycling discipline at ever-younger ages and training to the detriment of their education. Youth sport should not be like that. If I could single out one young rider who has got the balance right and sets an example for other to follow it is Elinor Barker and look where she is now! Elinor has given most forms of cycling a go, but over the time I’ve known her and the family her education has come first. She’s obviously had coaching, but it has been Elinor’s drive and determination to succeed that has won her the Junior World Time Trial and of course her supportive parents (I believe there could be another reason and the same applies to Becky as well; both Graham, Elinor’s dad and myself are ardent Newcastle United followers and maybe it’s because the girls have never seen us celebrate the winning of a trophy that they are doing their bit to cheer us up!).
On the male side of things, at the same time as that outstanding crop of girls I mentioned the boys’ fields were also amazingly strong and they provided fantastic racing to watch. Jason Kenny, Peter Kennaugh, Alex Dowsett, Luke Rowe, Adam Blythe, Andy Fenn…(once again, I could go on) are just a few of the names that cycling fans would recognise from the Olympics and pro-peloton this last year. Despite many outstanding races and individual performances the one that stands out still after these years is Andy Fenn’s Youth 500 metre time trial. Here was someone mixing it up with the best youth riders this country had to offer in all the circuit races around the country and he was winning the endurance and pursuit events on the track. In the 500 metre time trail he was up against all the best youth sprinters in the country including current BC Academy sprint member Peter Mitchell. I can still picture him going around the track now. I seem to recall I was sitting in the stands next to Iain Dyer, National Sprint Coach and Trevor King, father of Dani and a few others and the first thing that came to my mind was that here was the person to follow in Jason Kenny’s footsteps. Well I was wrong on that front, but I really think he has the potential to be the next big road sprinter from GB. I am not saying that Andy will be another ‘Cav’, because I am not sure there’ll be another in my lifetime, but I am sure that he’ll be winning many races and stages over the next few years. Another rider I’ve watched in Newport in a similar mold to Andy is Sam Harrison, although he’s got a few years to catch up yet.
As recent as last winter I was sitting in the stands of Newport Velodrome watching the annual ‘Winter Track League’, which mixes all abilities up into different races, both male and female. In Wales we are very lucky indeed to not only have Elinor Barker coming up into the senior ranks, but we also have Amy Roberts. To see both Elinor and Amy mixing it up with the men in the ‘A’ league really is a great sight and I am really excited about the prospect of those two girls representing Wales and GB around the world over the next few years. The girls often found themselves riding in amongst elite men, well not just elite, but professional riders. Last year watching Luke Rowe, Magnus Backstedt, Jonny Bellis and many more on a Tuesday night with the rain hammering down on the velodrome roof, whilst sipping a cup of tea, is fascinating, enjoyable and a relaxing time in amongst my hectic lifestyle.
I have never been in Newport Velodrome with a full stand of spectators, but with the success of this last season and the accessibility of cycling stars to the general public I think I might get to see that over the next couple of years. What Newport needs is the right event to fill the stands, something that has got my mind running wildfire again! Now, if that event gives equal precedence to the women riders or better still star billing, wouldn’t that be amazing?
…Next time, whenever that will be, I’ll probably write about organising my first ever hill-climb and also about the importance and thrills of cyclocross.
Thanks for reading.
Bristol Bikefest Image by © Neil AKA FireMonkey (www.iseepeople.co.uk) AKA digphotoneil (flickr)
I’ve been on the periphery of groups of people doing endurance mountain bike racing for a few years now, always on the outside looking in. But I finally got the chance to pop my endurance cherry at the Bristol Bikefest in June as part of a 4 man team going for 12 hour glory. Quite apart from being the event that meant I HAD to buy a new MTB, it was an unbelievable weekend in many ways. Some of them have no words in English adequate to describe them.
Straight off the bat, things were not looking good. Stuck in work at Banbury until six on the Friday evening, Luke, Jon and Steve had long been on site before I could even set off, they had first hand experience of the shocking weather conditions that I didn’t want to know about. Rocking up at eight after McDonalds (race fuel is important, right?) and a long drive, Ashton Court was blustery and wet. The rain had largely stopped, but the ground was wet enough that the toilets had had to be left in a separate field and duck planks laid down to give vehicles a chance to make it into the camping field. I wouldn’t say morale was rock-bottom, but neither was it at it’s adrenaline-filled peak, either. What with hydration being as important as race fuel, I’d optimistically brought a rake load of Kronenbourg, but no-one was in the mood for much more than an early night and good sleep.
The early night bit went off as planned, but the sleeping bit wasn’t great, with gales giving the tents some gyp. With the race kicking off at nine, we were all up and about by half seven, popping to the Luff Bus for bacon rolls and a hot drink – as preparation goes, it wasn’t ideal, but the others had at least had a wander down the day before and seen a few lengths of trail. Preparation, after all, is about more than just hydration and fuel.
After scientifically formulating our riding order (by going “who wants to go first? Who wants to go second?” etc) , Luke was the man to step forward for the important first stint. Following the rider’s briefing, a horde of riders meandered over the horizon to await the nine o’clock start time out of our sight, and when the clock finally struck nine, an endless stream of two-wheeled lunatics came pouring past us after the Le Mans-esque run to the bikes and mad sprint up the hill that starts the event. For the most part, the riders that flooded past were composed and happy-looking – some of them, however, looked pretty gassed straight off the bat. Hard not to get carried away at the start of a race like this, I guess, but the last thing you need is to be knackered 30 seconds after the flag drops on a 12 hour race.
It was, I found, easy to be a smart-arse before I actually took to the track. Scientifically placed at random in the number three slot, I started my stint in glory by not being in the transition area when speedy Steve turned up for the changeover. That hiccup overcome, I rolled out onto the track for the first time, down the hill through the pits, then dived into the woods for some blisteringly fast, flowing single track. And guess what – about 30 seconds in, I was gassed.
It was incredible. I’ve not been to a modern mountain bike facility on a modern mountain bike since, ooo, forever, so finding myself on pristine manmade single track under race conditions was astonishing, a really liberating experience. I flung myself (in relative terms) down the track as fast as I dared, carving arcs through a beautiful green cathedral of trees for a minute or two before a nagging doubt began to creep into the back of my mind – had I missed a turn somewhere? There was nowhere that I’d had any moments of doubt about which way to go, but even looking on the brightest of bright sides, it was unlikely that I was on the pace of the fast folk, nor was it likely that said pace was the same as the folk at the back of the field. Nevertheless, I swear I must have battled through the woods for fully ten minutes in solitude, doubt growing with every turn of the wheel, but the path was so cool, I was loathed to turn back. As I made my way downhill however, eventually I heard the sound of freewheels and chain slap slowly growing behind me. If I was lost, at least it wasn’t just me – cool.
Of course, I wasn’t lost, I must have just popped out into an unusually large gap, because most of the rest of my day aboard the bike was spent looking for places to get out of the way of faster traffic. Almost without exception, from the first to the last, they were all achingly polite, asking if they could come by and thanking me when I found enough trail to move to one side, which not only blew a personal pre-race misconception out of the water but cemented the point by proving what nice folk mountain bikers are. If ever you’ve wanted to do a race but have been put off by the fear of being out off your depth, fear no more – based on my Bristol experience, as long as you make an effort not to hold people up, they’ll all be nice to you on the way by.
Bristol Bikefest Image by © Neil AKA FireMonkey (www.iseepeople.co.uk) AKA digphotoneil (flickr)
So I cracked on, and I took it steady, knowing there was a long way to go – not taking it easy, running at about 90% instead of flat out, The track had moments of awesomeness, many great lengths of swoopy sweepy singletrack, most of it wide enough to allow faster traffic through, although there was the odd painful climb – a particular standout was the fast downhill hairpin section, very Alpine, that led into a quick righthander before climbing up… And up and up, through a horrible rising righthand hairpin, all wet roots, then a long rocky stretch, nice and damp, horrible and bobbley so you could never relax. It was nasty, and it wasn’t the only bit of track that hurt, but beyond any shadow of a doubt, the bits that stung were nothing compared to the good bits. This track rocks.
I completed lap one with a smidge in reserve, but decided lap two was party time. I went out and gave it everything, from the first turn of the pedal all the way through to the desperate, breathless crossing of the line. Depressingly, it made almost no difference whatsoever, the scant seconds I saved as likely to be down to knowing the course as to the extra effort expended, but it meant that, by the end of the lap, I was almost done. Stint three was an exercise in survival, treading the line between cracking on as fast as I could and keeping a little something in reserve for a final lap four, but by then an eerie spectre had arisen, that we might just – JUST – be able to sneak an extra lap in for one of us. It was a most curious feeling – if Natalie Imbruglia thinks she knows something about being torn, I can tell her she can think again. The extra lap might make a difference in our overall position, but we were all as close to having given our all as to make the prospect of an extra lap, even on this brilliant track, a truly scary prospect.
I put myself forward for the fifth lap then hit the track, running stint four as quick as I could muster, knowing I had Jonno to follow and, if the clock smiled on us, that meant about 35 minute’s rest and the dread lap would be on me. Making the changeover to Jon as swiftly as possible, I trembled out of the changeover area on wobbly legs to check the clock – Luke and Steve were on the job, and the news was… We were JUST out of time to do another lap. Gutted. Relieved, but at the same time, gutted.
The level of competition was an eye-opener (NTG MTB finished 88th out of 95, beaten even by the appropriately-monikered Team Inappropriate Bike, who really were on some shocking equipment), but the atmosphere was cracking, the event well run and everyone was just so friendly. But it was the track that was the star for me – first time out on my first mountain bike in 16 years, I had an absolute blast, even if the hurt lasted a long time. Roll on Oktoberest and the 8 hour endurance event at the same place – see you there…
For more information on both the summer Bikefest and forthcoming Oktoberfest, visit www.bike-fest.com
USA Women Training in Mallorca
A few weeks ago my boyfriend Jetse and I did a short visit to Mallorca, he had to do an intense block of training and the guys from Performance United have their training base there so I was excited to catch up with my sister Sofia!
It was impossible not to fall in love with the place, with those amazing views and all the mountains! We arrived at Sofia’s apartment in Alaró, such a nice little town.
Very close to her apartment is the Team House, the boys of the team live there and they also have a weight lifting room, with all the necessary equipment for track riders along with the fantastic watt bikes, and you can’t miss the flags of Ireland, USA, Turkey, Mexico and Spain decorating the room.
We had time to catch up a little bit there with coach Andy Sparks while he was showing us the place and telling us all the advantages that came with training in Mallorca, he even invited Jetse for a ride with the guys.
To me it was clear why my sister doesn’t want to come back to train in Mexico after only a few hours of being there, the Island is really special for bike rides!!! But I was so excited and looking so much forward to go to the track and see the guys in action!
But that didn’t happen until the last day, meanwhile we had time to do some training, enjoy the sun and the beach and we even went for dinner with Jennie Reed and her hubby Brandon Madden, I have to admit I’m such a big fan of Jennie since long time ago when she was a sprinter but this is the first time I’d actually met her and had time to get to know her.
When I asked her, why did she make the change from sprinting to endurance she said she was looking for a new challenge and I think instead Jennie’s creating a challenge to other teams as she rocks in the team pursuit even as much as she did as a sprinter!
Anyways back to the track… The Palma Arena is such a cool place, the track is beautiful and you can feel the great atmosphere at their training sessions, you can hear everyone cheering for each other while they’re doing there efforts and giving tips to each other to improve… its just priceless! But I have to say the biggest supporters at the track are Brandon Madden and Kirk Bausch (husbands of Jennie Reed and Dotsie Bausch) you can hear they screaming “GO, GO, GO!!!” during the whole training.
While Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed have basically made Mallorca their second home the rest of the Team Pursuit girls (Lauren Tamayo and Dotsie Bausch) come in special periods during the year, this time they were all together as they’re getting ready for London and yes… they are looking STRONG!
Other riders in the team also preparing for London are Martyn Irvine (Ireland) and David Muntaner (Spain), while Recep Unalan (Turkey) and Sofia Arreola (Mexico) are making next year’s World Cup season their major focus.
Coach Andy is looking very optimistic about the Games and I’m sure the boys and girls will get amazing results there, so excited to see them racing and I even got special t-shirts to support them along the way!
Thanks for reading!
After the success of the previous camp, I had high expectations for our second camp of the year and it didn’t disappoint. It was my first time meeting the 3 new international additions to the team for 2012; Ben Grenda, Rich Lang and Chris Jennings. The 3 guys fitted into the team immediately – probably helped by the ‘Twitter banter’ which started before we’d even met the guys and has kept everyone entertained both at home and whilst together on camp. Our stay in Benidorm was scheduled by the boss to get us race fit, just before we kick start our racing season. The harder efforts were a bit of a shock to the system, in contrary to the laid back steady riding I had become accustomed to over the winter and whilst out in Lanzarote. This time around I wasn’t nervous about the camp, but I had a small amount of doubt at the back of my mind about how I was going to perform after training was interrupted when the UK skies decided to snow. I’m writing this now about 10,000 feet up in the air, wedged into my Ryanair seat (thankfully I’m on the shorter side so I have some leg room, unlike a few of my longer team mates), flying towards London Stansted (or knowing Ryanair, somewhere within a 50 mile radius) in preparation for our team launch at Sharp HQ. Our mechanics and soigneurs are currently driving north through Spain heading towards the French border. With our bikes being driven back home, it means each of us only has to worry about getting our suitcases and a pair of sore and heavy legs back home to the UK, sometimes easier said than done.
With a total of 9 training days, the camp was split up into two four day blocks with one rest day. This alone was going to make the camp harder, and with the added bonus of specific TT, hill and leadout efforts it was destined to produce; aching legs, stiff backs and tired bodies. Along with the different style of training, we had our team nutritionist Mayur over for a few days, examining our meals and checking our skinfolds – which always brings competitiveness from everybody. We’ve decided that Luke has to be removed from the competition as he puts us all to shame! The presence of an all you can eat buffet meant that Mayur was definitely necessary to keep us in shape and to make sure we were getting the most of what we were putting into our bodies. The combination of Mayur’s advice at the dinner table and the support from Science In Sport, every rider has got through the tough camp without picking up any illnesses and we’ve all seen the ever welcome improvements in our skin folds.
The setup in Benidorm was different to the self-catering apartments we had out in Lanzarote. We had smaller rooms with 2-3 people in each, which I think suited this type of camp a lot better. There was also the huge bonus of having free wifi in every room. Having access to wifi always make for a more relaxing stay – the ability to lie in bed, flicking about the interweb after a hard days riding is priceless. This time around I was rooming with Mr Deano Downing. I learnt a lot throughout the week just from chatting to Dean about the upcoming season, and the expectations this team has. All of the talk of racing throughout the week, has every rider on the team chomping at the bit and super excited about pinning our first set of race numbers on the back of our Rapha Condor Sharp jerseys.
Along with the other stuff going on, we had the Rapha film competition winner Andrew with us for the duration of the camp. He’s producing a short film of the team, which will show the ins and outs of a Rapha Condor Sharp training camp. After seeing some of the shots he’s picked up over the week, I can’t wait to the see the finished product. A few of the days involved Andrew filming out the back of the Skoda team car with the boot open, whilst we chased him down one of the particularly fast and windy descents. All good fun!
Training throughout the week was kept simple and we made sure we got some essential race prep work done. I won’t bore you with the specifics but as I said earlier we worked on a 4 days on, 1 day off schedule. The first 3 days were each between 90-100km, with the first day working on TT efforts, the second day working on threshold hill efforts, the third day – my favourite of the block – was leadout/sprint day and finally we ended with a steady endurance day. We each worked on our efforts individually as it was clear from the beginning of the camp that we are all different in our abilities in certain areas – as expected with our age gaps and variety of different types of riders. The steady (sometimes not so steady for me when the Aussies got to the front) endurance day took us on a nice loop around the surrounding mountains, allowing us to clock up 160km in 5:30 hours with 3000m of climbing. Each ride was always a good laugh and with a few coveted ‘Strava segment sprints’ being contested there was always a good flow of conversation between everyone – saying that I was communicating considerably less on some of the climbs… not out of choice.
All in all, another highly successful camp. All of us are buzzing for the start of the 2012 racing season and judging by the way a lot of the guys were riding it won’t be long until we have a few wins under our belts either.
[flagallery gid=11 name=”Gallery”]
Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)
Gallery Images by Ben Dando & Anna Magrath
The return of the sprinters – series finale.
The last Revolution of the season got get underway on Saturday night. It saw the return of the GB big name Sprinters, representing Sky; Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Matt Crampton and the newly formed British team of V-Sprint with their high quality trio of signings; Pete Mitchell, Dave Daniell and Philip Hindes. These riders and the rest of the British sprinting squad would be pitched in battle against the French team represented by Michael D’Almeida, Mickael Bourgain and Quentin Lafargue. It was going to be an exciting competition for a number of reasons; Sir Chris Hoy hadn’t been seen on the track in the UK for a long while, the Brits have just come out of a heavy block of gym based training and finally because Jason Kenny has recently been bumped up to World Sprint Champion after Gregory Bauge lost his titles due to a UCI ruling. That decision lost the rest of the French Sprint Team (including Michael D’Almeida) their World Champion Team Sprint title which must have been hard to take.
The evening wouldn’t just be about the big guys though, there were some quality endurance cyclists present including Team Sky’s Alex Dowsett and Classic rider Ian Stannard, the crowd pleasing Dean Downing, Claudio Imhof, Cycling Shorts contributors Christian Grasmann & Tom Murray and the Yates & Mørkøv brothers.
The Revolution had sold out a long while ago. Some of the crowd had been present earlier in the day for the preliminary rounds of the sprints which took place around the National Madison Championship event (click here to read the Madison Report in another window).
There wasn’t much to play for in the Girl’s DHL Future Stars overall Championship, Emily Kay had wrapped up her title in the last round with her current total of 270 points. Jake Ragen (218pts) looked like he was going to win the boys competition unless some major incident occurred. The competition was still on for the 2nd & 3rd placings and with only one or two points in it that was were the fireworks would likely happen. Ellie Coster (192pts), Melissa Lowther (181pts) and Rebecca Hunt (173pts) were all in the chase and the Team howies girls (Coster & Hunt) had already taken the DHL Madison Championship earlier in the day from Kay and Emily Nelson. So they all looked hungry for a win; Kay certainly wasn’t sitting on her laurels.
Jake Ragen was leading the boys but he wasn’t 100% safe. 2nd and 3rd positions would be hotly contested as Ollie Wood and Jake Scott were tied on 184 point and Chris Lawless was in 4th with 167 which meant the top 4 positions were being held by two teams (Maxgear and CHEP UK).
The crowd were hungry for some sprinting action and as the teams rolled out for their introductions you could feel the excitement. When Jason Kenny was introduced to the crowd it wasn’t done with a great fanfare but his new title was recognised and applauded by the home crowd and the awkward moment was over for the French team who received their own warm welcome. This was going to be the last time you’d be able to see the British team ride at Manchester before the Olympics, the World Cup in London would be the next and final UK event (which is being held as an Olympic Test Event) before the Olympics.
Revolution 36 - Michael D'Almeida & Sir Chris Hoy - ©Copyright Ben Dando / Cycling Shorts.
So on with the sprinting… The rest of the the British riders competing with the Team Sky and the V-Sprint guys were Team GB’s Kian Emadi, John Paul and Louis Oliva. earlier in the day the preliminary rounds had taken place and Chris Hoy had come out all guns blazing to take the 200m Time Trial Sprint Qualification in an excellent 10.099 with Matt Crampton in second with 10.125, Pete Mitchell 3rd in 10.230 (a personal best for him which he was clearly elated with) and Jason Kenny only managing 4th with 10.238. It was quite cool at the velodrome in the track centre so that may have had an effect on the afternoon rounds. All three riders looked very comfortable. In the last of the afternoons sprint events; The Revolution Sprint – Round 1, Hoy and Kenny both won their heats in 10.677, with Matt Crampton and Pete Mitchell winning theirs in 10.658 and 10.912 respectively. In the semi finals Hoy was caught napping by Jason Kenny and lost out, he shook his head as he came onto the banking after the finish line. Matt Crampton dispatched Pete Mitchell in their heat. The final
was easily taken 2-0 by Jason Kenny, he had got into his stride and Matt Crampton was hauled in by Kenny on both occasions. Kenny looked to be on very good form opening up a good gap in the last corner between himself and Matt.
Kian Emadi & Pete Mitchell - ©Copyright Paul Sloper
In the Keirin Chris Hoy appeared very focused, he wasn’t going to make any mistakes in a discipline he rules, he sat at the back of the pack all the way around with everyone twitchily watching him and as the race wound up. Hoy powered into the last turn at an amazing pace, I’d love to know what speed he was doing at that point and he came over the top to take the race in style and the crowd erupted.
In the Team Sprint the Teams Sky boys were up against the French team who I have to admit I have no idea where they are in their training schedule, but I suggest going on their past amazing form they aren’t at their best… well how can I politely put it… the British Team of Kenny, Crampton and Hoy (in that order) obliterated the French Team. It nearly all ended in disaster for the British team though when Matt Crampton wobbled off the track momentarily, it turned out that his saddle rail had broken and according to Chris Hoy it nearly ended the race for them as he considered swinging up the track when it looked like Matt might lose control. They came in 3 seconds faster than their rivals with a time of 44.320, the French rolling round in 46.24. I’m sure the French team have a lot more to give and I think we will see a full strength French team at the World Cup in London. V-Sprint put in an excellent performance against the younger Team GB winning in a time of 45.440. This new track sprint team run by James Varnish the father of British Cycling star Jess Varnish looks like it’s going to be a force to be reckoned with, the team have more than proved themselves against the national teams in their first track competition. I will be writing more about the team in the coming weeks.
Before the Elite racing got underway there was a special IG Markets Handicap Race, it featured Alex Dowsett trying to lap a field of competition winners who had won a track track session that took place earlier in the afternoon between the Madison Championships and the Revolution. I’m pretty sure the poor guys hadn’t been told that they would be practicing and attempting to do their first timed lap in the afternoon in front of the whole of the assembled press and pro cyclists that were getting ready for the evening event. They put in a great effort with Sky riders joining them on the track as they practiced. In the evening Handicap Race they were joined by Sean Conway who has been at every Revolution this series raising support for his Cycling the Earth challenge. Needless to say Alex Dowsett won, but it was great fun and what a great memory for those cyclists to take away!
Elite Endurance Events
Tom Murray - Derny Race - ©Copyright Paul Sloper
The Elite racing got underway with the Team Elimination and Maxgear seemed to be a well drilled team they were fully aware of each others position on the track and won with ease. Sky had Ian Stannard putting a punishing effort in on the front but it proved too much for his own team mates and he dispatched them out the back ending Sky’s race. In the end it came down to a battle between Maxgear and Rapha; Harry Tanfield was obviously feeling strong he shot of the pack with all the effort
from his team mates (simon & Adam Yates) showing on their faces, he took the win for Maxgear in style.
Alex Dowsett Revolution 36 - ©Copyright Ben Dando/Cycling Shorts.
In the 1km Madison Time Trial the time to beat was set by the first team out; Cunga’s Owain Doull and George Atkin had a time of 59.463 which looked like it wasn’t going to be beaten with just two teams left to take to the track, the pairing of Claudio Imhof and newly crowned National Madison Champion Mark Christian of UK Youth won in style with a brilliant time of 59.036.
The Points Race was won by Alex Dowsett who had had a tough day with the 200 lap Madison Championship (were he took 2nd), he won with 28 points, 2 points ahead of howies Michael Morkov and his team mate Jon Mould who came in 3rd.
Next up was a real highlight of the evening and something I’ve never seen at Manchester a 40 lap Derny Race. In the afternoon break we had witnessed the dernys take to the track for a sort of warm up while we choked on the two stroke fumes with no clue of what was to come. Eight derny bikes circled the track picking up their individual cyclists and cranking up the speed at the cyclists request; the race was great noisy smelly fun, though I wouldn’t have wanted to be one of the cyclists with my lungs burning from the effort and fumes. Dean Downing and his Derny came off the front of the peloton to whip up the crowd with 20 laps to go but he was soon hunted down. Simon Yates seemed to be full of fight even after his long tough day of racing and he beat Michael Morkov to the line.
Michael Morkov had been right up in the standings all night and finally he got his revenge in the Scratch Race, he probably had slightly fresher legs that the British riders who took part in the Madison Championships, but Mark Christian and Simon Yates got away with two laps left in the 10km race. They started to run out of steam only to be overtaken by Morkov. An excellent finish to the elite racing.
DHL Future Stars Girls
With the championship already decided the girls were hungry for any win they could take from Emily Kay. Ellie Coster was in fighting form after her earlier result in the Madison, she nearly got boxed in on the final lap of the 6 Lap Dash but Ellie made a space for herself and pushed through to take the win. Team mate Emily Haycox came in second mopping up championship points that otherwise would have gone to Lowther and Kay who came in 3rd and 4th.
Emily Kay - DHL Future Girls - ©Copyright Paul Sloper
Ellie’s howies team mate and cohort in the Madison Becca Hunt won the Points Race with 12pts improving her overall standing but it wasn’t quite enough to overhaul Melissa Lowther (who came in 2nd with 5pts) and get her foot on the Championship podium for 3rd. There’s not doubt the howies team worked hard to protect their positions. In the final race of the evening for the girls Emily Kay fought back and beat Rebecca Hunt to the line. I think howies have to be my girls team of the night, they used their talents and strengths well.
Future Stars Boys
The boys still had a lot to fight for. Ragen had to ride intelligently and take points to defend his possible series win, while Jake Scott and Oliver Wood had podium places to defend and try to improve on. As the racing got underway with the Scratch Race, it was clear it was going to be a tough fight for the top podium step. With 14 laps to go Chris Lawless tried to get away but no one was feeling charitable so he was hauled back in. Charlie Tanfield and James Shaw then had a go but to no avail. The final attack came from Luc Hall but with two laps to go he didn’t get far and was swept up and beaten to the line by Jacob Scott of CHEP UK which moved him into the 2nd in the Championship standings.
In the 6 Lap Dash Ollie Wood won with Adam Lewis and Jake Ragen in 2nd and 3rd. Jake Scott only managed 13th which took him back down to 3rd overall in the series.
The final of the Boys events was the Points Race and Jake Ragen wasn’t taking any chances, he and his team mate Chris Lawless mopped up as many points as they could coming in 1st and & 2nd respectively with 11 and 8 points, but the boys from CHEP UK had a dilemma because both wanted to improve their podium position and they also needed to work together against the Maxgear pair, in the end they came in 3rd and 4th with Jake Scott taking 3rd position. I think Maxgear were my boys team of the night but it wasn’t enough for them to take the championship from CHEP UK who had been consistent all season.
The End of The Series
At the end of the Revolution series we saw Emily Kay winning the Girls DHL Future Stars Championship in style for the 3rd and what will be her final year (as she turns 17 in the summer). Emily won all but three events in the whole series (if I’ve counted correctly). We know she will move on to bigger and better things so remember the name! Congratulations
DHL Future Stars Boys - ©Copyright Paul Sloper
Emily! Ellie Coster came in 2nd place, her hard work and consistant riding made all the difference. The boys competition was won by Jake Ragen a full 38 points ahead of Ollie Wood, but it was a hard fought contest to the end with a number of thrills and spills along the way that scuppered a few other hopefuls. Congratulations to you too Jake!
I spoke to Ellie after the event about how the Rev’s have gone for her and what’s next, “Obviously I’m over the moon with mine and Becca’s [Hunt] Madison win this afternoon, and to win the 6 Lap dash was also great. I have had a busy season and am now well into my winter training programme. There is always room for improvement. I have just got to remember that it is the end/beginning of my season so I wont be going my best right now, my racing is going quite well for the time of the year. My favourite event is sprinting but in the Rev’s it would be the scratch race. My aim for next season would initially be to continue to improve on my sprinting times. I am working towards holding onto my current title of winner of the u16 Girls Omnium Series and ultimately to gain titles in the National Championships in August. I intend to return next year and I aim to win the Revolution Championship title.”
The team competition in the DHL Future Stars competition was won by Emily Kay’s team CHEP UK which also contained the 2nd and 3rd placing riders in the boy’s competition (Ollie Wood & Jake Scott). howies were 2nd thanks to high placed Ellie Coster, Becca Hunt, Matt Cross and Owen James.
The Elite team competition was won by Maxgear Racing who had been the best team on tactics and the Yates brothers played a big part in that. CHEP UK struggled in the Elite team competition, initially they looked like the favourites but they didn’t have any elite riders in the 3rd Revolution of the series due to illness. Their title hopes ended then, but they didn’t give up. Team Sky didn’t quite shine in the competition, they didn’t have consistent results except when Alex Dowsett was on the track. Team UK Youth had a good good start to their first season but they did fade in the last two Revolutions.
The Elite rider of the season was Simon Yates closely followed by his brother Adam. Upon receiving their bottle of bubbly on the podium Simon decided to give the photographers a bit of a soaking which I’ve never seen at and indoor track before and it was quickly followed by the photographers moving faster than I’ve ever witnessed… even when there’s a promise of a juicy shot of Vicky Pendleton they’ve not moved that fast! Simon enjoyed the moment grinning from ear to ear.
At the end of the evening when all the fuss had calmed down I grabbed a word with Chris Hoy, I will post his thoughts online shortly.
Cycling Shorts. would like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers of the Revolution; Bethan Turner, Face Partnership, National Cycling Centre, Adam Tranter, British Cycling, Stewards and not forgetting the cyclists and crowd for making such a memorable season, in my opinion the best so far! Roll on series 10!
Watch the highlights of the Revolution Series on ITV4 7pm on 30/01/2012
You can also watch online via ITV Player by clicking here.
Race Winners | Full Results
Revolution Sprint – Jason Kenny
Future Stars Boys Madison – James Shaw/Fabio Close
Future Stars Girls Madison – Rebecca Hunt/Ellie Coster
Future Stars Girls 6 Lap Dasg – Ellie Coster
Revolution Sprint Losers 6 Lap Dash – Mikael Bourgain
Team Elimination – Maxgear Racing
Future Stars Boys Scratch Race – Jacob Scott
Cycling Weekly Keirin 1 – Chris Hoy
Cycling Weekly Keirin 2 – David Daniell
Future Stars Girls Points – Rebecca Hunt
Points Race – Alex Dowsett
Future Stars Boys 6 Lap Dash – Oliver Wood
1km Madison Time Trial – Team UK Youth (Christian/Imhof)
Future Stars Girls Scratch Race – Emily Kay
Derny Scratch Race – Simon Yates
Future Stars Boys Points Race – Jake Ragen
Scratch Race – Michael Morkov
Team Sprint 1 – V Sprint
Team Sprint 2 – Team Sky
Revolution Championships Series Results
1. Maxgear Racing – 685 pts
2. Sky Procycling – 654 pts
3. Howies – 636 pts
4. Chep UK – 624 pts
5. Team UK Youth 619 pts
6. Rapha Condor Sharp 559 pts
7. Rouleur 549 pts
8 Cunga Bikes 433 pts
Future Stars Series Results
1. Chep UK 1238 pts
2. Howies 1156 pts
3. Maxgear Racing 1047 pts
4. Cunga Bikes 991 pts
5. Rapha Condor Sharp 966 pts
6. Rouleur 865 pts
7. Sky Procycling 842 pts
8. Team UK Youth 730 pts
Future Stars Boys Series Results
1 Jake RAGEN Maxgear Racing 291 pts
2 Oliver WOOD Chep UK 258 pts
3 Jacob SCOTT Chep UK 250 pts
4 Chris LAWLESS Maxgear Racing 220 pts
5 Adam LEWIS Cunga Bikes 215 pts
6 Jack HOYLE Rapha Condor Sharp 207 pts
7 Matt CROSS Howies 186 pts
8 Jake KELLY Rouleur 172 pts
9 Owen JAMES Howies 171 pts
10 Tristan ROBBINS Team UK Youth 160 pts
Future Stars Girls Series Results
1 Emily KAY Cunga Bikes 342 pts
2 Ellie COSTER Howies 249 pts
3 Melissa LOWTHER Chep UK 245 pts
4 Rebecca HUNT Howies 243 pts
5 Megan BOYD Maxgear Racing 198 pts
6 Emily NELSON Cunga Bikes 189 pts
7 Megan BARKER Rouleur 172 pts
8 Lauren O’BRIEN Chep UK 168 pts
9 Charlotte BROUGHTON Sky Procycling 157 pts
10 Abby-May PARKINSON Chep UK 144 pts
For a full list of results Click Here.