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.
L to R: Andy’s Dad, Andy Corkill & Ben Swift
Tom Murray chats to Andy Corkill
The 2012 Tour of Britain is set to be the best and most supported one ever, thanks to a hugely successful Olympic Games and a certain achievement of Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky in the Tour de France you may have to fight for your spot on the roadside to watch it!
One of those you can guarantee will be on the road side this year is Andy Corkill. Andy along with his dad has followed the Tour of Britain in its trip around the country each year since it took to our roads again in 2004. That’s not just a stage here and there but each stage each year.
In fact Andy is in danger of achieving fame at this rate. He isn’t hard to pick out along the route thanks to his ever present hat, which travel along during to the race too. In fact he is recognisable too much of the organisation, teams and even riders now, I spotted Andy myself while riding in the 2012 Tour Series crit easy enough. Who better to ask then for the fans opinion on the 2012 edition, than perhaps the most recognisable fan out there than Andy himself?
Andy, the 2012 Tour of Britain is upon us, are you ready for another hectic 10 days? And is your dad; someone you say on your own blog isn’t much of a cycling fan on board for another lap of the country?
I’m not sure, I am never ready for the start of the race, I have good intentions when the route is announced and have a grand scheme to plan where we are going to be on the side of the road, but it always arrives quicker than expected. I always end up the night before a stage planning my route.
You are right; my Dad isn’t a cycling fan. He never follows what’s happening throughout the year, but he always attends events with me. He still says he doesn’t understand the racing and it goes too fast for him to pick out anybody. He loves the atmosphere at races and being with his son!
I always say it, but I must thank my wife who puts up with me disappearing to races all year and leaving her at home with the kids. Thanks Jo.
What do you most enjoy about following the race around?
I just love being there; I like the racing and the way it all works. Guess I’m nosy and being there every day allows you to see glimpses of what happens behind the scenes. It is so far removed from my day to day work sitting in front of a computer.
It may sound strange but driving is another part of it. I love driving and would drive all day every day. So if any team out there needs a driver get in touch!
The hotels, same as the riders or tucked away in a corner?
We always stay as near to the start as we can so there isn’t much driving first thing in a morning. We have never stayed in the same hotel as the riders, I’m sure the last thing they need at dinner or breakfast is fans leering at them.
I decided a long time ago that riders, NEG, police and the organisers had their own jobs to do and I’m not going to interrupt them. If people want to talk to us that’s fine, but I don’t ever want to be in the way.
You and your dad have become part of the race in a way now, back in 2004 when you when all this started did you see it going this far?
When we first went in 2004 I had no intention of attending every stage again, it just grew into a life of its own.
It has been fantastic to see the event grow into the world class race it is now. It has established itself as a great race and is run at a perfect time to sharpen up for the world championships.
The number of spectators have grown year on year and this year, after the successes Britain has had, will be amazing. I’m worried that I may not get a good viewing spot at the finishes this year, there are going to be huge crowds.
The hat’s, we had to ask why and when did that happen?
We started wearing the hats in 2007 so my older children could see us on the TV. I must admit, we used to be a bit embarrassed about it. We used to carry them until we got to the finish line, now they are the first thing on when we get out of the car. It has been fun wearing them; we get recognised every day and have been asked for photo’s and once an autograph.
…and this year, a new design or the old faithful?
Old faithful. We have discussed a different one for next year for the tenth running of the race, but no decision yet.
So the 2012 edition…
Who are you most looking forward to catching a word/photo with on the race this year?
Rider wise, it’s got to be Bradley. But my youngest children’s favourite riders will not be riding the event, Tom Murray and Malcolm Elliott, they have never seen Malcolm racing as they are only 4 & 6, but fans of both men.
Other than that my son will think I’m the coolest if I get a picture with Kristian House.
Give us a prediction?… British winner this year maybe?
As Cav has already had a stage race victory this year, maybe this could be one for him. I think Brad would ride for him to win the Gold Jersey.
Where will the race be won, do you see a crucial stage in there?
I think the final selection will be made in Wales and Devon. I know lumpy roads don’t suit Cav but he could find the legs especially with the support of Sky.
Who is going to bring the IG Markets gold Jersey home and win overall on in Guildford?
Heart says Sky, head says Ivan Basso.
I have never been any good at picking winners except the year of 2009 with 3 predications right. That was Boasson Hagen’s year.
Keep up to date with Andy throughout this year’s Tour of Britain and beyond at www.corkadillo.co.uk
Thanks to Andy for his thoughts on the 2012 Tour of Britain, keep an eye on cycling shorts for more on the race.
Pro Cyclist for Team IG-Sigmasport
We’d like to introduce you to the Cyclodam Cycling Club, based in the beautiful city of Amsterdam and run by the lovely Hayley Davies and Monica Haydock.
Cyclodam provide all you need from a cycling club; catering for beginners to the uber experienced rider, all ages, men, women, boys and girls. They will show you how to use a bike for exercise, for sport and for getting you home safely from work. It’s a great social way to make new like-minded friends from all walks of life.
They break their club into three logical areas that make it extremely friendly and accessible, no need to feel out of your depth.
They also run a number of social events including weekly weekend rides, and workshops on all things cycle related like nutrition and bike maintenance and fun trips to visit some of the worlds top cycling races, this year they are going to the final stage of the Tour de France, so if you’re in Paris for the finish keep an eye out for the Cyclodam guys and girls!
The three levels are:
Love Cycling: Beginner or out-of-practice cyclist, you either don’t know how to ride a bike, or believe you’ve forgotten how (you’ve heard the cliché!). Join them to re-explore the art of riding a bike from the Dutch Highway Code, basic maintenance and how to balance your shopping while cycling!
Intro to Cycling as Exercise: Whether you’ve grown up watching the Tour de France and see yourself as the next pro or just realize the benefits of cycling, Cyclodam will help you get to grips with using 2 wheels as more than a form of transportation.
Cycling & Triathlon Club (CTC): For the enthusiastic cyclist, Cyclodam’s road and triathlon group, ride, train and compete together regularly. Why not join them out on the road? All levels of expertise welcome. It’s a mix of girls, boys, nationalities, ages and experiences. Training as often as work and personal commitments allow they meet regularly to better their swim, run and cycling skills. You can also find many of them at national and international competitions. New to road cycling or triathlons? Don’t worry – they welcome and encourage all new members, beginner or expert!
What Cyclodam say:
What can you expect from Cyclodam CTC?
As a member of Cyclodam CTC, expect to push your personal goals and achievements further. We work hard to make sure all individual training goals are met as a club. At the beginning of the swim, run or cycle session, we identify what each athlete aims to achieve and work together as a team to meet these.
Aside from training, you can also expect a range of benefits as a member from our main sponsor Giant, and the opportunity to wear team kit (we’ll be taking orders twice yearly). And of course, having fun at our superb socials!
How can you become a member?
Becoming a member is easy. We charge 25 Euros per year for each member. This is to cover our costs and to make sure we can keep the club running and provide you with the best offers from local companies. If you wish to join, please send an email to [email protected].
The AN Post Rás. It was probably the highlight of my 2011 season, so I had high expectations coming into the 2012 edition of the race. Last year I rode for the Irish national team but this year I was taking to the start line in the often-described-as ‘feckin brilliant’ black and white jersey of Rapha Condor Sharp.
I flew over to Dublin by myself to meet the rest of the team who were driving from Manchester. As soon as I arrived one of the lads noticed how much I was smiling. It isn’t just the tough unpredictable racing that makes the Ras such an enjoyable week, the atmosphere amongst all the teams and staff is something I’ve only experienced at this race. The Irish always know how to have a good time and it’s definitely the attitude of people that plays a large part in a good atmosphere that always keeps teams eager to return.
Looking back at the past winners of the race, it’s not a surprise that the team are well known in this part of the world. However, this year Rapha Condor Sharp has taken a completely different approach – focusing on the development of younger riders. The Ras squad was no exception with our eldest rider being 23, which I’m sure would give us the youngest average age of any team competing. The lineup consisted of; Rich Lang our Aussie climber/sprinter/everything’er, Chris Jennings our South African climbing specialist, big Ben Grenda our strong man from Tasmania, Rich Handley the British rider who can also do much pretty anything and finally me, Felix ‘the local’ from Ireland (and Brighton).
The first few days of the race consisted of 140km+ stages with tough rolling roads. We all rode aggressively trying to get at least one black jersey in every break. However, it quickly became apparent that the Ras was going to live up to its potential of being unlike any other race in the calendar. Break after break would try to escape but each attempt was swallowed up. The roads in Ireland are always rolling and usually have a rough broken surface, which made the averaged speeds of over 48km/h every day in the first hour pretty unbelievable.
Every stage of the Ras from beginning to end is like the first 10km of every other normal race – relentless attacks with everyone wanting to get in on the action. Straight away it was apparent that this year’s race was to be tougher than the 2011 edition. There was a lot more strength in the international teams, which meant you had a lot more riders strong enough to attack and consequently a lot more riders strong enough to close the gaps.
Rich Handley fought his way into the successful breakaway of stage two and finished with a 28 second advantage over the rest of the U23 peloton. It doesn’t seem like much, especially at such an early stage of the race, but this smart move from Rich proved to be decisive. With no time bonuses available, the only way for the race favourites to take time out of Rich was to either get away in a break (difficult now with teams wanting to desperately defend their slender advantage) or they’d have to ride away from him on the tougher climbs. Luckily for us, no one in the race was capable of doing that.
As the week progressed we became more and more organised. John kept us on our toes with tactical advice each night and our jobs were simple. Myself and Grenda were to follow all the early moves, disrupt the breakaways and, if needs be, close gaps to any splits or breaks that contained dangerous riders. Langy and Chris had to keep Rich up at the front of the race and then take over the job from myself and Ben in the last few km’s. Rich’s job of having to always be at the front was probably the most stressful – having your team mates work solely for you adds a lot of extra pressure but it was clear that was our best chance of securing the white jersey, so it we were all fully committed to him.
This organisation made things easier for us mentally as well. It’s a great feeling when you know you can ride at 100% to close a gap for your team leader, safe in the knowledge that one of your teammates will be there to immediately back you up and cover the next attack. Morale within the team was high all week, which definitely makes a big impact on the way you race together. Being able to have a laugh in the evenings and forget about the race for a few hours has a very positive effect.
Rich rode well over the very steep climbs of stages five and six and held onto the U23white jersey. One climb in particular was like nothing I’ve ever seen before – Mamore Gap on stage five. It was towards the end of a 160km day, and it must be over 30% in places. A few of us took the decision to ride 28t cassettes but I still struggled to make it over the top. It was 2-3km long and easily the hardest climb I’ve ridden. I had to ride hard in the first 2-3 hours of the stage to contain breakaways and generally try and make Rich’s life as easy as possible. Finishing the job riding over the line in Skerries was one of the best feelings I’ve had on a bike. Thanks to all my team mates, Rich, Ben, Langy and Chris for a great week. Also thanks to John, Ian, Rob and Iona for keeping us in line and for keeping it fun.
[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.
Tom Murray - Image © Anna Magrath Cycling Shorts.
This winter I set off to the Gent, Six days full of enthusiasm and excitement, its somewhere I have great memories off, somewhere I have passed down many a story about to my friends, family and anyone else who would listen. But there is a problem, a worry stuck in my head I think the world needs to know, but first I better tell you why I qualify to worry about the six days.
The Kuipke track has always been close to my heart, in truth it’s the whole reason I got to ride a bike for a living. As a young kid my parents took me across to Gent to watch the six day with Ben Swift I remember us both sitting there staring in amazement as the six day rolled on and on into the early hours of the night and the party in the middle of the track got more and more wild and out of hand. I made a decision there and then that I wanted to ride the six days, I wanted a piece of that atmosphere to be part of the whole circus, it felt a lot more than just a bike race is was entertaining and a real show.
The thought of riding at Kuipke in the six days didn’t leave me and a few years later I moved to Gent to live with a Belgian family in the heart of cycling land. Riding for the Kingsnorth International team I spent three years riding on the kermis circuit out in Belgium, a great experience. One that taught me how to be a racing cyclist in truth and in 2007 I was finally lucky enough to get an invitation to ride the Noel Fore Memorial event on the Kuipke track. It had taken some getting there but I had made it onto the track in Gent. Even better was that after a good performance riding with Peter Williams against mostly national squads we received an invitation to the UIV amateur six days of Gent. It was the best news ever; I was to be involved in some small way in the six days! I remember the six nights well, it was hard, a real learning experience, some nights went well others went awful but it didn’t really matter I was part of the six day show, full of adrenaline and excitement.
After that first amateur six day, over the next three years I was lucky enough to ride twice more in Gent and once in Amsterdam, Dortmund and in between took in International events in Alkmaar, Munich and on the new Eddy Merckx track in Gent. Every event was a new experience, a new place, different people a proper adventure, you didn’t always know how you would get from place to place. Once along with Tom Smith I was stuffed in the back of Iljo Keisse’s car along with his huge number six flower after been left stranded in Amsterdam! But that was all part of been immersed in the six day circuit. Although I never got to step up to the professional six day circuit I am happy that for a small while I was part of it, even if that part was pretty small.
So what’s my problem? Well, the atmosphere at Gent this year was pretty subdued, the showmen or orchestrator of the sixes seemed to have disappeared (granted Keisse who is probably the current star of the sixes wasn’t able to take part) and the crowd seemed more interested in the bar than the track. My theory on the reason for this is the changing face of track racing, something that was once fairly individual that didn’t rely on you been in a big backed trade team or part of a national set up now seems to be exactly that. Add to this the exclusion of the Madison from the Olympic Games and it seems like while track racing is becoming universally more popular and important the six days is not been pulled along with it.
In my last year of riding the amateur six days it became more difficult to gain an entry as a result of not been the ‘national’ selection of your country, it had changed from riders who had done it off their own backs, who wanted to be there and be part of it, people who travelled in the back of transit vans from event to event all to be part of the six day circus to deadly serious national selections who the majority of the time while respecting the events were gearing up for bigger and better things on an international stage. This year when I went back and saw the UIV amateur six it was exclusively national selection teams, that’s not that there’s a problem with those riders I’m sure they want to be there and enjoy the experience but in reality there going to move on from the six day circuit to focus on World Championships, Olympic Disciplines or a road career, leaving little for the professional six day circuit to pick from when they look for new riders.
I think that’s the problem, while as the sport gains in popularity the professional six day’s may have to come in line with new format’s that interest a wider audience but the amateur six days should always allow entries from those who have their own dreams and ambitions and follow them. These people are where your characters come from after all. The current six day star Iljo Keisse grew up riding on Kuipke, his dad owns a bar just round the corner from it, he’s a true six day rider who grew up watching the six days and wanted to be part of that, take away the possibility of that happening and in effect your killing the six days slowly. True there are still some rides left, Franco Marvulli and Danny Stam spring to mind, but what happens when they have hung up the wheels, where are the next true six day riders coming from?
Sport’s grow, evolve and change, the UCI in their wisdom have proved this by booting the Madison and individual pursuits out but some things should stay the same for their own good.